Friday, May 12, 2006

The Stationary Agent

Hey, Crabman.

Today, I come to you with a confessional of sorts. I’m a stationary addict. There, I’ve said it. It’s out in the world now, and I can’t take it back. But, you know, admitting it is half the challenge, right?

Before I dive into the fine print of my obsession, allow me to indulge in a moment of pedantry. I think it’s worth drawing an important distinction. Writing involves the usage of some kind of utensil such as a pen, in conjunction with some kind of media such as paper. Using a computer is typing, not writing. OK? OK.

You may disagree. And you may not be wrong to disagree. But this is my view of the world, in all its skewed majesty.

Amongst the many reasons why writing is superior to typing: paper doesn’t crash, it doesn’t need upgrades, it won’t erase your words, it won’t be infected by a virus, it doesn’t need batteries or a power source of any kind, and it can be used anywhere.

This reminds me of a line from an episode of cult 80s dystopic cyperpunk TV show Max Headroom, in a scene where Blank Reg has to explain what a book is: "It's a non-volatile storage medium. It's very rare. You should have one."

Non-volatile storage mediums. Gotta love ‘em.

Also? I’d rather stare at a blank white sheet of paper than the blank white screen of my monitor. Better for my eyes, anyway. Not to mention the fact that transferring scrawled words from a notebook to a Word file can also be called “a Second Draft”, as you do away with the misspellings, clunky sentences and just good ol’ fashioned shit ideas. In the immortal words of Errol Brown, “Everyone’s a winner, baby, that’s no lie.”

But I digress. I was talking about my stationary addiction. I love stationary with unashamed abandon. I love creamy white unspoilt pages just waiting for me to violate them with my unruly words. I love the whorls of dark ink as my pen glides across a page, seeping into the dead trees, leaving behind a mixture of divine inspiration and useless bullshit.

I carry a notebook around everywhere I go. You never know when an idea, or a character, or a line of dialogue, or an observation will drop, unprompted, into your mind. Also, I have a diabolical memory sometimes, so if I don’t write something down straight away, I might lose it forever. Other times, when I have some minutes to kill, I’ll whip out my notebook and just start free-writing, throwing up whatever shimmies across my parietal lobe at that moment. Sometimes all I end up with is a haystack, but occasionally I find the needle too. And that’s what counts.

And when I have trouble articulating something that I can visualise, I just sketch out a frame or a panel of action, knowing that when I refer back to it later, it will make more sense than if I had rambled on for a page or so trying to describe what I can see in my third eye. Can’t do that on my PC, either. Only on the Mighty Paper.

So, I’m a whore for stationary. I think I’ve made that clear by this point. But what kind of stuff punches my buttons? Well, for portability, I do love me a Muji notebook. Simple, elegant, takes a licking and keeps on ticking. I can cram it in my pocket or in my bag, beat the shit out of it, and it still stays perfectly bound at the spine, so I don’t lose any pages. A perfect receptacle for my scribblings. I’ve got a small pile of these, and I still need to grab a few more.

For long-from writings, I have a gorgeous Paperblanks Saddleworn Old Leather Wrap Journal, something that I treated myself to when I received my first paycheque from my current job, lo those many months ago. (I’ve also got one of their Back Pocket minis that I haven’t broken in yet).

And then there’s the functional Ryman hardback notebook with unruled pages where I stick newspaper and magazine clippings for reference and inspiration. And the battered old WHSmith journal that is filthy and damaged, well-used and much-loved. She’s the madam in my brothel of stationary.

To extend the metaphor past its break-point, the virgin in my stable is an Italian suede-bound journal that must have cost Mrs. AKA a small fortune when she bought it for me a couple of Christmases back. I haven’t managed to bring myself to write in it yet. I feel intimidated by its purity, and I don’t want to sully the pages with anything substandard. I’m saving it for something special.

I am powerless to walk past anywhere that sells paper in any of its forms, and I gaze longingly at displays of journals, forcing myself not to reach into my pocket for my wallet. (Thankfully, I haven’t been bitten by the Moleskin bug yet. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before I weaken).

Anyway, just wanted to share the love. (And I didn’t even start to talk about pens…)

If the stunning London weather holds up, I might take a notebook for a walk down to the side of the canal, and share a beer and a chat with it at lunchtime.


b apyrophiliac said...

All true, folks. I was in Rymans with AKA once, and he was startlingly glee. Paper and pens aside, we got to the stackable filing aisle and I swear, tears of joy were forming in his happy, happy eyes.

I didn't look or ask at the time, but I bet he cracked a stiffy.

AKA said...

Yes, stationary can cause my blood to be diverted at innoportune times...

And you are my Enabler, B!