Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Thursday 1 March 2012

The Magic of Paper

There isn’t much need for stationery for the modern writer, is there? Or is there?

You wouldn’t think so. I’ve already mentioned in these pages that I write in Pages, fullscreen, so that only the piece of paper is before me on an otherwise black screen, and only my words appear upon it in black. I do not like visual distractions, so I don’t even have a visible desktop while I’m working. When I’m really getting serious, I don’t have twitter throbbing away in the top right hand corner of my screen, either, coming and going with nuggets of gossip, information and the flotsam and jetsam of modern life.
Every word I write goes straight into the computer. 
I have just spent the last hour ogling stationery, though. I bloody love stationery, so, when I read the word ‘Silvine’ in Lucy Mangan's article in the guardian online this morning, I couldn’t resist sticking the word in Google and sifting through the ‘Classic’ range, where I found examples of the exercises books I used at school. It was a little bit of a heaven on a Thursday morning. There were the orange lined books, and the little blue manilla ones we used for music notation. Some of those books had lined paper and some plain, and some had half-and-half, where there was room to draw a picture at the top of the page and write about it below.
That’s where my story telling began, and I will forever be nostalgic about stories like, “What Moses Did Next”, and “What I Did During My Summer Holidays”. The former being an example of my take on the magic that might have been R.E. and the latter a great opportunity for making stuff up.
The blank page has never filled me with the kind of fear that others suffer from. Every blank page offers me a new opportunity to begin.
So, I shall continue to buy stationery, and some of it will really only be for looking at, but those little black Moleskines will continue to be filled with ideas for stories and those post-its will continue to hang off the bottom of my Mac, covered in lists of events and names of characters. 
And, when all is said and done, rejections would almost be nicer if they winged their way home on the backs of stiff little postcards made from gorgeous watercolour paper, but you can’t have everything.


  1. I'd have to agree. Although I'm not exactly a stationary fiend, I cannot function when it comes to writing without writing out a written draft first. It's something thats only really taken effect when I started to write longer and more complicated work that I've taken this habbit on. I think its because it gives me some comfort knowing that my work is a real, physical thing rather than some simulated blotches on a computer screen.

  2. I only write fiction on the computer, but my notebook (Paperchase A5) comes with me everywhere. It's sturdy enough to sit on a bookcase and they come in enough shades and patterns that I can remember which one those gravestone quotes are in or that freewrite I dashed off in Winchester cathedral's coffee shop. I'm definitely a stationery junkie. Poetry drafts go in there, even if they get edited on computer later, then I print off the latest ones and paste them in the notebooks.

    And those rejection cards are an excellent idea, especially if they come with chocolate.

  3. I also LOVE stationery. My personal favourites are Clairefontaine lined, hardback A5, which I then bind in interesting Florentine paper, or paper I decorate myself with swirls of gouache. That's for my journal and private thoughts. For everything else, there's the Paperchase brown backed spiralled A4 pad. Oh, and I write with a fountain pen. Eventually, everything gets transferred onto a MacBook Pro called Fenice.