Musings 1: Notebooks

Welcome to the first of my musings. These will be posted regularly alongside my short stories. I encourage all readers to let me know their opinions on every topic, because that is all these are: my opinion.

Notebooks. In the writer’s community, beautiful notebooks are seen as these holy objects, to be collected and then never touched. Whether you write by hand or on a computer, chances are you have a collection of cool-looking notebooks from Target or WalMart or gifts from friends.

It is a very well known unofficial rule of writing that we are not to mar the pristine pages of these tomes with our unworthy pens. And so they sit, countless pages on countless shelves in countless rooms. Untouched. Unused.

So here I confess a secret. I have broken this rule. I have committed the ultimate sin by bringing my pen to paper inside the faux-leather cover I spent twelve hard-earned dollars on. And not only will I continue my heathen ways, I hereby encourage every writer of every age and skill level to do the same. Gather closer, dear reader, and I will tell you my secrets.

This rule that we writers follow stems from our own insecurities. We don’t want to Ruin the beautiful notebook with our half-baked plots and unoriginal characters. We don’t want to risk leaving it half-filled and forgotten. We want to save it for the Perfect Story that will come in some far-off era, when we have transcended human error and can write a perfect novel in its first draft.

This line of thinking is absolute trash.

There will never be a perfect moment, a perfect story. Waiting for one will only end in dusty notebooks. I am of the opinion that it is far more heinous to deprive the notebook of its purpose, and is, in my opinion, the highest form of reverence.

More than that, the simple act of allowing yourself to use the notebooks you pined over in the stationary aisle is in itself a divine experience. Pulling each one from the shelf to determine which one fits your story, which one matches the elegant setting, or the rugged, sarcastic main character. This is what the notebooks are for. Using your hoard turns the very act of writing into an even more wonderful thing. And your writing, however crude or amateur, deserves a beautiful home. You are adding to its magic, not defiling something sacred.

Yes, the notebook may end up torn and bruised and full of writing you never want to be seen by another pair of eyes. But you have made it yours. You have unapologetically made your mark on the world, and that is commendable. To write is to put a piece of yourself on the page. Such an act deserves the gift of beauty.

Do not worry about the story within being complete, or perfect, or even legible. This tome is yours, to share or hide or tear. Do not limit it to a single story if you think that will leave it unfilled. Break the rules. Burn them, scatter them, and build something new. This is what we do when we write. To trap ourselves with arbitrary laws that protect no one is to go against our purpose as writers.

I leave you with this: it is not a sin, not blasphemy, to use your notebook hoard. It is not irreverent. If notebooks are holy, they are only that because of the beauty they will eventually hold.

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