I’ve noticed lately a habit I’ve developed of writing very small and fitting two lines of writing onto one line and even writing over the margins. It’s as if I’m worried that paper will run out. In my house at the moment there’s dozens of blank notebooks. Like most writerly people stationery is very attractive to me. In a shop the other day I found a notebook I’d been looking for for ages — Paperchase used to sell a yellow lined book then stopped — I found one somewhere else and at the checkout I realised I was probably looking disproportionately happy and excused myself to the assistant saying ‘I’ve been looking for one of these for ages, I’m a bit excited’, she looked puzzled and said pleasantly and in a reassuring tone ‘well love, we always stock these’.
It made me think about paper and how we take it for granted, and also how easy it is for us to write here, there really is nothing stopping us. I wrote a poem about a woman who had dozens of blank books, but was in darkness and couldn’t see what she was writing, so it does seem to be a preoccupation of mine. I watched Life of Pi last week and Pi, shipwrecked has only a little survival handbook and a single pencil; he writes tiny words in all the available blank space. Tibor Tollas and Irina Ratushinskaya, both imprisoned poets, wrote on soap, memorised their poems and then washed them away.
My new year’s resolution was to fill books, but Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones and other similar creative writing books depress the hell out of me, I picture a pile of books in the corner filled with rubbish, for me to have that would be horrible. I’d be worried always that among all the nonsense I’d miss something that was real, because how do you keep track of all that writing? I’ve lost track of mine already and I’m far from prolific.
Perhaps the bulk buying of notebooks is just like regular panic buying, saving for the apocalypse (or when the shops are closed at Christmas); I do have a lot of chickpeas and canned tomatoes too. If I had to stay in the house for some reason, y’know with an electronic tagging device or something (I dream about that sometimes), I think I could be happy and I’m sure I’d write loads!