January 13, 2016 § Leave a comment

It occurred to me yesterday, in a little thrill of dismay, that an outside person can make me do whatever they want. They have the power of imagination, the utility of visual memory – I am a puppet with as much free will as a Sim left alone with a bored little brother.

But then I realised I have that ability too. I read an article by a man who struggled with grief when his mum died and he detailed some journalling techniques he’d used. One method is dialogue. I can write any conversation I please. If I have a bad experience, I can rewrite it and therefore gain clarity and closure. If I see someone I’m interested by, I can bring their personality to life in words.

I suppose I used to do this a bit with Slow Writing (sorry, me, I let that slip didn’t I?). You do need some way of keeping journalling a safe place, and I always found those restraints very protective of my creative freedom.

I did write a dialogue not that long ago, I remember now. I wrote that thing to Little, my younger self. BUT – I didn’t let her reply. I’ve often played with talking to my former problems but they’ve never talked back. Maybe they should. Maybe they’d have something to show me.

I’ve been lamenting my lapse in diary writing recently. I wrote in my diary every day for about eight years. I was passionate about it. Those books allowed me to experiment with angst, poetry, sexuality and fear. I can’t remember exactly when I stopped but it was a mistake. Maybe I’d be more sane now if I’d kept it up.

But! It’s never too late, is it? I’ve been thinking it was about time I started carrying (and using) a notebook again. Less diary, more journal. For observations, for scraps of this and that. My work notebooks are frankly disgusting; I could never get joy from a scribbled mess.

One of my very favourite diaries is from when I was about 13. It’s blue velvet with a silver pattern on the front and has a silk bookmark that ends in a glass bead. In that book, I glued magazine cuttings, photographs, classroom notes. I drew charts, I listed favourites. It was half diary, half scrapbook. All me.

I’m afraid of losing the minutiae, you see. I remember things now in broad strokes, but I recall in detail things from my youth because I wrote them, played with them. I learned to write by copying phrases out of my favourite books and rearranging them into poetry. I did the same with my own life – and now I don’t.

I suppose it’s because I got too busy living. It’s easy to obsess over a moment if you have hours in which to do it and not so many ‘moments’ happening in your average day. Now I’m a grownup and we don’t have time for moments, though I’m sure it’s not that we don’t experience them.

Luckily for me, I live in nostalgia. I am in love with a man who will stay up all night with me, listening to old rock songs. I am in love with a man who will tell me I’m not too old to put on the mini skirt I was wearing the night we first kissed. I am in love with a man who thinks a head tattoo would be a fine idea, who will ride next to me in the freezing night with the roof down. Maybe we’re living new nostalgia all the time.

Well, that will do.

To A Notebook

July 13, 2011 § Leave a comment

Moleskine Diary - The Ultimate Notebook

A notebook. Creamy pages blank with promise, bound with dusty green fabric and tied with a grosgrain bow.

Few people understand this obsession. I have probably around thirty blank notebooks, most of which I will never write in because they are ‘too good’. I don’t buy them to write in, I buy them to imagine what COULD be born onto those pages. It’s the optimistic and anticipatory feeling of a fresh start, and I don’t like to sully that with my messy writing. I see myself more as a discerning collector. The kind that sniffs the binding glue, guages the caliper, observes the grace of the page lines.

So they stay blank and perfect and pile up in my wardrobe, alongside my hundreds of filled notebooks. When I was young I was so poor that I’d write in anything. I used to buy school excercise books in packs of five from the 99p store, and cramp my writing in real small. I still have them, ‘School Notes’ one to twelve, as if that would stop my predatory siblings from looking…

My first collection of poems is written in an old accounts book that belonged to my grandfather. At the time I just grabbed it as a source of precious paper, but now I’m so glad I have something of his. It’s destroyed, filled with words, with pages falling out and letters stuck in, but it’s me; who I was and who I thought I’d be now. Ha. How misguided I was as a child.

It’s so bizarre to look back at almost 13 years of my words. It is easier to look at the child I was at 9 – distant and alien – than it is to look at the girl of 18, throwing herself violently at life and thinking that was it, grown up, done. I want to shake her, tell her to work hard, drink less, be nice to her parents. I know all that bollocks about ‘I wouldn’t be who I am if…’ and I agree, my mistakes have made me who I am. But I wish, I WISH I could take some back, or erase them from my notebooks and my mind.

But I can’t. I couldn’t force myself to destroy those tentative and naive steps into adulthood. The girl in the pages is a stranger, but I want to keep her safe. I fear forgetting her, forgetting the people, the things that happened. It’s like a story that I don’t like, but I know means enough to be saved from the flames.

This famous bookcase of mine will be home to all these thousands of words. I think all my diaries, books of poems and blank notebooks will probably take up a whole five foot shelf, and it will mean so much to me. After so many years of cramming myself between their covers and carting them around from home to home, they’re finally finding their resting place. The final home where they can be…not CELEBRATED, but honoured for what they have meant to me.

Paperchase Diaries - Paperchase Notebooks

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