Wednesday, July 29, 2009

26) the art of beautiful stationary

the literary life 7/29/09

I have always been big on having beautiful stationary: journals, pens, envelopes, and pencil cases. I enjoy writing with beautiful accessories. In some books about writing, the authors suggest carrying around ordinary notebooks because they are less intimidating: somehow ordinary notebooks let us accept ourselves the way we are. The idea for some is that fancy notebooks and pens pressure one to write at a higher level and can end up causing one to feel inadequate and to suffer from writer's block.

For some reason, I don't feel this way about fine stationary. I do suffer from doubts and blocks from time to time, but typically, they are for different reasons. I like aesthetically pleasing materials. On occasion, I like the challenge of rising to the demands of a beautiful notebook. The fact is, I really don't have a writing desk. If I did, I probably wouldn't use it for much except storage. I don't have one specific writing space. I write on my sofa, my bed, on the floor, at a cafe, at the dentist's office, or in the classroom where I teach. My writing space has to be portable. I carry a bag with me and in the bag I carry my pens and notebooks. I see my pens and notebooks as my writing desk, and I want this "writing desk" of stationary to be aesthetically pleasing and uplifting.

Extraordinary poems and stories can be written in a 79 cent navy notebook, but I don't think gorgeous stationary need be intimidating. I love a fine writing accessory the way I love wearing a cashmere sweater: because it makes me feel good. I love a fine writing accessory the way I love a painting on the wall. It doesn't mean my home can't get messy. It just means that even when there's mess, there's a reminder of higher beauty.

If you don't like writing in fancy diaries, think about one fancy piece of stationary you might like, just for fun: a calligraphy pen, a leather pencil case, an exquisite bookmark. Let it be a reminder of ordinary luxuries, of the textures that accompany the writing life. Make it your writing totem, your portable desk.


  1. Interesting!

    A diary or a personal journal is your most intimate confidante. You can confidently share your secrets with it knowing that your personal diary will not talk to someone. So you should be very careful about your personal dairy. Leather is one of the most versatile materials that finds application in many areas. I would suggest to maintain a leather dairy instead of any normal dairy.

  2. I agree that a personal journal is one's most intimate confidante. Thanks for the comment!