It was my birthday at the start of this month and my husband actually excelled himself with his gifts. My main gift was to go to the Romantic Novelists’ Association (RNA) Conference in July so he just needed to get me a few small bits and bobs from him and our 7-year-old daughter. He apologised after I’d opened them for them being “not very exciting.” My instant response was, “You may find these boring but, to a writer, these are incredible gifts.” You see, he’d actually put some thought into it and searched online for gift ideas for writers and, as a result, had bought me:
- A biro with the engraving, “write bestseller with” on it (I know that’s not grammatically correct but “with which to write my bestseller” would have taken up far too much space 😉 ) And it’s my favourite colour; purple
- A book called “642 Things to Write About” by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto which has, surprise, surprise, 642 ideas to get your creative juices flowing. It’s brilliant. Any one of those ideas could prompt a character, a scene or even a whole novel!
- A “Books to Check Out” journal where you note down books you want to read, books you’ve enjoyed and books you’ve borrowed or loaned to others. Fabulous
On top of that, he got me a book, CD and DVD. What a brilliant set of wonderfully imaginative presents! He may have thought them boring but, to me, these are the things that writers love!
Writers themselves are brilliant buyers of gifts. My wonderful Write Romantic pal, Jo, sent me a gift that included a notebook, pen and a gorgeous paperweight with the word “Dream” in it. How very appropriate.
I have another writing friend, Sarah, who isn’t in The Write Romantics as she writes children’s books. We met about four years ago. We don’t see each other very often but we have always bought each other a birthday gift and I think we deliberately keep this up because we know that we will buy each other a fabulous writing gift; the sort that we’d like to buy ourselves but can’t justify spending the money on. Over the years, she’s bought me some wonderful items. This year it was a set of Emma Bridgewater stationery, which I love, but one of my favourite gifts ever was this gorgeous planner. I can’t wait to get my own writing space so I can put this on my wall and use it properly.
I’ve always loved stationery, even before I had any thoughts about being a writer. I have three weaknesses: coloured pens, notebooks and pencil cases. I’ve got about eight pencil cases which is a bit ridiculous for someone who doesn’t go to school! I daren’t count how many notepads. I’ve asked hubby to take some pictures of them but, sshhh, don’t tell him that this doesn’t reflect the full collection! I buy them mainly when they’re on offer or because they’re simply too beautiful to resist. I like to use a pad to out each novel my they have to be right for novel. When I came up with the idea for book 1, I soon realised it was going to be a trilogy and I scoured bookshops, stationers and supermarkets trying to find three notepads that were part of a set yet different. I finally got a set that had different colour flowers on them and then I discovered some Paperblanks in WH Smith. One of them would set me back nearly double what the original three had cost but they were just so gorgeous. If you’re a Paperblank fan, you’ll know exactly what I mean. They are hardback, have quality paper, a little envelope in the back and a flap that closes over onto the front with a really satisfying thunk. How many times must I have visited WH Smith over a two-three week period telling myself I couldn’t afford them. I must have lost the battle because here they are and I’ve used one per book and not regretted the investment at all.
Book 4, however, has moved completely away from the Paperblanks as, although it’s set in the same place, it has a new cast of characters and I wanted to start completely afresh. Boots were selling these over Christmas. Aren’t they gorgeous? In fact, cute or what? as they say on the front! The pages inside are pale pink with the owl motif on one side of the page and the bird on the other.
Of course, something so beautiful needs a beautiful set of pens. Hello Stabilos. Look at all of those beautiful colours *Pauses to gaze at them dreamily* I’ve got four main characters in book 4 so I’ve been using a different colour to map out each one. Little things like that excite me. Is that sad? The Stabilo Boys also serve as great editing pens as I always have to print off a paper copy when I’m on my final edit as it’s the only way I can spot all the typos and consistency flaws. I’ve tried it on the screen and I can’t spot them although I do try to save the environment a bit by printing four pages per A4 page (I have good eyesight!)
So, I have my notepad and my lovely pens. There’s just one more tool I need to help me with my planning process; my planner. I used a diary when planning book 1 but then spotted one of these in the RSPB Reserve Shop at Bempton Cliffs of all places and I knew it was the tool I needed. As I plan out each chapter in my notebook, I write bullet points of the key events on the weekly planner and this helps me keep a track of days, dates and seasons.
I can’t finish this blog without a nod to some of my other favourite items of stationery so here’s a final selection of beautiful and practical things.
What about you? Are you stationery-mad? Please let me know what your must-have items are, the greatest stationery indulgence you’ve had or that one item you would love to have but simply can’t justify buying … yet!
Thanks for reading. And thanks to hubby for the wonderful photos, even if he did get stressed cos I gave him virtually no notice and he kept complaining the light wasn’t right so they weren’t his best work. They’re brilliant and better than anything I’d manage!