The excitement and anticipation of a new notebook

Do you remember film ?  Taking home an new box of Kodachrome 64 slide film.  Gently prising open the yellow and red cardboard flap and retrieving the hermetically sealed foil wrapped canister.  Then finding the bit of foil that rips easily and getting a slight whiff of the cellulose as the seal is broken.

ImageImage  Kodachrome 64 film canister and box

36 virginal instances of delight just waiting to receive and record whatever takes your eyes fancy.  Or 36 opportunities for wanton wastefulness should I choose to snap away with unbridled abandon or take time and compose each shot to absolute perfection ensuring that composition, focus, aperture and speed dance in total synchronicity to ensure the perfect image is sent back to me in a couple of weeks perfectly mounted in a beautiful mount waiting to be projected to seemingly infinite size onto my screen.

That feeling of eager anticipation and trepidation has gone forever with digital only instantaneous feedback of either a good or bad capture.  Then again a bad capture can often be rescued in post production.

I feel a similar sense of excitement or doom when I slit open the wrapping on a new notebook.  Those crisp and creamy pages waiting eagerly to receive my thoughts, ideas, ramblings and doodles.  Am I going to to sully those pages with a pencil.  A good old fashioned one that requires sharpening or one with the clinical precision of a propelling hypodermic styled implement.  My favourite pen is a Pilot Frixion rollerball where mistakes or changes of mind can be easily erased.  It is amazing how something looking so permanent can be simply removed with just a few strokes of the rubberised tip.

Maybe I will use the total statement of opulence in the form of my Mont Blanc Meisterstuck resin and platinum medium tipped royal blue ink ball pen which flows with permanence and style often only used to impress clients.  I have never been able to bring myself to use a disposable bic styled biro nor anything with a promotional logo on the side.  I find them so utilitarian and disposable.  Not somehow worthy of my often pathetic and almost unreadable scribblings.  I also find the permanence stilts my thought process as I know that one single mistake will be visible forever in the beautiful notebook.  A permanent reminder of my fallibility.

My scribblings feel elevated somehow when placed into a good notebook with a good writing implement.  The notebooks I favour most have understated and classic black covers, fit snugly into the pocket of my jacket so are available instantly should I need to get something down on paper.

Image  3 months worth of Moleskine notebooks

The Moleskine which was once primarily used by arty types has become popular with the general public through good marketing and excellent distribution or the German Leuchtturm notebook are both my favourites and both with their individual strengths and weaknesses.  Moleskines have hard covers and a pocket where I can store receipts, business cards or other stuff that might otherwise clutter up my wallet.  

The Leuchtturm also has a pocket but comes with a tactile soft cover so is better for stuffing into my jeans.  Leuchrrurm means lighthouse in German.  I kind of like this as I am drawn to the solidity and permanence of lighthouse structures and that they are sited in remote and hostile environments by the sea.  It has numbered pages so I can index my thoughts with teutonic efficiency.  Not quite so many thoughts though as this notebook has less pages than the Moleskine.

I fill up a dozen or so of these notebooks each year and sometimes when a new project starts so does a new book often way before the old book is full.  Each time this happens I think that perhaps a Filofax would be more suited to my lifestyle however the rings always seem to be in the wrong place for my left handed writing clunkiness.   Filofaxes (or filofaxi) were an excellent invention but for me better left consigned to the 1980’s.  I do however still use an A5 filofax for complex business projects where more space is required.  I did find a 6 ring system that is slimmer than most whilst on a recent trip to Shanghai which is less cumbersome to carry in my messenger bag.

A small black notebook coupled with my iPhone is all I really need.  A quick method of taking down notes, writing to do lists and speedy mind mapping held on perfectly styled paper and an electronic database of contacts, important reference information and appointments synchronised with my macbook through iCloud on the iPhone.  When I’m travelling really light I resort to just this and a Fisher Space Pen which is guaranteed not to leak in my pocket.

I do not like the conformity suggested by lines in a notebook.  To me they distract.  The Leuchtturm comes with dots that act as a guide but do not push my writing in any particular and uniform direction.  The Moleskine is plain and is perfect for sketches, mind maps and doodles.

If there was a diary with the just date at the top and only dots printed on the pages this would be perfect for me.  Constant scouring in stationers has been so far fruitless but maybe one day.

There are Moleskine and Leuchtturm diaries as well as loads of different styles of notebooks available but the system described above works for me.  There is also a fusion of electronic and paper in the form of Evernote but if ever I want to capture my written thoughts electronically the iPhone has a perfectly good camera where the images are instantly uploaded back to the cloud.  A remarkable innovation in comparison to that Kodachrome 64 slide film.


Relative merits of Moleksine, Leuchtturm and iPhone written in a Moleskine Pocket Notebook and on an iPhone 5

Pen is a Pilot Frixion slimline


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