Every time I go to a Dollar Tree or a Big Lots or somewhere like that, I have to buy a spiral-bound notebook. It’s a compulsion.
It’s even gotten to where I have to avoid the school supplies aisle in the supermarket. I always end up with a Spiderman or Hello Kitty notebook in my cart, and then I have a hard time making eye contact with the cashier during checkout.
I’d probably feel less embarrassed buying Preparation H.
And heaven forbid I spot an Office Depot or a Staples along the highway. That’d be like an alcoholic stumbling onto a Budweiser warehouse. If I do see an office-supply store, I have to swerve the car Steve McQueen-style and speed down a side street.
I feel like Mel Gibson in that movie Conspiracy Theory, where he’s programmed to buy endless copies of Catcher in the Rye.
Maybe I was once a CIA operative whose memory was erased, and instead of having covert-ops skills, I was a voracious note-taker. If they made a movie about me, it would be Tom Cruise (or Will Ferrell; whoever’s available) dropping into the dense jungles of some war-torn foreign country. Flexing his gargantuan biceps, he’d flip open his tattered journal and start scribbling furiously with a leaky pen. (I can tell you from personal experience, it’s a pain getting ink smeared on your gargantuan biceps.)
I threw out a bunch of notebooks the other day, because it was clear I didn’t really need them. Each one was half-filled with half-baked ideas, blog posts that went nowhere, and stories I started but didn’t really want to finish.
That’s not to say they were a waste, though. After all, a rose that blossoms and wilts prematurely is prettier than a rose that never blooms at all. I’d rather scrawl down an idea and throw it away later than to have it flicker through my mind and never have a record of it. I’ve lost a lot of great ideas that way. (Well, I’d like to think they were great, but I might be biased.)
I like to buy notebooks because I love to write. All those blank pages are a canvas just waiting to be filled with a writer’s wonderful prose.
When I see a blank notebook, I’m not seeing the book itself. Rather, I’m seeing all of its imaginative potential. A blank notebook can be a novel, a compilation of essays, a collection of ideas. You can doodle in it, jot down an observation on the fly, record a snippet of a conversation you overheard on the bus.
A notebook isn’t just a stack of blank, lined paper. It’s a potential tapestry of unfettered human thought.
In his introduction to The Gunslinger, the first book in his Dark Tower series, Stephen King wrote how the whole novel came about because of yellow paper. He worked in a college library with his future wife, Tabitha, and they each got a package of colored paper.
To him, that ream of paper was a blank canvas just waiting to be filled with imaginative musings. He took it home, put a sheet in the typewriter, and dashed out the first sentence to what would become not only a novel, but a best-selling series.
I feel the same way about blank paper, which is why I love notebooks. They make me want to create – to write.
It may sound weird, but the mere sight of a blank notebook excites me. My imagination starts going in several different directions, and I start daydreaming about how I could fill all those pages with chapters of the Great American Novel. (Or fart jokes; whichever leaps to mind first.)
To me, a notebook is a blank canvas. And I think all of us have our own version of a blank canvas – something we do that brings joy to others and enriches our everyday existence.
For a gardener, a planter of topsoil is a blank canvas.
For a decorator, an empty room is a blank canvas.
For a landscaper, a patch of weeds is a blank canvas.
For a painter, a blank canvas is … well, a blank canvas.
We all have our own version of a blank canvas. What’s yours?