Orphaned notebooks

When I walked away from the table, there were bruises on the unheard lyrics of my yet-to-be-born songs.
-K’naan

Today, we are experiencing technical difficulties. I had a photo of orphaned (and one not really) notebooks all set to go, but my usb cable has gone rogue (or stayed in the coffee house when I left yesterday.) I think that’s rather fitting. I’ll add pictures when I retrieve or replace the cable, but the pictures aren’t the most important things.

Today’s quote comes from Somali-Canadian renaissance man, K’naan, and speaks of a record deal that didn’t work out. I first saved the quote to go along with the post on stories that wouldn’t make it all the way, but it’s here with the post on orphaned notebooks, because I can feel the loss of the words that won’t be on those pages. Maybe they will be on other pages someday, but the books remain, some pages filled, more pages blank. Each one was picked or recieved as a gift with great joy, started with the best of intentions, and then…

…well, if I knew what happened then, I could probably find a way to leverage that into something financially successful, because I would pay to figure out how to make that not happen again. The connection between a notebook user and their notebooks is a special one. Non-notebook people may not get it, and that’s okay. More notebooks for us. Sometimes, it’s the feel of the paper that calls out for a specific story, or the cover, the binding, the maker, the need for something calm and practical or fancifully wild. Whatever the draw, even the draw of finding something out later, every notebook is wanted, at first. Those that find their way to me, but are not a good match, I like to rehome to someplace they will be loved, or at least used. . Some, I alter, some I leave as is.

But the books. I know. This would be easier with pictures, but, in a way, the lack of pictures works. It’s an ephemeral thing, this connection to notebooks, and not always easy to identify. I do know some; the magenta bonded leather Markings gridded notebook, which I’d been beyond excited to get, to succeed its black, burgundy, and tuquoise predecessors as my all purpose book, is among those. Life events happened while I was getting ready to get to know this notebook, and I haven’t been able to unattach them. Bad juju, as some might say. That happens. There’s an older historical romance, by an author I admire, with a setting I love, that I had to put aside because of a life event that happened while I was reading halfway through, and I know I won’t be able to go back to that book and finish. It’s tainted. Regrettable, but it happens. Will I go back to the magenta notebook? Maybe. I’d like to think so, but it’s not time yet.

The black Picadilly cahier, I went into with high hopes, as Picadilly has sturdy paper, is great for everyday use, and if I could find 5×8 cahiers, my then-go-to all purpose format, in a much lower price than Moleskine, that would be great. It would, probably, except that I can’t get used to the slick covers of these books. One of my favorite things about the Moleskine cahiers is the cardboard covers and the way they feel in my hands. Sorry, Picadilly. Even hacking this book with a paper band to fool my hands (it didn’t) couldn’t make me love this. I try, now and again, but I know it’s not a Moleskine, and it feels like it’s, well, trying too hard. This does rather tie in with things I’ve learned about my own writing, so I get it. Probably as much psychological as tactile.

There are notebooks in which I started stories that I realized I was writing because I wanted to prove something to somebody else (oh silly younger me) or because I “should” be writing X, Y and Z, but the fact remained, I didn’t want to, and so the connection wasn’t there. So, I stopped. I used to feel like a failure when I got to that point, when a perfectly lovely notebook got put to the side because I wasn’t feeling it anymore, but now, I see things differently. Knowing when to walk away is part of the creative process. It’s not failure. It’s identifying something that doesn’t work. As my MIL says, “I’ll know not to do that again.”  Wise woman, that one.

So why keep these orphan notebooks around, if they didn’t work the first time? One of my reasons is my resolve to use what I have. Solves the problem of storing unused (or partially used) notebooks and the temptation to overspend on new ones. I have these. I can use them. Maybe not for the reason I initially thought (and that gives me knee-weakening tremors in some cases) – like the Studio Oh! book I thought would be my blabber book for Her Last First Kiss, but now, clearly, is not. I don’t know what it is now, but I know it’s not time to put it away, so it will be something. The best thing I can say is that their journeys aren’t yet over. Their times, their purposes, are going to come, and I’m not going to force them. Forcing doesn’t get anything accomplished.

Blank pages don’t have to be blank – many of mine come with grids, frames, lines, even watermarked images. Even those that come pristine from the printer, though, are already filled with possibility. I like to page through them now and again, and imagine the stories or notes that will someday be written there. The voices aren’t dead. They’re only resting.

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