Monday, May 25, 2009


That Picometer is starting to get to me. No, it's worse than that. It's one of those bullies that pokes you in the ribs hard and makes nasty little comments in your ear - you've written how much? - what percentage of the book? - it hasn't gone up since when? w-h-e-n? That pointed mouth jabbing like a beak - forward, back, forward, back. It's picking on me, everytime I open up my blog [see right hand column.] Which was the whole point, and the reason I shouldn't complain. The thing is I have been a little - shall we say - 'distracted' lately and not focused on getting novel stuff down on the computer, but I have written pages and pages of Precarious in my moleskine cahier (A4) - word stats unknown. I really have. So yah-yah to you, Picometer. You don't know everything.

Speaking of the wonderful moleskines [used by Ernest Hemingway, Picasso and others], I realised last week that my moleskine notebooks [as opposed to the cahier] had filled up again with those scrawled notes writers are compelled to make - things seen, heard, thought about: all useful when you sit down to write. To fill the gap, I had taken to scrawling notes for the novel inside my diary and on odd scraps of paper, an approach which hinders my writing because these things get scrunched up and lost and forgotten about. Inside a moleskine, not only are my scrawls easy to find when I need them but they are elevated somehow on that heavy, creamy paper into the useful/fabulous/felicitous/prescient etc etc and therefore worthwhile additions to a fermenting novel. Without my moleskines I am thinner-skinned when the Picometer begins its bullying, because I am not sure I have all that much to be going on with. Here they are - I like the plain cardboard covers [second from the back] the best.

So last week, I went to one of my favourite stockists of Moleskines in Wellington - Vessel in Victoria Street which sells pottery mostly, including my favourite Steve Fulmer and Paul Melzer cups - and asked for my usual pack of three slim cardboard moleskine notebooks. No, they didn't have them, but they did have these bright shiny new plastic-covered, super-bright Moleskines called Volant. The blue ones shown here, and a pack in LIME GREEN.It took me a while to digest, the future of the whole novel seemed to hinge on getting the usual three-pack; I stared and poked, and tried to think straight. I told the lovely woman at Vessel that the Volant books are clearly a sop to the popular market - for people who think their notebooks need to be SHINYand LIME GREEN instead of USEFUL and LEGENDARY. I said I was taking a big risk switching to them. Who knows what would happen. I sighed a lot and asked to see if the back of the new bright moleskines held the signature envelope to put things in. No, it didn't.

So I jiggled around for a bit, thinking of the time - I had somewhere to get to - and the whiny Picometer, and the novel languidly waiting to be written. Then I made a decision and bought a pack of two Volants - notebook size - and a two-pack of the mini Volants [just to see].
So far, I've filled up half a dozen pages, no trouble, in each. The paper's the same, thank goodness, and I suppose the Lime Green is kinda cheery on these bleak winter days. So now I am armed next time the Picometer starts its reedy rant.

I feel better already.


Rachael King said...

I love my picometer. It's my conscience. The Chch Art gallery shop has a fantastic moleskine range.

Do you know what I've found? I make pages and books of notes, but once I've written things down, I really go back and look at them. It's as though the act of writing it down cements it in my unconscious, so I don't have to.

Gondal-girl said...

oh mary, I hear you - I like the plain ones the best, all those colours are rather jarring indeedy. There is a great website in Melbourne that has them all the time and ships to NZ too, I shall track it down for you

Mary McCallum said...

Rachael - you're right - once scrawled down the thought seems to be set somehow and can be lifted without reference. But when I'm stuck I flick back through the notebooks and find the things I need there to keep going: a gesture, a theme, a detail that can open up a whole scene or section of the book.

GG - thanks I'd love to know the Melbourne website. There is a bookshop here that has the moleskines but it's one of those hated chains that I hate to be seen entering. I've tried to get a local gift shop to get them in - I might put a little more pressure on now things are a little desperate.

Gondal-girl said...

that is it, I think.

I feel the same way about my Claire Fontaine notebooks, however very difficult to get outside of the US or France, so plain card cahier have been my substitute....

Vanda Symon said...

Ooh, I saw some of the Volants in UBS today. I did resist them, this time.