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Time_Notebook_Screenshot_2.480x480-75Oh, the notebook – the vital, lovely, indispensable notebook!

It’s taken me ages to learn to always, but always have one at hand. Ages and endless frustration (and a certain amount of tears) over lost ideas, scraps of descriptions, book references and all sorts of things – things that never became notes, because I didn’t have the means to jot them down at the moment.

In time, I grew marginally wiser, and provided myself with a notebook. One Notebook, with its own little pen, and the general idea was I would always take it with me, and happily jot down all the notes I needed forever and ever.

Except, you could describe me as a trifle forgetful, and the One Notebook developed this unpleasant habit of being downstairs when I was tucked in bed, or on my night-table when I was from home, or of proving too big for tiny evening clutches… Meanwhile, though, I had resigned myself to the fact that an unjotted idea is a doomed idea, and also discovered that arguing with myself in writing works rather well at unraveling plot tangles…

So I began to methodically note down everything even remotely writing-related that occurred to me – but, due to the uncooperative nature of the One Notebook, it wasn’t always in the right place. I took my notes on anything at hand – hoping they wouldn’t get lost. In this I must have been moderately successful, judging by the quantity of loose pages, paper scraps, theatre or train tickets, torn envelopes, cardboard squares, leaflets and whatnots that keep cropping up here and there, covered in notes for things I published, staged or sold years ago… Once there even was a paper napkin with a snatch of dialogue scribbled in what could only be blue eye-pencil – and I don’t use blue eye-pencil…

And then… well, then it struck me – and when it did, it was so simple I could have kicked myself for not thinking of it before: one doesn’t need One Notebook, but Several Notebooks. So now I have several:

1. A classic Moleskine, with hard cover and plain paper pages. This is the official one where, on good days, all stray notes get transcribed. Sometimes it goes around with me, sometimes it does not – but it doesnt matter, because there are…

2. A smaller notebook, residing on my night-table. Because no matter how sure I am I will remember in the morning, experience has taught me I won’t. But I know better now, and it has grown perfectly normal to sit up in the middle of the night, grab pen and paper, and write down whatever it is.

3. A smaller notebook for handbags. Actually there are several of these, in several of my many handbags. I have grown better at this too, and can usually be trusted to move the notebook first thing when changing bags – but one can never tell, so…

4. A really small one for tiny evening clutches, pockets and snatchels – because it’s easy to think that oh, bother, nothing life-changing is going to occur to me right as I dance/dine/ski/walk/watch a play, right? And if you ever wrote anything, you know how this always ends…

English: Moleskine notebook and diaries. Белар...What else? Oh yes: when I travel, I usually take two of them with me.  And of course, each notebook is constantly paired with at least two pens or pencils, because there is nothing worse than having idea and paper – only for the one pen to die on you. Have you ever tried to scratch something on a piece of paper with the point of a dead ballpoint pen, stylus-wise, like an ancient scribe? I have – and, besides being no picnic, it earns one peculiar stares.

And that’s it, I think… Does this mean I no longer lose a single brainwave? Alas, no and it is rather fussy – but it helps a great deal.

Anything worth remembering is worth writing down, says McNair Wilson – and I find he is quite right – which means notebooks, and notebooks, and more notebooks.

 

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