I wrote this on the bus this morning:
I wrote this on the bus this morning. I generally hate writing on the bus because it always seems so pompous. I don’t like to come off as someone who thinks he’s an important writer, or as someone who’s looking for attention. Then I try to tell myself not to care what other people think, because the fact is that all I’m doing is writing in a notebook. And then I pull out my notebook.
The notebook itself, however, may be the important detail. I bought a new ruled, pocket Moleskine to keep track of my ideas. It cost me a pretty penny, but I’m hoping it’ll last me a while. What I used to do was use a text file saved on my desktop when at my computer, or my Dominion Blueline A9 (coming in at a hefty 9 1/4″ x 7 1/4″) when travelling. The Moleskine is perfect because it’s small enough to carry on the bus, and too small (a pocket-filling 3.5 x 5.5 inches) for other people to read over my shoulder. I can’t stand it when other passengers nosily glance at my words.
It has a ribbon to keep track of the current page, a small pocket in the back to keep loose items, an elastic to keep the pages together and prevent damage, and some of the smoothest uncoated paper I’ve ever used. Perfectly, all of the things I look for in a notebook. This doesn’t mean that I’m going to leave my A9 in desuetude; I’ve relegated it to keeping track of miscellaneous notes, lists, songs, etc., recently the only task I have been using it for. The Moleskines also come with a little card in the back explaining an interesting history:
It is two centuries now that Moleskine has been the legendary notebook of European artists and intellectuals, from Van Gogh to Henri Matisse, from the exponents of the historical avant-garde movements to Ernest Hemingway. Many are the sketches and notes, ideas and emotions that have been jotted down and harboured in this trustworthy pocket-size travel companion before being turned into famous pictures or the pages of beloved books.
This long-standing tradition was continued by writer-traveller Bruce Chatwin who used to buy his Moleskines at a Paris stationery shop in Rue de l’Ancienne Comedie where he would always stock up before embarking on one of his journeys. Over the years he had developed a veritable ritual. Before using them he would in fact number the pages, writing on the inside his name and at least two addresses across the world, and a message promising a reward for anyone finding and returning the notebook in case of it being lost.
He even suggested this method to his friend Luis Sepulveda, when he gave him a precious Moleskine as a present for a journey they were planning to undertake together in Patagonia. And there was no doubt as to how precious it was, given that at the time even the last Moleskine manufacturer, a small family-run firm of Tours, had discontinued production in 1986. “Le vrai moleskine n’est plus” was the short and curt statement of the owner of the stationery shop where Chatwin had ordered one hundred before leaving for Australia. Despite having literally swept up all the moleskines he could find, they were not enough.
Now, the Moleskine is back again. This silent and discreet keeper of an extraordinary tradition which has been missing for years has set out again on its journey. A witness to contemporary nomadism, it can once again pass from one pocket to another to continue the adventure.
The sequel still waits to be written and its blank pages are ready to tell the story.
Now I feel free to do this. Write what I want, when I want, where I want. I love writing in this thing.