Continuing the stationery theme from my last post…

End of financial year always has me scrabbling around for receipts and invoices. In general, they’re properly filed away but occasionally not. That’s when I go looking, and in looking find all sorts of things I wasn’t seeking. Over the weekend, it was my scrapbooks.

I started keeping scrapbooks about five years ago. Before that, it was folders filled with – well, with scraps. I could have thrown everything out – but no, I couldn’t bear to.
Instead, I chose to buy a couple of cheap stapled scrapbooks, the ones little kids used to use (maybe they still do) at school. Mine had dinosaurs on the covers, but I soon covered them over with pictures from old calendars. I went through a lot of gluesticks.

They get very bulgy, those cheap books. A couple of years ago, I switched to spiral bound Visual Diaries. I’ve got a couple of those, A4 size, and then I decided they weren’t big enough (there was a lot of folding of newspaper articles) so my current book is A3.

This assortment looked very scrappy on the shelf. The thought occurred to me that if I had a standard format, there would eventually be a whole row of beautifully matching scrapbooks. And if I indexed them – imagine, both matching AND indexed – how splendid that would be –  a shelf to be proud of. And I could be diligent, instead of slack, and keep up with the clippings and the pasting and the indexing, and print out stuff off the Internet as well…

Quite the project, eh?
That’s it, though, isn’t it? Quite the project, and do I really need any more of those? Like I need a hole in the head.

Like lots of us (women more than men? I’m not sure) I’m drawn to the lure of the new start, the perfect system; quite simply, perfection. A  new calendar, notebook, journal, diary or scrapbook signals an opportunity to be more organised, more disciplined, more systematic – in a word, better.

And how will this betterness actually improve my life – my writing life, in particular? Not all that much, really. The matchy-matchy spines on a shelf would simply please my eye. Though, come to think of it, an index would be wonderful. A grand project (like sorting the photo albums) which I will get stuck into if ever I break a leg or have to recuperate from an operation. Index-less, there is however a lucky dip quality to the scrapbooks, a happy randomness. The first few pages contain cuttings on the following:

Jacobean portraiture
single mothers
‘late style’ in literature
losing one’s notebook
knitting blogs
creepy 19th century photographs of dead children and babies

It’s rather like reading an old copy of Susan magazine. If there was such a thing as Susan magazine. I still have folders of clippings – they’re just waiting for a session with the glue stick – however,  I’ve just bought a book on artist’s journals (pictured). It’s a fabulous trove of images and ideas and I think  – when I’ve got the time – I’ll try to make some art out of the clippings file. Another project…


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