Notebooks & Pads.

One of the most Quixotic quests of my writing career is the search for the perfect notebook. I have the feeling that there are a lot of other writers who have tilted at the same elusive windmill.

I’ve used everything from small pads that I lose almost immediately, to bound journal things with built-in bookmarks that seem too elegant to ravage with my impatient scrawl. Notebooks with pockets, dividers, and even strips of ribbon to mark my place. Spiral-bound at the side or top. Notebooks with plain, lined, or even graph paper. Traditional pads? Don’t get me started. Yellow, gray, pink, blue. Letter & legal side. Eco-friendly and not-so. One for each project—a designation that lasts about a day. Clipped to clipboards and inserted into slits made for just that purpose in folders designed exactly, and in my case unsuccessfully, for that purpose.

Some people claim the secret is to keep using one notebook, regardless of subject, until it’s filled. I’ve tried that. The battle between my creativity and futile obsession to keep things organized turned the poor thing into an illegible war zone.

I’ve tried starting from the left with my left-brain ideas and from the right with my right-brain ones. Pretty soon, I forgot the difference. I never reach the center from either side, anyway. Plus I’m a lefty, of course. Which, in terms of writing left-to-right, is a handicap that only Leonardo ever overcame gracefully.

Every few days I grab all the notebooks and pads in sight, transcribe anything I think could possibly ever have any value, and then either tear out the pages or draw harsh lines across the rest. Which, I may one day regret.

My favorite is still the “Service Writing Tablet” that my father had leftover from World War II. Unfortunately, I must have torn out any pages I (or he) wrote on. But, on the rough cardboard-like back, there are references to magazines for a paper I wrote in 1965 or 1966. I can see…it’s more a feeling…the kid who wrote them.