Not a Writing Neurosis but a Writing Indulgence

For years I resisted the Moleskine notebook, believing it to be the preserve of the poseur writer (and I’m not wrong about that, but it’s not the SOLE preserve of the poseur writer, that’s the point) but a clever friend gave me a Moleskine and immediately I was hooked. Thank you, clever friend.

Hemingway used them, which cuts no ice with me. Papa and I would not get on. But Bruce Chatwin used them, which slices a fair number of icebergs, as I do believe Utz is one of the finest short novels I’ve ever read. Above all though, once I’d started writing in my Moleskine, I knew I would never, from choice, use another notebook.

And today I closed Moleskine #3 for the last but one time. Its pages are full of novel – written from front to back, and short stories – written from back to front and they’ve met in the middle, with just a half page of blank space and lots of notes and telephone numbers and thoughts jotted down with weird little chapter break markers that I love drawing because they make me feel like a publisher, or at least a type-setter, although such lovely creatures don’t really exist any more.

Moleskine #3 has a star drawn on its top edge to remind me not to open it upside down, #1 had a moon and #2 had a heart. Moleskine #4 has a leaf. I’m not a visual person, or not very much so, but I spend quite a bit of time thinking about that little doodle and what it says about the novel that’s being written inside the book. #4 will bridge finishing the current contemporary novel and starting one about World War I: the latter features an orchard, so the leaf is symbolic of my desire to get to that work. The star on #3 reminded me that one of the characters in the novel I was writing then would probably have been a musical success, if he hadn’t died tragically young.

And I will open #3 once more, to copy over to #4 all the story ideas and fragments that didn’t get used up in that notebook’s life. It’s bittersweet, but satisfying, and having the old notebooks stacked up under my desk reminds me that I am a real writer, after all.


  1. Jim Murdoch
    21st June 2009

    I never knew there was a cult of the moleskin notebook. I only have one now because Carrie bought me one. It is kinda cool though, far posher than all my others. I look through them every now and then and the one thing I’m always struck with are the number of ideas that never came to anything, loads and loads of false starts.

  2. Anonymous
    24th June 2009

    Kay, There is writing, and there is talking about writing. They amount to the same thing, though: writing. Which, in itself, amounts to very little. What do you think? You don’t have to accept this as a post, still less respond; but once upon a time we had something to talk about, and now we don’t. Something got in the way: I wonder what it was?

  3. Kay Sexton
    27th June 2009

    Oh Jim, such a cult! You couldn’t see a ‘meedja’ person in the nineties without a moleskine. I once had a board meeting with some meedja folks and of the eleven present, nine produced the same damn black notebook from their Armani satchels!

    Anon – no idea I’m afraid. I can’t recall ever having a conversation with somebody I hadn’t been introduced to, even if I did other things with nameless folk, so I’m as much at a loss as you.


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