Clearing out my bureau last week I found a desk diary. Blank, but six years out of date, probably bought by my mum then lost and replaced before January rolled around. I will have been given it at some later date as a notebook: A4, hardback, lined paper, and reasonably easy to ignore the date, status of the moon, religious festival list and all the rest in the top section of each page.
I don’t use notebooks lightly. Scrap paper tends to be my first choice, followed by notebooks I’ve made out of scrap paper. I cramp my writing into corners and around printed text, changing direction or using different colours; at work, no-one but me can decipher my phone messages, which all get written cross-wise in the periphery of whatever piece of scrap paper is my main focus that week. So you can see why a pristine hardback desk diary might languish in a cupboard for a few years, waiting for its proper purpose.
I think I may have found its proper purpose. It’s like when carvers pick up a piece of wood or stone and see the figure trapped within it, waiting for their skill to set it free – I looked at the book for the first time in months and a great chiming sense of recognition swept through me. It’s been waiting for a full year of use; it would never be content with the casual page here, page there life that some notebooks have. Scribbled pencil notes would never darken its crisp white pages. What it needs is a daily dose of fountain pen.
So, at the request of an outdated desk diary I think I’ll declare 2013 the year of writing daily. It’s a habit I try and maintain anyway, with varying amounts of luck, but I mean to see if I can stick with it, even if it’s only a paragraph. Describing the sunset, the journey home, the way the cat’s chest moves as he sprawls snoring on the sofa – there should be enough to spark something off every day. Some of it will make its way into a finished piece, but I’m intending it mainly for exercising the brain (that way I don’t have to copy everything up and miss the point of having a laptop). I may even start early: a notebook with a purpose is hard to resist.