The Unblank Page

There are ten days left in my current morning pages notebook, and I do not know what notebook I will use as its successor. Having notebooks is not the problem. I have notebooks. I have a lot of notebooks. Some might say I have too many notebooks. Some would be wrong. There is no such thing as too many notebooks. There is, however, such a thing as not having the right notebook, and for those, like me, who take notebooks seriously, this can become an issue.

I am also moving into a new planner at the end of the month, and I have that book on hand already. Morning pages are different. Those are for whatever is on my brain first thing when I wake, and, for those, I prefer for some design element to already be in place. If there are multiple designs that repeat through the book, that’s ideal. I got the same effect by rotating through different colors of ink for each entry, so I’d be fine with doing that again, as long as there is something on the page already.

I have tried, in the past, taking plain lined pages and adding stamped images or fancy washi tape to give some interest, but it’s not the same. I want to come to a page that’s move-in ready. This is going to involve some research, which will mostly consist of combing the shelves at local chain stores, flipping through notebooks and journals on display. There are a few factors at play here. The format of the book, size, cover material and design, whether or not there is a bookmark, the design and texture of the pages, and what sort of pen, what color of ink I will use on these pages, all come into consideration.

This may sound touchy-feely, or special-snowflake-y, to some, but every writer is different. I can only speak for myself. When the right notebook and I find each other, I’ll know it, and that’s going to have to happen within the next ten days, because that’s when this notebook will be full. I kind of like having that kind of a deadline.

Deadlines are great. Deadlines mean there is a limit to how much thinking, how much preparation can be done, because there is an ultimate destination. A post has to go live, there are no more pages in the book, the story is told. I love writing endings, and, since I write romance, that means I get to write happy endings. No matter what went before, the hero and heroine are going to be together at the end of the story, and they’re going to be happy about that. Anything up until then? Fair game.

My favorite endings aren’t sunshine and rainbows all around; there’s an element of the bittersweet to them as well, which only heightens the HEA for the lovers. They may have made important sacrifices along the way, lost people important to them, but they’re still breathing, and they have each other, and that’s a good place to start the rest of their lives. If we don’t see these characters again in related books (and I would love to see more true standalone romances) that’s all right. we know they’re going to be fine. I love sending a pair of lovers off into the sunset that way. After all they’ve been through in the course of a book, they’ve earned some time alone, and there are more lovers to meet. more adventures to be had.

It’s not that different from coming to the end of a notebook. I don’t normally write-write (as in writing fiction) in my morning pages, but I have used those pages to work story problems out, on occasion. So far, I haven’t had a manuscript and morning pages book start and end at the same time, but that could be a goal for 2019. Not saying that it is, but not ruling t out, either. I’ve done a lot of thinking, recently, about why it is I prefer a predesigned page for my morning pages, and why it matters what notebook I choose when I pick out a dedicated notebook (and/or pretty legal pad) for a new project.

What it comes down to, for me, is the unblank page. Pablo Picasso said that all creation begins with destruction. The first mark or dab of paint on a blank canvas destroys the blankness of that canvas. I’m not a Picasso devotee, but have to hand him this one. It’s not only different colors and shapes on a physical page, but coming to the day’s writing with a sense of what will be on the page, be it paper or screen.

Having designs on the page when I pick up my pen for morning pages reminds me why I’m there. Not that I can’t figure it out without pretty pages, but they do make the experience richer. Maybe that has something to do with the kinds of stories I like to write, as well as read. I want the details. I want the information. I want to know what the room looks like and smells like and what the weather is, and if my people are comfortable or not, if they’re tired, hungry, impatient, if the room is too hot or too cold, who else might be around, that kind of thing.

With morning pages, and with writing, the hardest part is putting that first mark on the page. After that, it does get easier. Sometimes, pages are filled quickly, sometimes it takes a while longer, and I am fine with that. Fill one page, then another, and then, before I know it, the book is almost done. Not that hard when one looks at it that way.

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