A New Notebook for Words


A brand new notebook! I’m giddy with excitement. Am I the only one who enters a store and heads straight for the stationery department? The only one to dally and daydream over choices before moving on to pick up other more mundane items on the shopping list?

I have a stack of empty notebooks that almost equals the height of my To Be Read pile of books. I love all writerly tools of the trade but I have a weakness for special notebooks, particularly journals with covers in colours and textures that inspire creative words.

Maybe only another writer can appreciate the delicious anticipation of opening the cover of a brand new book, and, with pen poised, choosing the perfect word to initiate the promising blankness. Unlike beginning a new manuscript, where the pressure to produce the right start to an entire story can push us into a panic attack, it’s a gateway into the adventure of free expression.

Now, as I run fingertips over the leafy texture and consider what that perfect first word should be, I remember this poem by Sandra Heska King (thank you for permission to reprint, Sandra):


What’s in a Word?*



mined from



planted on



dispersed with




jewel with



pregnant with


filled with


and rich


a million



Do writing tools make your senses tingle with anticipation for the word? Or are they simply a necessity required by the task? Not counting your computer, what’s your favourite writing tool?

(* Copyright March 2011, Sandra Heska King)



Published by Carol

A freelance writer of fiction and non-fiction living on the West Coast of Canada.

15 thoughts on “A New Notebook for Words

  1. I changed day jobs last week. I went from an office job in a cubicle to a print shop where I’d worked twenty years before. I’d been at the office job for thirteen years, a longevity record for me. Previously my job tenure had never exceeded five years in any one place. The boss died; the position was abolished by corporate change; I got bored; something – anything. My last day, the coworkers and boss threw me a small party with a parting gift.

    I’ve not yet used it, but it was one of those computer pens that records the conversation while you’re taking notes and will play back from you notes whatever you have missed. You can plug it into your computer and the notes automatically download to a program. Silly thing is smarter than I am. I can hardly wait for a free weekend to try it out. It was an incredibly generous gift.

    I was feeling really guilty about the price until I got to figuring that it adds up to about one USD a month bonus for each month I worked there. So maybe I’m worth that.

  2. As a child, I was drawn to the stationery department, where I would browse, deciding which treasure I’d purchase. I loved fountain pens with turquoise colored ink! After many years as a legal secretary whose days were spent typing, cutting, pasting, reviewing, rereading, and revising, I became so at-home in this environment that I have almost lost my ability to write with a pen. I can do it, but I’m messy! I exclusively use my keyboard for first draft, revision, everything with words, for me, is plucked out at the speed of speaking. I could never write that fast. Blessings to you, Carol…

  3. I love Sandra’s poem, and I love your new notebook! I agree, there’s nothing quite like a beautiful new notebook…. *happy sigh* (Easy to please, aren’t we?)

  4. Well, I too am a stationary store habitator (is that a word?) as you know, in fact my favorite “home owned” bookstore has one right next door…VERY convenient 🙂 And like Carol Ann I don’t pen as well as I used to; sometimes my writing is so squiggly I have to look hard at every word, but I continue to write long hand. I remember a teacher I had who gave me a sharp rap on the knuckles with her yard stick for not doing my “cursive” writing properly. And do you remember that slick three hole wide lined writing paper we used to use in school? I LOVED that paper. As for notebooks… I’ve got mznyy but always can use MORE!

  5. Oh, it’s lovely! I like the poem, too; I’d never read it before.

    I love retractable highlighters and erasable pens. I work in a an office supply store, so see all the new goodies when they come out–such fun!!!

  6. One of my favorite things as a child was one of those fat, clickable pens with different colors to chose from.

    Now I love the look of notebooks and smooth pens, but my handwriting is terrible and I find myself crossing things out all too often. I guess I really just like to write on the computer!

  7. I love journals and notebooks! There’s nothing quite like the slow physical formation of the perfect words. I used to love to write with a fountain pen–the kind with those cartridges. Do they still make those?

    One of my favorite tools right now is a Moleskine reporter’s style notebook. It fits perfectly in a side pocket of my purse. Saves jotting notes on napkins, etc.

    I’m honored that you shared my poem, Carol. You bless me.

  8. Masters of any trade or craft probably have their favourite tools. I remember my father, a masonry contractor, having a particular trowel that he preferred using. He said it just felt right… fit his hand better than any of the others.

    Judith – I’ve never seen or used a smart pen, but I can imagine it would be wonderful for note taking at conferences and workshops. And I’m sure you were worth it! 🙂
    Carol Ann – When it comes to speed, I’m more productive using a keyboard, mostly because I have arthritis in my hands. But I’m more creative when handwriting.
    Shari – I recall that, like me, you loved selecting new school supplies every September, too. I wonder if that was a clue to our future interest in writing.
    Norma – Yes, sketch books are good, too, especially if you’re an artist. You’re showing your love of both in creating those wonderful treasure books… pages of writing alongside pages of sketches.
    Elderfox – I read somewhere that cursive writing is not going to be taught in schools any more and I think that’s a shame. It’s an art of its own.

  9. Ooo, Jeanette, how wonderful to work in a stationery store! It’s like a chocoholic working in the Cadbury factory. I’m envious. 😉
    Rebecca – I still use one of those four-colour pens with black, blue, green and red inks. It’s handy during revisions for noting different requirements like typos, added text, plotting diagrams, etc.
    Barbara – This journal has the leaves embossed. But I also like some of the soft-look finishes and subtle colours. I’m a sucker for nature inspired designs, too.
    Sandra – I haven’t noticed the fountain pen cartridges around, but then haven’t really been looking for them; ballpoint pens are so handy. I like the fat ones. The moleskin notebooks are pretty nice, I must admit.
    Karen – I hadn’t thought of cappuchino as a writing aid, but coffee, chai tea and Diet Coke are indispensable accompaniments to any long writing session for me, so I suppose they do qualify as tools of the trade. 😉

  10. Moleskins are my crack.

    I love to buy really nice, really expensive new notebooks that always seem to come with the promise of something epic waiting to be created. But, because the notebook is so nice and expensive, I’m afraid to taint it with my pen marks. So I have a collection of blank notebooks, which isn’t good, because the next phase of this preservation obsession is likely to be plastic-wrapping my couches.

  11. I love journals. I also collect them! Wow, that’s a nice coincidence. I decorate them with stickers of all sizes, shapes, colours. I like the kind that open wide so I can sit anywhere and write in them. I always take my journal on trips. I filled it every day when we were in Jamaica. Sometimes I’ll find some particularly beautiful stickers or I’ll get the perfect ones from a friend as a gift, and I’ll go through my journal and insert the stickers on blank pages. Then I look forward to the day I can write around that special sticker. Sometimes I completely edge the page in multi-coloured stickers. It’s so nice to know I’m not the only one who loves journals. Just wish my penmanship was better. I had a nice style when I was in high school, but using a computer over the years has done a number on my letters.

  12. Torre – I agreed with Sandra that moleskins are very nice, but if you hesitate to use them doesn’t it defeat the writerly purpose of having them? 😉 You’ll notice my notebook has a spiral binding… makes it easy to inconspicuously tear out an offensive page without harming the book.

    Joylene – We keep running into these coincidences. LOL. Your pages will be much more decorative than mine, however. The only stickers I use are the occasional happy or sad faced ones to point to a particular event. More usual page additives for me are occasional small paper printouts of my photos that get gluesticked in as illustrations of something I’ve written about.

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