When John Gallaher was here, I noticed that he was writing sentences (or line or observations, who knows?) in a notebook throughout the class. At the end of class, I asked him “Why do you use a small notebook?” He passionately responded that he liked being able to carry it around in his pocket, so that he could write something down as soon as it came into his mind. He talked about the mead notebooks, and how the plastic cover protects it if, for example, he threw the notebook onto a table at a bar. He was so enthusiastic about this notebook, even noting the changes the Mead notebooks have gone through the years (they replaced the plastic back cover with a cardboard one, and they shrunk the size of the spiral , which made it more difficult to slide pens into loops). It was easy to tell that he was obsessed with these notebooks.
As a writers in the modern age, we really only need three things: a computer, a notebook, and a pencil. Laptops and pencils, though, are not very customizable. Notebooks are, and that might be why they’re so special to us. Notebooks are very customizable, because they range from small to large, from plain to intricate.
Personally, I am obsessed with notebooks and have more than I probably should. Typically, I have three notebooks in my backpack. One is a new notebook I bought Saturday with the intent of making into a place where I can focus on writing and revising poetry. It’s one of those notebooks that looked too beautiful to write in with a fancy cover and gold edged pages. Currently, I’m four or five pages into it, where I was writing out different stanzas and lines for a poem I’m having difficulty with. The second one is a small, pocket-sized moleskin notebook, which I bought to use for drawing diagrams for my Chemistry class, to use in a John Gallaher sort of way where I write short sentences and observations that I don’t want to lose. The third is my trusty composition notebook that I use as a dumping ground for everything from working on bits of novel ideas to writing down mineral formulas. In my mind, these notebooks do very different, if similar, things. They work as ways to compartmentalize different strains of thoughts for my writing, and function as significant parts of my writing process.
What do you guys do for notebooks? Do you use your laptop more than your notebook? Do you assign different notebooks to different tasks? Also, how you arrange notebooks, do you write all over the place or do you only write on the lines?