22 May 2012
Creating New Magic
I wrote yesterday about the trials and process of dealing with the loss of magic in one's journal. Once you accept and mourn the loss of one, however, you must move on and discover the enchantment in another journal.
In some ways, choosing a new journal is more vital to me than saying goodbye to one whose magic is gone. I've always felt journals to be precious, magical devices capable of eliciting unencumbered creativity -- so long as you choose one which suits you as an individual. Weird, old-fashioned notion? Yup. Have I tried to break myself of that idea? Yup. Did it work? Hell no. Do I argue with my 'process' of selection anymore? Hell-to-the-no. It just drags out the ordeal, and it can be a long and daunting enough journey as it is. Until I reach a day where 'any old blank book' will do (and honestly, I kinda hope that never occurs), I'll keep to my list of qualifications.
1. Easily portable, but not tiny. I'll buy larger journals (and occasionally sketchbooks) on occasion, but they tend to be for special projects and seldom see use. In order for a journal to become an extension of my writing and creative habits, it's got to be able to fit easily into a medium-sized bag with all my other take it everywhere crap. 5x7 or less in size, but not too small because then it feels like I cannot put anything of decent length in it without having to turn a page every ten seconds.
2. Place marker. I don't care what style it is, or how fancy, I just need something to mark a place in the journal to which I will pick up next time.
3. Lines. I MUST have lines for writing in a journal. Blank pages are daunting enough, the lines provide the tiniest amount of structure in what I otherwise see as a terrifying blank canvas. Plus, it helps keep my furious writings at least barely legible (to me, anyway).
4. A durable cover. It doesn't have to be hard; it doesn't have to be leather. It just needs to be durable. This book will live with me for, typically, at least a year and that requires it to be able to withstand a lot of getting shuffled and bashed around.
5. Paper of decent thickness. I usually write with mechanical pencil, however at times I write with fountain pens in dark ink. I don't want my scribblings to bleed through to the back of the pages. That's a waste of valuable writing space and again can sacrifice valuable writing time to having to flip pages too often.
6. An overall design and construction that is comfortable. See above re: carrying this thing everywhere. The cover design/color must appeal to me. I dislike sharp corners or edges as I can press down pretty hard when writing and don't like cutting myself when I really get into a tear and write twenty pages in an hour. It also cannot be too heavy, again due to the necessity of carrying it with me constantly.
7. Instinct. This is, obviously, the one aspect I cannot describe with objectivity. So long as it meets the above qualifications the only reason I choose one journal over another tends to be because I just happen to see one and my internal compass points and says, "That one!" And no matter how many journals I find that meet the above requirements, I will not purchase a book that doesn't pull me to it. I need to feel the magic. It must hit me before I ever sit down and start a single word.
At times, this search for a new magic tome has taken weeks of seemingly endless toil -- hours spent in bookstores and on the interwebs hunting for a book that not only fulfills my requirements but reaches out to me, personally, and voices that it belongs in my hands, and mine alone. Thankfully, when I felt the magic draining from my now dearly departed Red, I happened to find a replacement without an arduous or lengthy search. Another clearance item, it beckoned me from an end cap display. The size and weight are perfect, the pages crisp, lined, and decently thick. It even bears a resemblance to a previous journal which my parents got for me as a gift and holds the majority of (the handwritten portions of) my first novel. Above all, the instant I laid eyes on it, I knew. It knew.
It put a spell on me, and now its mine.
I know I'm not alone in this, so what, gentle readers, are your requirements for a new journal/sketchbook/notepad?