I write a lot of things down. In part this is because I no longer remember anything. If I do not write down that I need to talk to the window cleaner, it might be another month before the planets align to remind me while I am in the bath and far from the world of pencil and paper. In part, as I have said before, I have the stationery thing. Also as I have said before, there isn’t much doubt in my mind that ‘being a writer’ is a way of staying in touch with memories of the gorgeous Caran d’Ache pens and pencil cases of my childhood. I have evidence. My first published poem mentions the writing paper ‘I very much liked using’ that my mother used to bring back from her trips to Switzerland to see her family.
Writing about writing is a thing. But writing about writing instruments is even better. Elco is a brand I seem to remember. Etoile (?) is another. They were pads of letter writing paper, 100gsm, with a textured, slightly bumpy surface which really gripped the ink of my fountain pen. Magically, it also made the ink shine. The cover of each pad was a faded navy blue, with a Swiss flag appearing to flutter in its uncluttered sky. They now reside in the loft, in my old school trunk. (If the University of Somewhere wants to offer me a large amount of money for this archive, I am open to offers.)
The writing things down goes on. I have filled at least two bigger-than shoe boxes of small 90mm x 140mm notebooks from the last ten years. They reside, gathering dust, on the top of a book shelf in the room where I do my work. (I am loathe to say office as it is also a sitting room, which contains a TV and sofas. I am writing this now on one of them.) Occasionally I get them down to look at what I was feeling and thinking and reading and noticing thirteen-plus years ago. (I know I said ten. I lied.) At the moment I have a ‘new’ pile of them on my desk, 20-25 at a guess, each of them dated. They are not quite ready to go upstairs into the boxes. That’s because I need to re-read them in case there is a nugget of something (by which I mean possible line of a poem) I might take away and use. I will need to make time for this.
Latterly I have taken to writing down lists of possible titles for blogs (the titles of poems always seem to come much more slowly, if ever). I will need to sift through these as well. From memory I have been ‘planning’ an essay/blog on Frank O’Hara for at least three years. (When PhD students from the University of Somewhere get round to finding out, I am sure they will let me know.) I have not got round to writing it yet, obviously. All I keep doing is writing down the title, so I don’t forget.