Dear Diary

Normally, I love the start of a new year as it provides me with the opportunity to indulge in my passion (OK, addiction) for fine stationary products.Armed with no less than half a dozen journals, diaries and notebooks of varying sizes and textures, I enjoy spending the winter evenings sprawled out on the couch, dreaming of what I’ll fill them with over the coming months.

2008 has thus far has been a complete let down. Granted, I’ve not had much time to shop, but for the first time since I can remember, the desire to feel up the silky/leather covers of potential notebooks is non existant. Considering I’ve been ringing in the new year with stationary since I was a girl, this is quite worrying indeed. While other kids collected stuffed animals and dolls, I played with desk-sized calendars, organisers and legal pads, courtesy of my dad’s office. One year he surprised me with a bottle green diary.

“Look,” he said, showing me the the gilded edges and tiny accompanying key. “It holds five years worth of secrets.”

By the age of ten I needed a Trapper Keeper to fit most of my secrets. Plus, I had such chunky writing that the elfin pages of my first diary wouldn’t hold my thoughts for the next few hours, much less five years.I thought about that journal today, when I found myself on public transport with nothing to scribble on, not even a scrap of a paper. Nevermind that I’m the type of person who stashes emergency pocket-sized moleskines in her handbag for fear of being caught out. The problem is that I haven’t felt the urge to write for weeks. And even if I had the urge, I’m so uninspired, that stringing a few sentences together is a challenge.

So why the inauspicious, paperless start to 2008?? Can it be that I’ve finally run out of things to say, or just the desire to say them? And isn’t that the same thing?


  1. robert

    Ah, Trapper Keepers. That brings back memories. I used to buy oodles of books as a kid when the book store would get set up in our school library. I remember in third grade I bought a care bears diary. A care bears diary, for an 8 year old boy. I got some looks. Then I had to steal something and get in trouble to recapture some man cred. (But I was writing poetry and stories all the while. Little did they know.)

  2. I have an absolute passion for stationery too. The most exciting thing about my new job is that it meant new notebooks, new folders and a beautiful, red, puckered leather Filofax for christmas which I can’t wait to pull out in every meeting.Love the way your blog is looking..H

  3. My mother-in-law has this stationery fetish too. I didn’t know it was a thing out there. She uses at least five diaries at once – just for appointments, no journal (do dentist appointments need to be written out five times?).There’s no harm in a rest from writing, Niki. You did so much last year it’s no wonder you’re fried. I’m trying to give myself a break but I keep feeling I should be writing some short stories or drafting the next book. I have no ideas for short stories WHATSOEVER but yesterday I got as far as a first line. I think I might just stop there and read a Stephen King novel. Why be prolific when someone else can be?

  4. Yah, there are a lot of us leather sniffing paper junkies out there looking for the next fix, getting our kicks by hanging out by the Paperchase. Troubling indeed. I envision the BBC will do a reality series soon.I think Joyce Carol Oats is giving King some healthy competition. Speaking of… check out this list of prolific writers. 3 — Prentiss Ingraham (a prime candidate for Nano) wrote over 600 books including an inspiring “35,000-word book overnight.” With stats like that, who can rest?

  5. Stationery is great, notebooks are great, i can’t add anything new to that string. On 35k-word books overnight however, I quote Annie Dillard:”Faulkner wrote As I Lay Dying in six weeks; he claimed he knocked it off in his spare time from a twelve-hour-a-day job performing manual labor. There are other examples from other continents and centuries, just as albinos, assassins, saints, big people and little people show up from time to time in large populations. Out of a human population on earth of four and a half billion, perhaps twenty people can write a book in a year. Some people lift cars, too. Some people enter week-long sled-dog races, go over Niagara Falls in barrels, fly planes through the Arc de Triomphe. Some people feel no pain in childbirth. Some people eat cars. There is no call to take human extremes as norms.”Take a breather, Niki. You’ve earned it. The mind will be going in the writing direction again soon enough. Personally, I love taking breaks from mad notebook writing. It means I haven’t forgotten to live.

  6. vee

    In NOT writing you are saving yourself the trouble of having to sift through the not so good ideas.Relax and view all the things that make your brain swell with curiosity. Take it in and see what is out there.I just got into writing again. My block was almost 3 years old. Really confusing and painful. Thought i was done.Now i am getting to enjoy some of the experiences i could not get out before.Some just came back to me from the re-reading of one of your stories.It made me want to actually try to write using metaphors again.I had been writing only using dry facts and feelings. So much that i forgot how to make them bite more.I thank you for that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *