For as long as I can remember, I have loved stationery. As a young girl, I collected notepads, bookmarks, pencils, pens, sharpeners and erasers. I used to keep a old biscuit tin full of them under my bed. I can still remember the smell that puffed out of it every time I opened the lid – a sweetly warm combination of fruit-scented erasers and leather bookmarks. Even today, I am at my happiest when perusing the shelves in stationery stores.
Given all that, I’m sure you’ll understand when I say that today has made me very happy because today was the day that I started my new artful journaling notebook. Now, I’ve tried lots of papers and notebooks over the last few months, but I’ve finally settled – unsurprisingly – on 68gsm tomoe river paper. It’s thin, delicate and robust. It can take watercolour, inks, sprays, dyes, acrylics and all sorts of pens. You can smear stuff on it and rub stuff off it, yet it’s still beautiful to write on with a fountain pen. My only problem with tomoe river paper is that it is expensive and not readily available in the UK – you pretty much have to order it from Amazon and wait for it to arrive from Japan, or rummage around Etsy to find a supplier. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been really pleased with all the paper and notebooks I’ve acquired this way, but, because I write so much, I go through it all like the clappers, and it makes journaling a pricey pastime. This new notebook wasn’t cheap either – it cost £30, including shipping, from Taiwan, but it is going to be worth every penny, as it has 384 A5 pages in it, which makes it excellent value for money at 7.4p per page. (To put that into context, my current bullet journal is a Leuchtturm 1917 which cost me £20 and has 240 – that’s 8.3p per page.)
But I wasn’t just thinking about cost when I chose this notebook. When I write in smaller journals, such as travelers notebook inserts, I find myself getting bored about half-way through and rushing to fill the rest so that I can start a new insert – there’s nothing quite like that new notebook feeling! I won’t be doing that with this one though. There’s no way I’ll be able to rush through 384 pages! I’m also hoping this notebook’s larger size will not only help me slow down, but also help me decorate my pages more mindfully too. I want to savour every spread, to enjoy the process of painting and smooshing and spraying, and to think carefully about what tipins and ephemera to include – the notebook could easily become unwieldy otherwise.
I gave up journaling when I was severely depressed because it became detrimental to my state of mind – I was just ruminating on paper – but artful journaling has got me going again. The act of decorating my pages has given me so much joy and allowed me to unleash my creative, playful side which, in turn, has made journaling a positive experience once more. I’m ready for even more now though. I’m ready to care for this journal in a way I haven’t cared for my previous journals. I’m ready to slow down and for it to become a beautiful, sacred space for both thinking and praying on paper.