Just last week, I treated myself and splurged on a genuine, leather Moleskine journal. I thought I was going to make it until the end of the year before switching to another notebook, but the pages filled fast, and I was forced to make the purchase, or else go without for the remainder of 2009.
I was picking up a few books for school at a local bookstore, when I came upon one of those displays stacked with generic journals for $4.99 & Up. I usually gravitate towards these deals, stocking up where I can, because I know I will eventually go through them, and they are always good to have on-hand. For the last 5 years, these colorful covers and ruled pages have been a staple to my daily, writing activities and seem to work best for my sketches, brainstorming, and free-writing. So why not go cheap and buy in bulk, right?
But on this particular shopping trip, I wasn't satisfied with the usual selection. The pages weren't bound right, the line spacing was too large, the cover was in faux snakeskin, or the size wasn't convenient enough. So, I walked on.
Next to this display, there was a rotating rack, also with journals. Even from afar, I could tell they were of better craftsmanship -- Ah yes, the infamous Moleskine! I knew people who swore by the brand, but I couldn't get past the trend or rationalize the extra ten bucks. If I was going to write, I was going to write on or in, whatever I could get my hands on. I don't discriminate, as long as its a legible surface.
Writer/Poet, (Some people believe we should distinguish between the broad and specific labels. Not all writers are poets, but all poets are writers.. or something like that. Anyway... ) Natalie Goldberg described her own preferences when it came to notebooks, in her craft-book Writing Down the Bones : "Garfield, the Muppets, Mickey Mouse, Star Wars. I use notebooks with funny covers. They come out fresh in September when school starts. They are a quarter more than the plain spirals, but I like them. I can't take myself too seriously when I open up a Peanuts notebook."
And isn't that what it comes down to? When you choose fancy stationary or writing materials, you are investing that your ideas and thoughts are worthy of such. I find myself writing more neatly, even with expensive birthday cards, being extra careful not to blemish the pages with my horrendous handwriting or poorly-formed meditations.
In my hands however, I liked the texture of the Moleskine under my fingertips. I flipped through it and the line spacing was spot-on. And yet it was still about the same size and thickness as my past journals, but with a noticeably better quality. Then on the cover, the fine print simply stated: The Famous Notebook of Van Gogh, Picasso, and Chatwin... I was sold. "Perhaps, the words will come more sweetly," I thought to myself as I broke the bank and left the store.
Today I am happy to report, the journal is working out well, and my writing is very much alive and thriving. There was no adjustment period or directions needed. The transition went mighty smoothly, and the "acid-free pages" and "hand-glued bindings" are growing on me. When I blessed the inside cover with my "author's note to the reader" (which is basically an explanation for its contents), I thought about customary journaling and wondered how long it will endure, particularly in this age of technological gadgets.
To me, there is something still so intimate about writing in a diary. My handwriting is distinct to the rhythm of my thoughts; it is my every inspiration and breath in, and my every secret professed in exhale. The contents of a hard-drive could never reveal of me, what a journal could. And perhaps that is why I have become more selective about the organization and contents, as I've grown as a writer.
I always worry about what I will leave behind. And I definitely don't want the manner in which I leave my writing, to distract from the meaning of my words. "Don't judge me for what I was not in my life, but for the passion I approached my life with." That's what is most important to me. And as long as that comes across, I would be content writing on napkins for the rest of my days...
For the history of Moleskine, go here (Actually, it is pretty interesting): http://www.moleskine.com/moleskine_world/_the_legendary_notebook_moleskine.php