Monday, March 31, 2008

Laini Loves Notebooks

I don't just love notebooks. I kind of rely on them. I mean, my writing brain is a high-maintainence little machine and it needs certain things, like Pilot extra-fine Precise V5 rolling ball pens (in all colors) and Clairefontaine hardcover notebooks (collaged, as above). Of course, primarily it needs my computer. That's where "the real writing" happens. Notebooks are for notes, right? Who could write a book in a notebook??? That's crazy talk. Right? Right?

It's a symptom of my affliction (stultifying perfectionism) that things must be Just So. I like writing on a computer because I can edit myself as I go, neaten things up, futz with sentence until they satisfy me. Writing by hand, well, it's messy. And, it's hard to make corrections, handwriting can get out of control, hands sweat, and substances might even get spilled on the pages. The horror! I'm actually being serious. These things bother me. I would like to be the kind of writer who only needs their brain, a writing implement, and a notebook -- I think of Neil Gaiman writing chapters on airplanes bound everywhere in the world -- but I have not so far been able to be that writer. I'm caught up in my mild insanity, my rigid, precise little world of Just So.

But I am going to rebel. I'm going to try something mad. Something radical. I am going to write a horribly untidy, perfectly imperfect first draft of the new book in a notebook! I've even got the notebook:

It's the purple one. It's not just any random notebook, not any thin-paged thing from the drugstore. I'm still me, still mildly insane. I had to find a fat, tidy notebook with nice thick smooth paper, and this one is it. I feel a mild terror at the prospect of trying this new thing, writing in a new way, but I'm really excited too, and also a little fretful that my brain won't let me do it.

We'll see. I still, of course, have my "notes" notebooks. Those are the Clairefontaines. Here are the two newest ones:
Filled with ideas, names, strange facts, etc. Most recent little research ramble: Nimravids, a long-extinct sabre-toothed mammal that is thought to have evolved parallel to Smilodon and the other sabre-toothed cats. It was not a cat, it walked plantigrade, which is a new term to me. We walk plantigrade; it means our whole foot, heel and all, touches the ground when we walk -- unlike cats and dogs, who walk on their toes.

And those crazy big saber fangs? Those evolved three separate times, so they must have been useful and functional, but as far as I've been able to determine, no one really knows how those critters used those big fang choppers. I mean, there's speculation they'd have to be able to open their mouths 120 degrees just to bite. How did they eat?? Look:

Speaking of critters, behold the beginning of my CLAW COLLECTION (my thumb thrown in for scale):

Top row, l to r: Grizzly bear, Polar bear, Mountain lion, Wolf
Second row, l to r: Harpy eagle, Bald eagle, Red-tailed hawk, Barn owl

Claws are cool, no? Can you believe that harpy eagle talon? It's actually bigger than the Grizzly claw! Want to play "What would you rather get attacked by?" No? Aw, you never want to play!


Amber said...

Your notebooks are lovely. But can I ask why you decided to try writing a book by hand? Just wanted to shake it up?

I should send you one of my dad's toenails for your collection. Crazy! hehe


Deirdre said...

Those claws all look deadly - even the small(er) ones. Yikes.

I haven't written in a notebook for sooo long. A different kind of story presents itself when I write with pen and paper. I miss those stories, but apparently not enough to sit down and write one.

Did you know Isabel Allende writes all her books longhand in yellow legal pads?

Alex S said...

Did you say "mild insanity?" I don't think so Fatty. Every day I see you I notice a huge chunk of your sanity melting away, just like the dripdripdrip of the polar icecaps! This writing the whole thing by hand is going to be very, very interesting to observe. I'm not sure if you can handle it. If the process makes you go crazy, then you can do only one thing to restore your sanity: replace the snowglobe somewhere where it can restore the ever delicate balance of the energy field in the living room. (Am I ever distraught or what about the banishment of my little skull! I can barely handle it.....)

Alex S said...

Amber! That was such a GREAT idea about your dad's toenail. Laini's husband's birthday is coming up end of April and I was really flummoxed about what to get him-now I'm not! )You don't by chance have any of those indented glass cases that can be hung on walls, do you Amber?)

Amber Lough said...

Laini, have you ever heard of the Thylacoleo? It's a prehistoric marsupial lion from Australia (of course). Really cool. They had a show about it on Nova last week.

Laini Taylor said...

Amber -- Ooh, a toenail! Sounds good. As for why I'm trying writing in a notebook, it's just a new way I'm trying to trick my inner editor. My "normal" way of writing involves so much endless rewriting, even before I get very far in the story, and I've always wanted to write a first draft all the way through. I don't know if I can!

Deirdre -- I DO remember hearing that about Isabel Allende. And I remember she wrote The House of the Spirits at her kitchen table. I thought of that while writing Blackbringer at the kitchen table :-)

Alexandra -- No comment.

Amber -- Cool! I'll google it. Thanks!

Left-handed Trees... said...

Well, I have to say...if Amber's dad's toenail ends up in your collection you don't have to share pics--we'll take your word for it! ;) Oh wait--writing, that's right...I was going to say that I wrote all of "Migration Summer" in notebooks and I loved it. For book two I was playing with creating it right on the computer and completely froze! Yes, it takes longer, but there's something about that pen on paper thing I cannot get over...hope it goes well for you!

Q said...

Handwriting in notebooks just makes me want to cry because my handwriting is so bad. However, I still carry around a notebook for those times when an idea comes and I have no computer to write in.

Alex S said...

No comment? We'll see about that when I bring over the best CD music mix I have ever made. This is going to be the best driving experience you have ever had in your life. You can know now that there will only be one Harry Chapin song on there!

Cate said...

Whoa, those notebooks are so cool! Do you sell them? You should!


Erin said...

Your notebooks are GORGEOUS! I, too, have a thing for notebooks...and journals.

lkmadigan said...

Well, thank God you found the RIGHT NOTEBOOK!

You can do it!

I can't ... but YOU can.


tone almhjell said...

I think the notebook writing sounds like an exhausting, annoying, demanding project - and therefore a fine idea :)

We used to able to write stories with only two goes in school, right? For six hour exams, one draft and one final draft, which was supposed to look pretty, but in my case always meant fixing the language and ending up with the same horrible hand writing.

But I liked my stories, and accepted them as they were, more so than the stuff I write on my computer. (Because they're never really, really done. They can always be fiddled with. I've lost count of how many versions and rewrites the first chapters of my book has been through, and if someone one day agrees to publish it, I'll probably harass them to tears. "I just made a few changes..".)

You did get to write short stories in high school, too, didn't you?

Brandon said...

Those Pilot roller ball pins really are the shit.

Caty said...

Your notebooks are wonderful! (you should make notebooks as well) I love clairefontaine as well. Blank ones.

Have a great writting!

dailypanic said...

Nothing could be worse than being attacked by a person's toe nail!

My choice to be attacked by would be the mountain lion. There is something to be said for the cleanliness of cats...
And the best I could hope for is that he would leave a knarly scar that I could talk about and the worst would be that he was hungry and finished me off.
Love purple & polka dots- happy writing!

Alex S said...

No comment? No comment? I'll show YOU No Comment Fatty! (I don't know what that means. btw, call me, I need to know where you keep the hamburger buns for the backyard BBQ!)

Candice Westberg said...

Laini, those claws are awesome! I went through an apothecary-like phase for a while a number of years back and ended up with three rodent skulls (squirrel, muskrat and something else... can't remember), a complete mouse skeleton, bird wings (which I intend to mount and hang on my studio wall one of these days!) and miscellaneous insects. Speaking of... I have a pair of blue jay legs; don't ask how I got them but they creep me out now. I would love for them to find a home with someone that would really get some use out of them especially as a teaching aid. If you want them I would love to send them up your way to add to your collection. Unless it's a little too macabre. (Too macabre? Ha!) Anyhow. Awesome collection so far.

lil abner said...

how do you design your notebooks?
are they diy?
comment back please
ps: notebooks are super cute
love love loved the purple one
is it possible for you to make me a few? + if so how much are they?pss: purple is my fave color thats why i lve it

Rain Warrior said...

hope most of those are resin the harpy eagle red tailed hawk and bald eagle and owl talon are illegal to have if real and the polar bear has to be pre marine mammal protection act of 1972 documented. good luck,