Diehards

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Vanity Sizing

One of the requirements of the writing course I am doing is to keep a journal. I started with an ordinary Moleskine notebook but this soon proved inadequate for my particular purposes. I needed something much bigger because I wanted space to stick pictures and news paper cuttings, as well as write my own literary thoughts. I looked in all the shops but nothing grabbed me. You know how it is when you have a vague notion of the kind of thing you want, you begin all hopeful that it is out there to be got for a few quid, then slowly come to realise that no one with power over the means of production thinks quite like you do? I tried everywhere I could think, then some places I wouldn't have thought of, before giving up all hope and going back to the Moleskine. After all, I told myself, this was the pad of choice for Hemingway and Chatwin so I must be being an awfully fussy cow. But it didn't do and I actually struggled to write anything of any use, it just didn't feel right. I begun to be irritated with the very notion of keeping a journal and rather disgruntled at being made to do so. Then one day I was having one of those 'big cleans.' The kind of clean that involves moving all the furniture around and takes at least a day.

And I found this under the couch.




It was covered in dust, I don't have those kinds of cleans very often, and looked like the kind of thing that Harry Potter would find the answer to a magical conundrum in. I was puzzled for a moment and wondered about fairies and the like until remembering that I had bought it for my husband well over a year before. He had expressed an interest in keeping a diary and I had stumbled upon it in a stationery shop in Edinburgh's elegant George Street and thought it just the thing to inspire him further. I put this inscription in it for him and presented it to him one day.



But fortunately for me my marvellously poignant and generous words hadn't been enough to inspire him to mark the pages, so now I asked him if I could use it. Very generously he said of course I could, and it has done me well for nearly a year. But now it is almost full up.


So needing a new one I asked him if he would go back to that shop (he has an office in Edinburgh) and get me another. But they don't sell them anymore and the hunt began again. And, unsurprisingly, we could find nothing like it anywhere.

This morning, in a panic because I have only two blank pages left, and a pile of news paper cuttings, not to mention a guddle of thoughts a buzz in my mind, I checked the internet. I tend to internet shop only as a last resort for such things because I enjoy the mooching, touching and discovering that goes with shop shopping. I tried eBay, Amazon, and all the stationery shops I could think of, but nothing. Then I thought to merely type 'leather bound journal' into google and pah-dah, I found a site called papernation and they had the exact same one. It should arrive mid-week. Thank goodness! I won't have to bottle up my thoughts for too long, and you know what that's like.

16 comments:

PI said...

Sofas can be fruitful. when I joined MTL I was forever finding money when I delved down his sofas. I'm also familiar with the giving to one's loved one a carefully considered gift and ending up using it oneself:)
I like your tenacity. Well done!

Eryl Shields said...

Thanks Pat.

We once bought an old chair from a junk shop for three pounds - it was quite some time ago - and found six pounds under the cushion!

The World According To Me said...

Amazing what you can find underneath the sofa!
And via the internet!

I hope the book arrives soon. Yep, I know what it's like to bottle up those thoughts...

Carole said...

My thoughts are of the spiral bound $1.29 variety. But I have an entire box of them. I like nice journals and I have a few of them, but they fill up too fast to be purchase them often.

Eryl Shields said...

The world... ~ the internet is great for someone like me who lives in the middle of resource desert, and I wish I could remember to use it for such things more often. Thanks for coming over, btw, I'm looking forward to more of your London posts, I've been in Scotland for 24 years - give or take - and I still miss London terribly.

Carole ~ you're very sensible. I do use lots of spiral bound note books too, for the actual creative stuff, but needed something a bit more luxurious for the recording of my personal progress. I don't know why.

Conan Drumm said...

I have an A5 one made by Papuro, bought in London, but v expensive!

Kim Ayres said...

I think your final instruction on the inscription to "Enjoy your wife Eryl" is the best birthday gift he could have

Eryl Shields said...

Conan ~ I don't know the brand Papuro, I'll have to check it out now.

Kim ~ I'm far too generous at times!

Mary Witzl said...

I know how hard it is to find just the right journal!

I used to take ages to pick the best possible journal, and like Carole, I too have a large box of them. I've kept a journal of some sort since I was nine; before that, my mother kept one for me (weird, isn't it? Most of my life has been documented).

Now I just keep one on the computer. At some point, that box of journals began to oppress me -- especially given our frequent international moves. It will be easier for the kids to just delete what is on the computer than it will be for them to burn an entire box of books...

Eryl Shields said...

I've only occasionally seen fit to record my innermost thoughts in a journal. But I'm finding it really useful recording my progress as a writer. The questions I ask myself and others, the influences I'm noticing, that sort of thing. There's no way I could do that on the computer, it just seems too impersonal and also I have no idea how to do diagrams on it.

The web-store has just emailed me to say they are out of stock of the brown ones. So now I have to decide whether to wait for new stock or get the black. It will probably take me so long to make that decision that the brown will be back in before I do! Is nothing simple?

I'm pretty sure your girls won't want to delete your journals, I can't think of anything more delicious than finding access to my mother's thoughts. Or, truth be told, anyone else's!

Leigh Russell said...

A visitor to our house once found SIX pairs of scissors down the side of the sofa cushion. We all laughed when she pulled out the first one... by number six we were hysterical.

Love the idea of the journal. I once kept a 'happy book' where I wrote down good things, and stuck in pictures, tickets, etc. It was time consuming, though.

Pendullum said...

Looks like a great book loaded with wondrous surprises...
And now you will fill yet another....
What a wonderful gift to yourself...
And for those around you who will benefit from your prose!

Mary Witzl said...

I've got my mother's journals, Eryl. And you're right -- I would never get rid of them. But my girls are different animals, bless them -- and I'm a lot more prolific than my mother was. I suspect she worked a lot harder than I do...

Eryl Shields said...

Leigh - hello, how are you? Six pairs of scissors? Bloody weird.

Pen - Thank you.

Mary - they're still young, I'm sure they will be just as nosy as us in a few years.

problemchildbride said...

I cringe looking back at teenage diaries. Was I really that much of a numptie? I'm afraid of the answer. My sporadic journals before age 12 were far more interesting and far more sensible.

Eryl Shields said...

I love teenagers for their numptiness, it's like they are trying to get all their life mistakes in by a certain time. I'm very glad to say that I didn't keep a journal as a teenager and so have no evidence to suggest I was anything other than boringly sensible.