Dear Notebook Fetishists

Notebook From Nepal Third anniversary has come and gone. Somehow, I continue to bewitch the wife with some sort of mad voodoo done on my behalf, because she has not yet recognized that she is way too good for me.

We had a lovely weekend in Kennett Square, and while there, we bopped into The Paper Market, where we met a dude named Doug, who has a crazy vibe all his own. It’s infectious, this vibe. Like syphilis, but without all the lesions and insanity? I dunno. What I do know is that Doug’s a good dude and runs a bad-ass little stationary chic place there, and you should go there and peruse his wares. (Actually, I guess you should really buy his wares. Perusing doesn’t put food in the man’s stomach.)

I found a little journal thing, some free trade notebook bound together by the dainty hands of Nepalese 4-year-olds or something, and I fell in love with it. So, I now own it, and you’ll see the picture of this new purchase over yonder to the left.

What’s the problem, you ask?

Okay, I’m not one of those notebook fetishists. I’ve never held a Moleskine, and up until recently, had little idea what constituted a Moleskine notebook. Mostly, the phenomenon escaped me. Modular notebook made of recycled plastic and lacquered yak hair? Cool. Whatever works. The pages pressed from orchids grown out of soil composted from unicorn feces and corn-cobs? High-five. (And, may I recommend that you tapdance over to Re-Paper, which is Sara Hindmarch’s “hackbooking” site?)

Mostly, I guess it’s because I’m a big techno-guy, and am happy to bang away on my keyboard and fill up the nigh-infinite canvas available before me on a glowing screen. Oh, and as I may have noted, my handwriting is for shit. Literally. You’ll have an easier time reading a shaky tract of worm poop.


I used to hand-write things. Poetry (which was on par with medical refuse), journal entries (I should go back and marvel at those someday), some short stories. Despite the tangled chromosomal abortion that is my handwriting, I can actually read my own scrawl, so that’s good.

So, this takes us back to the present, where I bought a notebook. Once more, you ask, what’s the damn problem, Wendig?

The problem is, what the hell do I do with it? It’s really super-cool. I get an awesome journal like this, and I don’t want to waste it on whatever garbage I’ll smear across the pages. “Dear Diary, had a great bowel movement today, I really miss Gilmore Girls, I should totally learn how to windsurf, do you like me, or do you like-like me, check YES or NO, oh holy crap math class was hard today poop stupid OMG la la la wooo snargh mmmnnggh, ZZZzzzZZ… huh?”

Sure, I can use it for fiction, but again, I feel like  I’ll be sullying the pages. It’s just too nice a book.

So — what? To-do-lists? Hateful screeds against my enemies? Rejected pirate names? Sudoku? What the heck do I do with this notebook? I’m seriously asking, here. Maybe I just put the book up on a pedestal and marvel at its raw potentiality. I am overwhelmed by possibility, it seems.


  • If you really hate your handwriting, and you really love the notebook, why not make it a scrap book instead? Printed bits from articles you love, conversations that thrilled you, clips you type up of moments that changed you. Save it for the stuff that gives you thrills… Sort of a Chuck Bible. Lit quotes and maybe the occasional picture of your wife, or whatever.

    (Totally unrelated: I have never seen such beautiful skin. I just gotta say, like, not in a Buffalo Bill kinda way, but I’d kill for her skin.)

    • See, I thought about the scrapbooking approach — only trick is, the paper itself is of such a unique texture that it begs to have a pen dragged across it. Scrapbooking anything over those pages diminishes the texture, I think.

      Though, I will now commence and complete the Chuck Bible.

      Yea, and Chuck said unto the gathered throngs, give unto Chuck all your worldly possessions, and buy him ice cream. And lo, they did, and it was good, and they were admitted into The Tabernacle of Wendig to have their feet suckled by the temple prostitutes. — The Gospel of Steve Wilson 3:14

  • Draw and write your own Codex Gigas. Nobody could judge your handwriting in it.

    If you’re unfamiliar with the Codex Gigas, it’s only the coolest book ever.

  • It only the weirdest book ever. Nobody is really sure if the writing in it is fake, or some made up language. If it is, nobody has ever been able to decode it.

    If there’s a function to it, it’s not completely certain.

    I don’t know how there’s not a World of Darkness equivalent.

  • I think you’re thinking of the Voynich Manuscript, David:

    The Codex Gigas is in Latin, and readable by the right sort. It is an extraordinary work, and much recognized as “The Devil’s Bible,” but the Voynich is the one in the inscrutable language. You can get a complete PDF of the thing online, though I wouldn’t print it out unless you’re prepared to wrap it in tinfoil to disrupt its transmissions.

    Meanwhile, a good scrapbook can use both paste and pen. E.g., make yourself a Henry Jones, Sr.-style Grail Diary. Make something in your own voice that the next generation will shit themselves over when they find it, ’cause it’ll be “OMG a notebook of Wendig before he won the Edgar, the Pulitzer, or the Medal of WTF?!!1!”

    Sara (thanks for the shout out) made me a book for our past London trip, which I loaded with maps, printed emails, and contact info before I went (a travel guide!) and notes I made, of sites seen and fictions invented, during the trip (a travelogue, too!) See here. The covers are wrapped in a London tube map.

    • Definitely zeroing in on a scrapbook idea. Usually, I’d been using the hard-plastic Mead notebooks for that type of thing, as they accept the bulk of taped-in additions, but maybe I’ll try it with this one.

      Of course, I still don’t know what the hell I’m going to slap into it. As noted in an earlier post (The Process), I’m using those little notebooks to build up steam on different novel projects.


      I guess I just need my own crazy Codex-slash-manuscript.

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