My guest today on Stationery Love is Isabel Ashdown.
It would be easy to blame my stationery addiction on my profession. I am a writer after all; I need lots of books and pencils around me.
But in truth, I’ve always been a bit of a stationery hoarder. Ever since I was very young, I’ve loved the smell of a new notebook, the unsullied nib of a fresh pop-up-pencil, the purity of a virgin eraser. Remember starting the school term with a clean exercise book; how you’d write your name neatly at the top, underlining it with a ruler, smoothing your palm across its uncreased first page? By page three or four it was an ink-smeared mess, but that first page pleasure still lingered.
As a child, letter writing was my thing, and so I collected printed notelets, scented envelopes, decorative stamps … I was a huge letter writer, and I’m certain that was where my creative instincts were first developed. When I look back on the letters I wrote to my best friend during our angst-filled teens, they’re not only toe-curlingly funny, but they bear a striking resemblance to the voice of Jake in my debut novel Glasshopper. Writing letters became a place of escape for the adolescent me, and the joy of stationery was a big part of it.
Today, my notebook addiction is arguably out of control. The bundle you see here represents just a small selection from my private stockpile. Every January I tell myself, no more, then I’ll pass Paperchase or Muji and fall helpless to the siren call of fresh paper. And don’t let me near a museum or gallery – forget the exhibition, show me the shop! The Tate, for example, houses some of the loveliest stationery there is …
For day-to-day writing, I favour the Paperchase A5 notepads, lined, with a soft card cover and elasticated closure. They’re light, good quality and I don’t feel I have to treat them with kid gloves. For pens, it has to be a Bic Cristal Grip, non-blobbing with a comfy rubber grip. I buy them in bulk. And as my stories develop, I tend to draft out loose plans on an A4 Cambridge jotter, using a Pentel Twist-Erase 0.7 pop-up-pencil. Other than that, I’m not all that fussy.
My associated passion is bags – not pretty, girly bags – sturdy satchels, made to carry all my writerly stuff to and from book gigs. This is my current writing bag, but I also covet the Millican Keith the Writer’s Bag (for large notebooks) and the Cambridge Satchel Company bag (for small) shown here. Sigh.
Even though I still have more stationery than you could shake an HB pencil at, I’ve got plenty more novels inside me, waiting to be written, and so I can happily justify every stationery purchase I make, knowing that eventually all my notebooks will be put to good use. Well, that’s my line and I’m sticking to it.
Thank you for sharing with us today Isabel.
Totally agree, museums and galleries hold more treasure in their shops!
Isabel Ashdown is the author of three novels published by Myriad Editions: Glasshopper (London Evening Standard and Observer Best Books of the Year 2009) Hurry Up and Wait (Amazon Top Customer Reads 2011), Summer of ’76, and winner of the Mail on Sunday Novel Competition 2008.
In 2013, her essay on the subject of ‘voice’ will feature in Writing a First Novel, edited by Karen Stevens, in which novelists, agents and publishers discuss the joys and challenges of writing a first novel (Palgrave MacMillan).
When she’s not busy stroking notebooks, Isabel writes from her West Sussex home which she shares with her husband, a carpenter, their two children, and a border terrier called Charlie. Find out more about her at www.isabelashdown.com , chat to her on facebook and twitter, or subscribe to her newsletter here.
Oh, and if you visit her Pinterest page, you’ll find even more stationery love there.
(If you missed my review of Summer of ’76, you can catch up here)