By Enid Parker
Being a wordsmith, and a bibliophile, I guess it’s not surprising to anyone that I own a lot of notebooks. But my myriad, ever-growing collection has a teeny-tiny problem. A lot of my notebooks remain empty, even after years.
My husband came across some of these recently – and as he leafed through them with an exaggerated raising of eyebrows, suddenly experiencing the need to explain my empty notebooks to him and the universe, I exclaimed, “I just like the look and feel of them! But I will write in them soon!”
I’ve been attracted to all kinds of stationery, whether it’s pencils, pens sharpeners, erasers, pencil-boxes, ever since I was a kid, but notebooks have always occupied a special place in my heart. The more colourful and visually appealing the cover, the more likely I am to pick it up. Though sometimes, minimalism can be appealing too – some notebooks have an air of professionalism that gels with the general work mood. But if I’m experiencing a bohemian vibe and happen to be in India, I’ve realised that handicraft exhibitions are great places to pick up ethnic style books, with pretty fabric, jute or leather covers.
I have notebooks of every conceivable size from all over the world, some gifts, some self-bought; all are equally precious to me. A handful have been filled up completely, like a tiny pink one with an animated girl on the cover that seems to have been specially made for the little poems I put in it.
Other books – most half full – have recipes, Christmas gift lists, grocery lists, ideas for novels, short stories, notes from my travels, notes for articles, questions for interviews, guitar chords, sketches and random scribblings and doodles.
Sometimes I think my unwillingness to begin using some of my notebooks is directly proportional to their cost and level of attractiveness. Writing (or sketching) in such materials can be daunting, you want to come up with the best possible words (or the best drawings) in the best possible way. “You’re obsessed with neatness,” a friend once commented.
Maybe I am. Or maybe, as writer Jessica Guzik put it in her article, An Illustrated Guide To Using The S**t Out Of Your Notebook, on medium.com, there’s a tendency to put notebooks on a pedestal. Perhaps, gradually, I will bring the best of mine down to earth – and use them in a creatively fulfilling way. Just not yet.
The Japanese word Tsundoku (which refers to the practice of acquiring reading materials but letting them pile up in one’s home without reading them) floats into my head and settles there. Maybe a word will someday be coined for my notebook obsession too? Meanwhile, I’m just a notebook shopaholic.
Enid frequents secondhand bookshops, loves chai and wishes she could revisit the Eighties