Monday, January 3, 2011

A New Year and a Blank Page

I have a not-so-secret habit; I collect blank journals. Well, I don't actually collect them, like I don't seek them out and try to acquire sets or certain ones; I just like them and buy them without necessarily any thought of how or if I'm going to fill them. Starting when I was a kid and up until my mid-twenties, I kept a journal and I was often on the lookout for just the right book to use; it had to have a sewn binding that would lay flat and it had to be pretty. It didn't necessarily have to fit in my purse but that was a plus.

I started out with silk-covered ruled journals I bought at a store stocking Chinese imports, then in middle school I had an ugly book with a picture of wood ducks on the cover. The cover was a sickly yellow colored waterproof plastic with a cheap paper illustration glued on. I wrote prolifically just to finish that book!  Sometimes I'd even write about how much I hated it. My favorite journal was a large book, probably 7x12 inches or so, with unlined ivory pages and covered in a beautiful, silky red floral fabric. That journal lasted throughout college and was an absolute pleasure to write in. The large size and the unruled paper meant I could really unfurl my thoughts across its pages without the limitations of a cramped size or straight lines.  I've never found anything like it.

I stopped keeping a written journal sometime in my mid-twenties but I still like my blank books. And I'll buy them, whether or not I plan to use them. Or, rather, I almost always plan to use them. I have one book I titled "Gardening," and in which I actually kept gardening notes- for about a month, until I realized I actually have no interest in gardening. There are several that I started for writing poetry, or for writing a novel, but I do my novel-writing on my computer and barely use the notebooks even for notes. A success story- I won a beautiful leather-bound blank book in a giveaway from Karen of Scobberlotch, just for the purpose of writing notes and ideas for a novel and I've actually used it just for that.

But most stories don't end so well. I keep a small Moleskine journal in my purse and I use that for shopping notes or ideas when I'm out but that's not even a quarter full and I've had it for over a year. It seems like there are stacks of blank books all over the house. One I use for notes for work- ideas, brainstorming and so forth- but the glue on the binding gave out about half way through and I actually picked up my old Gardening notebook to take its place. But most of them are just... blank. Or I've written in one or two pages. But I keep buying them anyway, because they're beautiful or they appeal to me or I just think, someday I'm going to do something wonderful with this book. Maybe this is the year!

22 comments:

Bibliolatrist said...

glad to hear I'm not the only one with this affliction. thanks for making me feel better!

Laura said...

This sheds new light on your post about the Moleskine Book Journal! But I also had to laugh because just yesterday I was in one of those contemplative moods and thought I might start a journal. I have plenty of blank ones around too, although I tend to get them as work-related "SWAG" so they are emblazoned with a vendor logo and not nearly as pretty. And even though I think I should start a journal, if you ask me in 3 months I will probably have slacked off. Oh well !

ritaliccious said...

I would love to come raid your stash. I usually have 3-4 journals going and I use them regularly. I'm always looking for the next best journal.

(Diane) Bibliophile By the Sea said...

I also have a similar affliction, also for pens, mechanical pencils, markers and post it notes. I do use mine, but buy far more than I use. The Moleskine are just my favorites though.

bermudaonion said...

I love blank books too, but can usually resist the urge to buy them. I do use lots of spiral bound notebooks to keep track of things, though, so I'd probably use some blank books.

dog eared copy said...

Your post reminded me of a blank book I received as a gift from my best friend in college. He had inscribed the end papers with an elaborate bit of artwork and a note. The book was small but elegant with thick parchment-like pages. I filled those pages with journal entries, ideas, doodles... When the book was finished, I had so enjoyed having something like that, that I went and bought another one; but somehow the next book wasn't "magic." It never inspired me to be creative and it ended up being full of to-do lists! Maybe the key to filling a book is tuning into it's magic! Or maybe I need to have my friend send me another book :-)

Trisha said...

I used to have a serious problem with blank journals. I just loved them and would buy them non-stop with this foolish idea that I would do something awesome with them. Of course, it didn't stop with blank journals, I also bought binders and folders and college-ruled notebooks and little note-taking paper. Really it comes down to writing and organizing accessories. I adore them. I finally broke the habit when I realized that I had an entire wardrobe full of what is essentially office supplies.

Zibilee said...

I also tend to buy a lot of blank journals and notebooks. Some of them are quite pretty, but I usually don't utilize them enough. Friends buy them for me, I buy them myself, and I come into possession of a lot of them every year. I have good intentions to use them, but that usually only lasts a couple of pages, and then I am back where I started. I am glad to hear that I am not alone!

Marie said...

Bibliolatrist- :-)

Laura- yes, it does shed light on my Moleskine Book Journal post! Now you know why I couldn't resist picking it up.

Ritaliccious, LOL :-)

Diane, Moleskines are wonderful :-)

Dog eared copy, I love what you say about the "magic." I have to love the book to really use it. I think I loved that red book more than anything I've ever written in.

Trisha, I love office supplies too :-)

Zibilee- definitely not! ;-)

contemplatrix said...

lovely post marie.

i have some beautiful journals, and received two more as gifts for christmas. they tend to be gifts. the husband even inscribed a few. and a few i've even written in. but i have never ever journaled. i have used pages for poetry and notes.. but mainly i have fat little notebooks of little consequence in my bag or scraps stacked from note-taking. there is something about those blank pages... and yet my husband fills his moleskines (of every size) beautiful script and quick but lovely sketches.
i should probably work hard to fill one this year...so i can keep receiving them as gifts as journals are marvelous things to have empty pages or no.

~L

peajayar said...

I seek out blank page journals too. Use them as a kind of commonplace book, with occasional diary-type entries and notes for writing at the back.

Works for me. Fitting in my bag is one criteria - I do a 45 min train trip several times a week, need to have one on hand. Not to mention the book I am reading. Handbags, though, are a whole other topic

AS said...

blank books are great even just to keep a list then at least everything is in one place. I have several small ones for book writing notes too. I just don't look at them enough to then go to my computer and write.

Suzanne said...

I have several blank journals sitting on a shelf in my office. And tons of pens, post-it notes, .... I not only have my own bookstore but my own office supply/stationery store as well.

You are definitely not alone.

bibliophiliac said...

Journal hoarders come out of the closet! I'm addicted to all writerly paraphernalia: notebooks, pens, writing boxes, journals. I do like the Moleskines, and fill about 2-3 a year.

jewwishes said...

How bizarre...I collect them, also. Most are blank, but I love the varied covers, etc.

Lesley said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who does this! I have several blank books in my house, and always have the best of intentions to use them, but never do. That doesn't stop me from wanting more, though.

Space Station Mir said...

I was never addicted to buying journals myself, but as I was never subtle about my intentions to be a writer, for several birthdays in a row I got piles of beautiful blank books. A few of them I've used over the years, but I now have a stack of them I'm contemplating getting rid of, but it makes me sad because they're pretty and I still remember who gave me each one.

Alyce said...

You made me laugh talking about the ugly duck journal and the gardening journal. Love it!

When I was in my 20s I tossed all of my old journals (spiral notebooks) in the trash because they embarrassed me. I swore I wouldn't write a journal again, but then I read my great-aunt's journal after she passed away. It was so special to me that I started keeping a journal for my boys to read someday. The only problem is I haven't written in it for at least two years. Maybe I should buy a new one as inspiration. :)

Darlene said...

It is definitely not safe for me in the journal section of the bookstore. I just love them - all the beautiful covers. Sometimes I can resist but more often than not I come home with a new one and not usually with a reason to use it either. lol.

Kathleen said...

I love journals too. I also used to keep a daily journal but stopped about 5 years ago. I use the journals I buy now at the office, to take notes during meetings. I also use one to jot down reading notes or books I want to try that I might hear about in conversation, in a news article, or whatever. There are definitely worse things you could collect! Ha!

Erin said...

I loooooove blank books! I've never succeeded in using them regularly, though, and usually end up writing a few pages and then leaving the rest blank. Over the past few months I've been writing down book quotes I really like, which is actually working for me! I'm hoping I've found a use for blank books that will justify me buying them, since I've kind of put a ban on myself as of late. Good luck using yours!

Alexia561 said...

Glad to know that I'm not the only one who loves journals! I have a cabinet full of blank books, but can't resist picking up new ones. So hard to resist! :)