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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

“Sometimes, when it's going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really just a fetish for stationery. The true writer, the born writer, will scribble words on scraps of litter, the back of a bus ticket, on the wall of a cell.” --David Nicholls, One Day, 2010

Okay, I’ll admit it. I have a fetish for stationery. I love colored parchment, pretty flowery designs, new fountain pens, and most especially, fancy journals. Since I was very young, I’ve always felt that if I could find just the right notebook, the prettiest paper, the smoothest pen, I would be able to stay neat and organized with my homework, or when I was older, that I would be able to write the Great American Novel.

The truth is, the fancy journals get in the way of writing a novel. They get in the way of writing to discover what I have to say on any given subject. They get in the way of most everything type of writing except for the imaginary kind I do in my head with poetic turns of phrase and flourishes of my pen. I have a whole shelf of various kinds of fancy notebooks and journals, and every one of them empty.

This is why I particularly like Natalie Goldberg’s advice:

“Sometimes people buy expensive hardcover journals. They are bulky and heavy, and because they are fancy, you are compelled to write something good. Instead you should feel that you have permission to write the worst junk in the world and it would be okay. Give yourself a lot of space in which to explore writing. A cheap spiral notebook lets you feel that you can fill it quickly and afford another.”—Natalie Goldberg

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