Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Journal Lust

I have a problem.

Here's the scenario: over the summer, during one of my many visits to Blackwell's in Oxford, I somehow failed to avert my gaze when walking past the journals. Instead of getting the heck out of there, I headed straight for the rotating display and proceeded to handle those lovely bindings. (I almost said "manhandle" but ladies like to grope things, too, don't they? It's just . . . we tend to grope purses and books and teapots. Or maybe that's just me.)

One of those journals was so gorgeous I just couldn't resist. Even though I already have a closet full of journals too impractical to be of any use--pretty little books that don't open flat, are too small for my gorilla hands, are narrow-ruled or have no ruling at all. But they were all so pretty I just couldn't help handling them, which inevitably led to acquiring them.

That day at Blackwell's I told myself "Sonia, you CANNOT buy another journal until you fill all those orphaned journals in your closet with thoughtful thoughts. DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT."

Yeah right. I bought the journal. Isn't it gorgeous?

It's a Paperblanks Grolier Ornamental, if you're interested in one for yourself.

Part of the deal for me is I'm enamoured with fictional depictions of journals and journal writers. Like László Almásy (Ralph Fiennes) in The English Patient, when he uses blank pages of his battered copy of Herodotus for writing poetry and painting pictures. Or Roland in Possession, who writes poetry in his journal, too, but also uses it to hide the stolen draft of Randolph Henry Ashe's letter to Christabel LaMotte (or is that just in the film?). And of course, there's I Capture the Castle, but I already exulted over Cassandra Mortmain and journal writing in this blog post.

I shouldn't forget the film adaptation of The Importance of Being Earnest, which was memorable to me only because of Cecily's amazing leather-bound journal that looks almost like an illuminated manuscript (it appears around 1:38):

Yes, there's all sorts of romantic schmoopery going on in that clip, but you know what I was thinking? "Let's see more of that JOURNAL!"

In the end, I did make good use of the Grolier Ornamental from Blackwell's. It has become my research journal for a new story. Who says a research journal has to look serious and researchy? Can't it be pretty? I've jazzed it up by coding the ink color and putting sticky notes all over the place. I'll probably paste photos and stuff in there, too. It actually inpsires me just to look at the thing, so I count this as a WIN for journal lust!

I know there must be others out there who share this depraved and insatiable appetite for journals. What attracts you to a particular journal? And how do you use that crazy sexy thing? (You know, that thing you bought with a stack of crumpled singles because you didn't want your husband to see the charge on the credit card bill?) Do you have favorite fictional/cinematic depictions of journals? Please share!

P.S. If you like the look of that stack of journals in the photo at the top, go here for more info!

[Cross-posted at Livejournal]


  1. Journals, picture frames, and stationery. They're my weaknesses!

    1. I can relate, though of those options, journals rank the highest with me. Pretty paper and bindings just make me weak in the knees.

  2. I'm pretty much a sucker for any journal that looks old and romantic. That one you found would probably greatly attract me. It feels like something out of a historical or fantasy story.

    I fantasize that I will somehow write amazing, thinky thoughts in them. It happens for a little while, but then it subsides.

    I currently have dozens of journals with maybe ten pages written upon before they're abandoned like a callous lover.

    Poor journals!

    1. I currently have dozens of journals with maybe ten pages written upon before they're abandoned like a callous lover.

      Well said! I know exactly what you mean!

  3. Beautiful journals used to intimidate me because I, like rosiewook above, thought they should be filled with only "amazing, thinky thoughts." And I also thought those thoughts should be original to me. I did much better with my journaling when I finally realized not all those amazing, thinky thoughts had to be mine. My most successful journaling effort is one I started about a year ago, when I decided to write down other's thoughts that struck a chord with me. My journaling is still not perfect, mind you, but a big improvement over past efforts!

    1. I like your idea, Dee Dee. Sometimes we just need a question or thoughtful phrase to get the wheels turning.

  4. Oh, man. I have SO MANY journals that sit on my shelf empty because I can't think of a use worthy of their prettiness. Love them so much though.

    1. It's funny, isn't it? Because you write SO MUCH every week. But it's going digital instead of on the page. I do remember my paper journal languishing when I started blogging all those years ago.