Two New Notebook Reviews at Black Cover: The Picadilly Notebook and the Agawami +1

Black Cover has just reviewed a very promising Moleskine-alternative, the Picadilly Notebook. It only costs $5, which, given recent economic events, will surely be appealing to all the addicts out there who were planning to cash out their 401ks to buy notebooks. Black Cover has even given readers a code for a 15% discount!

Less of a bargain but also very attractive is the Agawami +1 notebook reviewed last week.

What Kind of Notebook Is Best for Creative Writing?

Cat Rambo’s thoughts On Writing Process, a guest post at Jeff Vandermeer’s Ecstatic Days.

I write in large sketch pads, because I like the space to draw arrows and circles and make marginal notes. I used to write in Moleskin [sic] notebooks, but nowadays they just don’t seem large enough for novel-sized thinking. I save them for lecture notes, or lists, or personal journaling.

I’ve never tried to write a novel myself, but I have done some creative writing workshops, and I agree with Cat Rambo’s comment– larger size paper works better, in my case lined paper. This is totally in contrast to my adoration of pocket-sized notebooks with unlined paper. I use the small notebooks to make notes about things I might want to write, but the actual writing happens in a different format.

To Keep or Not To Keep: Notebooks and Posterity?

These two posts caught my eye today:

This morning I’ve been thinking about how last May my literary archives went to Texas. All my papers (letters to and from me, journals, notebooks, drafts and fragment of work both published and unpublished, contracts, bank statements, phone bills, you name it) had lived with me for over 30 years, and it was sad to see them all go, though Betsy was excited to have the boxes out of the basement.
It’s been strange since all that left not to be able to go into our basement and sort through some paper part of my life long-past. Now it’s as if a part of me is gone to live in Texas, and I’d have to go there to visit it. (From Kudzu Telegraph, via Sparkle City Blogs)

I often wonder why the lives of great writers seem to be filled with depression, tragedy, and insecurity. And why so many feel the need to destroy their notebooks, correspondence, and personal journals (or in Maud’s case, burn some and edit the rest)? (From The Lazy Reader)

The two quotes seem to represent opposing sides of how notebook-keepers might choose to dispose of their writings at a certain point in life: keep and archive them for others to read? Or go as far as destroying them to make sure no one else reads them?

I think about this with my own notebooks. If I were hit by a bus tomorrow, people in my life would no doubt go through my belongings to dispose of them, and someone would say, “Wow, here’s boxes and boxes full of those notebooks she was always using.” Then they’d probably start looking through them. Some of the stuff I’ve written in journals could be embarrassing, or hurtful to people who might read them. Yet there are a few things I’m proud of.

I’m not likely to ever occupy the status of a major author whose works might be studied, or have biographies written of me. Perhaps I should make a will and stipulate that all my notebooks be destroyed. But that seems rather sad. What would you like to have happen with your notebooks after your death? Have you left any specific instructions for them?

We All Have a Problem

Theme for today’s links: that impulse to buy new notebooks while having an inability to fill them:

I have a nasty habit of saving notebooks I like until I have the perfect thing to write in them, and then I never end up writing in them

Rule #7: No new notebooks or writing paper. Use up all the unfinished ones first and/or salvage pages from them.

I frequently buy journals and notebooks and other writing accoutrements…I just don’t use them.

Unfinished Notebooks

Via CoolHunting, here’s a line of limited-edition notebooks that will appeal to collectors of unique art and design. They’re called Unfinished Notebooks, made by Studio Matador.

They look great, but I’d have a hard time actually writing in one of these, I think– when a notebook seems too special, it can be paralyzing! Who wants to write some mundane to-do list or journal entry in such a beautiful object? And at $30 they’re a bit pricey for that sort of thing…

Notebooks From the Past: Recipes for Genever

Here’s a nice image, from a New York Times article yesterday about the history of gin:

It’s a recipe book from the 1820s, with some kind of formula, I guess, for making genever, a Dutch ancestor of the gin we drink today. I love all that small elegant handwriting and the way they’ve crammed so many numbers and notes onto the page!

Red Moleskine Notebooks

I noticed that Barnes & Noble sells some red Moleskines (pocket size, ruled paper) with their store brand on the wrapper. I figured this was some exclusive deal they’d made but apparently not: a UK website is offering large and small, ruled and plain Moleskines with a red cover. Moleskine’s own online catalog makes no mention of these.

My Current Notebook Usage Dilemma

I go through a variety of notebook-using habits. Lately, I tend to have about 3 going at once. I have a soft-cover Moleskine with graph paper pages that I’m using for daily jottings: to-do’s, French vocabulary, notes on books or movies to read, etc. A lot of these kinds of notes are things that I was putting into my Treo for a long time, and I still enter a lot of them there. I also tended to jot small lists of immediate to-do’s for a day, like “clean bathroom” and “pick up drycleaning” on index cards as well, but I’ve found that I enjoy using the Moleskine for these instead.

I also carry a hardcover Moleskine sketchbook, which I use as a journal. In the past, I’ve used these sketchbooks to capture some daily jottings, and occasional drawings or watercolors, but lately, it’s just been used for longer journal entries, maybe once or twice a week at most.

Then I have a small sketchbook that I use for drawings and watercolors, a HandBook pocket journal. The paper is a bit rougher than the Moleskines, but of a good weight for markers, pencil, and watercolor use. I don’t carry it with me and mainly use it on the weekends. When going on a trip, I sometimes start a separate one, such as the one I did for a recent 2-week safari. I started a new one for my trip to Paris, though I wasn’t able to fill it in the time I was there, so it will end up being used for other travels.

The two Moleskines are close to being finished. I have a blank page softcover Moleskine ready to go, as well as a couple of spare Moleskine sketchbooks. I’m tempted to go back to just keeping one notebook that would capture everything: notes, journal entries and drawings. But can a notebook addict like me limit herself to using just one? I love the nice flexy feeling of the softcover, but the paper in those doesn’t hold up for artwork. The HandBook sketchbook is chunky and great to draw in, but I don’t think I’d want to write journal entries and lists in it, as the paper isn’t as nice for a regular rollerball pen. The Moleskine sketchbook does the best job of meeting all needs, and that’s why I’ve gone through so many of them over the years, but I’d miss using the other notebooks too.

How many notebooks do you use on a regular basis, and what kind?

Notebooks Can Be Your Downfall

I got a kick out of this post from Gothamist, about an elderly lawyer who kept a notebook labeled “Tax Journal,” in which he dutifully recorded expenses that he later deducted. Good idea, in theory, but not when those supposedly tax-deductible expenses are, for 2002 alone, “$111,364 for ‘therapeutic sex’ and massages ‘to relieve osteoarthritis and enhance erectile function through frequent orgasm.'” The IRS declined to accept his visits to prostitutes, etc., as legitimate deductions, since they were illegal, AND he hadn’t saved the receipts.

The story reminded me of the mobster in the movie Casino who meticulously documented all his business expenses whenever he was sent across the country to help whack somebody, much to the enjoyment of the FBI!