I’ve lost my notebook. Well, more accurately, I’ve lost a notebook. But just calling it ‘a notebook’ doesn’t do justice to this loss, which I’m quite peeved about, as you may be able to tell. The recent failure of said notebook to be anywhere I expect it to be did get me thinking about the writer’s – well, this writer’s – relationship to her notebooks. Note the plural. And it’s a close, possibly unhealthy, relationship. So, in the spirit of sharing in the hopes of vindication (or ideally, of the missing notebook being magically shamed into turning up), here’s a lowdown on the notebooks in my life:
- The notepad. I sometimes call this ‘my notebook’ because it’s the most used of all such items, but it is in fact a large not-leather folder which houses an A4 pad and my ‘best’ pen. It is used both for brief jottings and proper longhand writing, such as sequences of dialogue or full chapter outlines, as the need arises. This notepad replaced the plastic one I’d got given at an IT course twenty years ago, and whose passing, or rather disintegration, I mourned on this blog last year.
- The ‘bedside’ notebook. Either spiral bound or an exercise book (currently the latter, after I got 10 notebooks for a quid in Poundland) this lives near the top of the teetering pile of books beside my bed. Most of the time I’m in bed the notepad lives on top of this pile, but I’ve been known to leave that in the garret. Hence the backup. I do a lot of my thinking in bed.
- The ‘convention’ notebook. I can be vain, and that’s one reason why the notebook I take to cons isn’t the usual tatty exercise/reporter’s notebook, but a nice A5 booklet with a black plastic cover and – most important this – one of those elasticated straps to keep it closed when it’s being carried around all day in a bag full of Other Crap. It’s not just appearances though, as this is a dual-purpose notebook: I use the front half to keep/take notes for panels I’m doing, and the back for jotting story notes. It has also acquired the phone numbers of some restaurants and pubs along the way.
- ‘Travelling’ notebooks. Ideas don’t just happen at home, I have travelling notebooks, generally slender exercise books which don’t take up too much space in a bag. The number of travelling notebooks depends on various factors (including how much travelling I’m doing) but right now I have two: one general and one specific to $SEXYNEWPROJECT.
Now, can you guess which notebook I’ve lost? That’s right, the one for the new project, the story that’s firing me up. In a slight change to standard operating procedure I have dedicated this particular travelling notebook solely to the project, and it contained notes on plot, character and world building (lots of world building – it’s that kind of project). The book was nearly full, and I was at the stage in the project where, initial introductions being over, we were getting into the meat of the thing. The time had come to take my dedicated notebook, and plunder it. Except it’s gone.
There are writers who say that if you can’t remember an idea and must go back to your notes, then the idea wasn’t that good. They obviously don’t write SFF. I had a whole world in that scruffy, slim volume. And I can’t find the bugger anywhere. So: peeved.