Security Blanket

Security Blanket


I left my writer’s notebook at work on Wednesday night. And I won’t be back at work again until Tuesday (though I didn’t know that on Wednesday–ended up needing a sick day yesterday; I work from home on Fridays and most Mondays). So my notebook and I are going to be separated for almost a week.

My writer’s notebook is the one thing I am slightly OCD about. When I leave the house, I always carry it in my purse (and make sure I always buy purses large enough for my notebook). When I am at home, it is always sitting on the library table in the living room. It is always within easy reach; I always know where it is.

Do you notice how many times I used the word “always” in the previous sentences? That’s no accident. My notebook is the one always thing about me. When I am away from home, I typically reach into my bag several times throughout the day to touch it and make sure it’s there. I have a terror of leaving my notebook somewhere and losing it.

Of course panic set in as soon as I realized the notebook wasn’t in my purse or on the library table. I checked my other bags. I shuffled through every stack in the house. Then I remembered being rushed leaving work on Wednesday. I had already discovered that I left my wallet, of all things, in my office. So why not my writer’s notebook too? Mentally retracing my steps led me to the exact stack of books in my office that I think the notebook is sitting at the bottom of. But I won’t know for sure until Tuesday.

If you’re wondering why I don’t just pop over to the office to grab the notebook, it’s because my office is 64 miles from my house. But if I didn’t have to drive 60 miles in the opposite direction for an appointment this afternoon, I probably would have just gone in to the office today to retrieve my notebook.

As soon as I realized it was missing, I had an overwhelming and immediate desire to write. Never mind that I haven’t done any writing since Sunday. As soon as I felt like I couldn’t write, I needed desperately to write. Never mind that my big plan for the afternoon had been to read. (Which I also did–a couple of stories in Charles Yu’s fascinating collection, Sorry Please Thank You; the first few chapters of Jerry Spinelli’s Hokey Pokey; the first two chapters in Meenoo Rami’s Thrive; the first few chapters in Diane Ravitch’s Reign of Error). The moment I had no notebook, I had some deep and profound thoughts I needed to explore on the page. I thought of all the opportunities for writing I will have over the next five days. I had even been planning a visit to one of my favorite coffee shops today. Just to write.

If you’re wondering why I didn’t just start a new notebook, well, I’m a little OCD about these things. I have a lot of self-imposed rules about notebook work. I’m only halfway through the current notebook. I would NEVER start a new notebook before the current notebook is finished! And I can only write in two kinds of notebooks: my Cachet Sketchbooks (above) and, when I travel for conferences, unlined Moleskines for note-taking only. And notebook writing has to happen IN A NOTEBOOK. I can’t just grab random pieces of paper and start writing. I don’t know why that’s against the rules, but I know that it is.

So. A seemingly insurmountable dilemma.

But then there were all those deep and profound thoughts that needed immediate exploration.

So I had to figure out a way to solve the problem.

Since I am “allowed” to write in Moleskines, I decided to look at one and see if a solution occurred to me. I found my most recent unfinished Moleskine–full of my notes from NCTE 2013. (So many notes that there were only 9 blank pages left in the book.) The pages are small enough to fit inside my Cachet sketchbook. I only write on one side of Moleskine paper anyway (because the one and only pen I can use to write in my notebooks bleeds through the thin Moleskine paper), so I decided that I could write in the Moleskine this weekend and then neatly cut out the pages (never tearing! It is also against the rules to tear pages out of my notebooks!) and paste them (never taping! It is also against the rules to tape things into my notebooks!) into my writer’s notebook on Tuesday.

Relieved, I grabbed the only pen I can use to write in my notebook and settled down to do some writing. Over the course of the day, I wrote 8 pages, more than I’ve written in the last three weeks.

Maybe I need to forget my notebook more often?

7 responses to “Security Blanket”

  1. “As soon as I felt like I couldn’t write, I needed desperately to write.”

    I’ve expereinced this too. Prolonged time without writing, or time away from one’s normal writing routine leads to an increased desire to write.

    Also, I’ve found that, at times during the first draft of a novel, if the inspiration to actually sit down and write isn’t there, chewing things over for a few days in my head — and putting off actually writing — can lead to an explosion of writing once the tension to write has built up too much. 🙂

    • I will be reunited with my notebook this afternoon, and it will be interesting to see if the drive to write continues. I have written a couple dozen pages over the weekend! Perhaps as motivation for finishing the novel I’ve been periodically working on for several years, I should forbid myself from working on it. Perhaps writing functions much as banned books do (tell a kid a book has been banned and they’re usually dying to read it)!

  2. Not to worry, I am flat-out obsessive with my writing notebook as well. I always write in a black lined Moleskine with a blue ball-point pen. I have quite a collection of filled notebooks, which I have preserved by sealing them in vaccuum bags. They are just simple notebooks to everyone else, but to me, they are my prized posessions.

    • So glad to know that I am not alone. If I can’t find the one pen I write with in my notebooks in the right color, I can’t write. My family thinks this is very strange and probably kind of stupid.

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