a quote from my favorite author

“The most solid advice, though, for a writer is this, I think: Try to learn to breathe deeply, really to taste food when you eat, and when you sleep, really to sleep. Try as much as possible to be wholly alive, with all your might, and when you laugh, laugh like hell, and when you get angry, get good and angry. Try to be alive. You will be dead soon enough.”

-William Saroyan, The Daring Young Man on the Flying Trapeze

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It All Depends Upon a Notebook

The best part of going back to school is the brand new supplies.  Am I right?  This weekend I was reminded of the power of the right supplies. 

A few years ago when I went to Maine to fulfill an internship at Nancie Atwell’s Center for Teaching and Learning (cue angels singing), I needed a notebook in which to record my observations.  Having only brought with me a regular spiral, I was delighted upon coming across a fabulous handmade notebook at Rock PaperScissors (a to-die-for independent shop in Wiscasset, Maine).

This notebook quickly became my favorite notebook.  Ever.  Some people might think my affinity for just the right notebook odd, but I know you get me.  Perhaps I fell in love with this notebook purely due to the magnitude of the purpose it served for me.  But whatever the reason, I was smitten with the width of the lines, the cleanly boxed borders around the page, and the quadrille print on the backside of each page.  I admired the weight of the chipboard cover and backing and the durability of the spiral binding.  The original cover art made my heart pitter-patter. 

I made my husband return to Rock Paper Scissors to stock up on more of these notebooks while I spent my days at CTL in the presence of greatness. 

Before long, it was summertime, and I was ready to get to work preparing myself for the following school year.  My preparations regularly included creating handmade custom monthly calendars and lesson plan books for a growing number of colleagues (and myself).  I have never found commercial plan books and the layout of their boxes to fit the way my brain organizes information (again, I am confident you get what I mean).  So, I always made my own.  However, this time I wanted to find a way to make my handmade products more like the notebooks I found in Maine. 

Lo and behold, there was a website on the back.  I was in luck!  Sara Blette at Make My Notebook was willing to work with me to create a custom layout.  For years now, I have been ordering her monthly calendars and lesson plan book (similar to a weekly planner layout) for my colleagues (and, of course, myself). 

I am reminded on a daily basis, when I use my calendar, how important it is to have just the right notebook.  However, I was especially aware of this fact this past weekend when I finally got to meet Sara, a Colorado based artist and notebook maker extraordinaire, at the Renegade Craft Fair. 

Life is good.  And I have just the right notebook in which to document it. 


  1. You do your best when you have the right supplies. Sounds like you've found the creme de la creme of notebooks.

  2. Hey, glad you posted and linked! I missed reading your slices. As usual, you have such a distinct voice. You are so funny. And wow, hanging with Nancy Atwell. Sounds AMAZING! Also, thanks for the link for the custom notebooks. Very very cool! :)

  3. I like seeing your writing back, too, and this time about the paper & the notebooks. I do 'get it'. I have a special spiral with pockets that works for planning & have to stock up in case I can't find one. The writer's notebook is different & I've ended up with several kinds, each one special in its on way. Thanks for reminding me of that special way that teachers get ready for school.

  4. I wonder how that love of paper, and lines and edges is born. Thanks for the link.

  5. And not only the right notebook, but the right pens also! My students laugh at me as I decide which of my many pens I'm going to write with during the day.

    Glad to see you back, slicing and posting. Missed you!

  6. I totally get you with this...and will echo the others in saying I've missed your slices.
    The right notebook, the right pen. I matters. A lot!

  7. I'm glad I'm not the only one who gets excited over school supplies! :-) I wish you had posted a picture of your notebook so we could see it -- it sounds so special!

  8. I can relate to having a favorite notebook. It has to have a certain feel and look. I am thrilled you linked to RockPaper Scissors.

  9. Thank you for sharing your excitement for the just right and personal notebook and calendar. I will keep my eyes open for the just right notebook for me.