In praise of durable office supplies

Some writers need – or at least claim to need – to hand-write only in the finest moleskine notebook, handcrafted by artisans from quality ingredients (etc etc). Myself, I’m a scrawler, and this level of luxury would be lost on me. Not to mention, I might lose it. Notebooks, generally, are disposable items, and I have several on the go at once.

However, I do have a preferred item for handwritten musings beyond jotting down of the odd idea: the A4 pad. But not au naturel. No, for the last two decades the majority of my hand-written notes (and few complete early stories written out in full while I was learning the craft) have been recorded on pads of paper inside a blue fold-over clipboard emblazoned with the name and logo of a long defunct IT company. This wasn’t a conscious decision – because, well, a clipboard is not a cool-looking item, but the combination of a strap rather than a clip (to allow pages to be torn out of the A4 pad without removing it and interrupting my flow) and a loop to hold a pen on the inside hinge (so if I have ‘my notepad’ then I always have a pen to write on it) made this my most useful writing accessory ever. It even had a pocket on the inside of the flap to store sheets of paper I had already used in.

My clipboard has lasted remarkably well, although it has looked somewhat battered for the last couple of years, with foam and cardboard poking out of the corners, and a certain patina of wear throughout. However, last week the pen-loop broke, and I had to concede that this faithful item, acquired for free on a long ago course during my old career, has reached the end of its useful life. I have transferred the current A4 pad to a new clipboard, albeit an inferior one with a metal clip and no pen-loop or internal pocket.

And yet, I can’t quite bear to throw the old clipboard out. I’ve left it on top of a pile of papers in t’garret, where it can go into graceful retirement, until I can face actually binning it. Hmm, now I think about it, maybe I am as precious as those writers I maligned for their love of moleskine. It certainly does feel like the end of an era.

4 Responses to In praise of durable office supplies

  1. Pippa Jay 3 June 2013 at 7:03 pm #

    Well, it sounds a bit more practical and less showy than moleskin…

    • Jaine Fenn 3 June 2013 at 7:24 pm #

      Its practicality was the thing; I started off with romantic ideas about beautiful notebooks, but my faithful clipboard just did the job better.

  2. Anne Lyle 3 June 2013 at 7:04 pm #

    Ah, the old faithful clipboard! I still have a couple that I acquired in my roleplaying days – perfect for keeping your character sheet in decent nick. They don’t see much use nowadays, but I’m loath to throw them away.

    I have to say I’m pretty OCD about notebooks and pens – it has to be the right notebook (whichever brand I’m currently into) and the right ink for that notebook (fountain or biro, black or blue). I think I may need help…

    • Jaine Fenn 3 June 2013 at 7:26 pm #

      I cannot tell a lie: my clipboard may also have been used for gaming purposes.

      Hmm, you do appear to have it bad. Having said that, there’s no point in me getting attached to a particular pen, given how many I lose.

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