Moleskine shelf

Last night I marked the kind of small accomplishment that brings a spot of joy to these otherwise cold, gray days. I filled my most recent Moleskine.

As someone who’s been journaling on and off since high school (and we won’t do the math to calculate how long ago that was), I’ve written my way through lots of notebooks. Even greater, though, is the number of notebooks I’ve started but never finished. Life has interfered with writing, or a blank book that looked lovely on the stationers’ shelf has turned out to be uncomfortable to the hand or too scratchy under the nib. In a word, I’m picky when it comes to journals: when I happen upon a brand I like, I become obsessively loyal to it, stocking up on extras “just in case” Apocalypse or market trends make it impossible for me to buy one when I need it. Like Seinfeld’s Elaine hoarding a closetful of her favorite contraceptive sponges, I have a Moleskine stash that should keep me writing for, say, the next few years. (Yes, this should tell you something about my social life: forget about being sponge-worthy; what I want to know about any given person is whether they’re interesting enough to be chronicled in one of my precious Moleskines.)

I adopted large, lined Moleskines as my journal-of-choice back in August of 2002, and since then I’ve filled eight of them. Before that, I was obsessively insistent on black Blueline recycled-paper composition books: they open flat, are narrow-ruled, and have a medium-sized page. And they’re black: my journals must be black. Yeah, pretty journals are, well, pretty…but we’re talking the tools of my writerly trade. When’s the last time you heard a carpenter insist that her hammer had to be pretty?

Large Moleskines are smaller than Bluelines: large Moleskines nicely fit in a bag or purse. (Yes, I choose my handbags on the basis of whether or not I can fit a notebook in them: forget about carrying a wallet, my notebook is the True Necessity.) Moleskines’ compact size and elastic band make them more easily portable than my Bluelines ever were, and I really do stash stuff (stamps, stickers, stationery, photos, addresses, business cards, laptop backup CDs) in the rear pocket. Although Moleskines are substantially more expensive than Bluelines (the latter being intended, after all, as a school child’s comp book), Moleskines simply feel more substantial and serious. Carrying a Moleskine and pen (Waterman Carene fountain: the best $200 anyone’s ever spent on me), I feel like I’m carrying the toolbox of a working writer. Moleskines mean business, and I feel that when I write in one: although I have (and have thrown out) many a half-filled comp book, I’ve consistently filled (and kept) all my Moleskines, eight down and counting.

And now I’m working on number nine. Today is bright and sunny with highs predicted to top the freezing mark; this afternoon I have a date to meet Ivy and Beth, two of my long-time blogreads, for hot beverages and book-browsing. Yes, the morning after starting a brand new notebook, it looks like today’s going to be imminently Moleskine-worthy.

    For all the bibliophiles who are squinting to see what else is in my collection, I keep my Moleskines right under my God Shelf, which is home to the sundry remnants of my Bible-thumping days as well as books by and about my favorite Christian mystics: Merton, Rolle, Julian of Norwish, Teresa of Avila. And for Reggie, a guide to Dog Health and Care. This triptych to God, Writing, and Dogs says pretty much all you need to know about my life priorities, thank you.