Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The tool box

Sadly, as I'm writing this, I have the backpack song from Dora the Explorer playing away in my head ... but I digress (sorry to anyone who knows this song and now has it stuck in their heads!)

Steven King refers to the writers 'toolbox' in his book 'On Writing'. For months I wrote in my morning pages about finding the 'right' satchel to carry everything around in, as I didn't have a proper bag. Thus I never had a novel with me to capitalise on those few spare moment when waiting in line. My note book was always in a different bag, so I lost countless ideas and snippets and my ecosilk shopping bags were always hung up at home meaning their plastic comrades were planning to mount an offensive from their position in their pantry (given their superior numbers!)

In the weeks leading up to our holiday in Tasmania and Victoria I started dreaming about getting this perfect satchel. There would be room for my novel and my notebook, my recently purchased SLR camera, my eco silk bags, a bottle of water, my lip balm ... you get the idea. My idea was to go to the Queen Victoria Markets in Melbourne and find 'this perfect bag.'

It's sad to say that I wrote quite a few lines in my morning pages about this perfect page ... no images of what the perfect bag looked like, just what the perfect bag would hold and what it would do for me as a writer!

Amazingly enough, we walked into the markets the day before we flew out of Victoria. Leanne, my Dad's wife took me straight to the bag seller - the Italian House of Leather, and I started to have a look around. Within a couple of minutes I'd found a leather backpack, did a spot of bargaining, and got it for just under the budgeted price. Voila! I was the proud owner of 'the perfect satchel.'

Since then - I haven't been caught out without my shopping bags and our collection of plastic shopping bags is slowly diminishing - I think we're safe from the revolution they were planning. I always have my novel with me (I make a habit of putting it in my bad before I leave the house) which meant on Saturday while I was waiting in the extra long BBQ line at a school fete, I could whip out my book and read three or four pages until it was my turn to collect our lunch. My lips are much happier (especially coming into winter) for the ever ready supply of rose scented lip balm from Perfect Potions ... and well I do have to admit that I lost my little purple book for all my writing ideas at the grocers last week, but it has been replaced and used. While I'm probably not as vigilant as I should be at writing down ideas (its been a life long habit to store them in my head), I am getting much better at it. And there is both room for my camera (meaning I've snapped a few shots I would never have got) and a water bottle. It's taken a little getting used to the extra weight on my back - but its well worth it.

The right equipment as a writer may be, as in my case, the right bag to carry the tools around in ... because the world of a writer does exist beyond the keyboard.

What is the one writers tool, other than your computer, that you simply could not do without?


Paul said...

I have a stock of spiral bound softback notebooks from "Black n' Red" (not sure if that is the company, or just the range). One of these comes with me just about everywhere. The A5 size fits into most bags comfortably.

My inspiration booklet is from the same range, in A7 size.

And a good pen. I have one that pulls open so goes from half-length to a full length pen by pullling on the barrel. Keeps them small, but portable.

They're the two items (other than my laptop!) that I can't do without.

Catherine said...

Sunshine and coffee + a good quality blank page spiral notebook and a pen that skims across said paper.

There are days where I really need the sunshine to power up. The combination of coffee and sunshine are different enough from my office and computer to stimulate a whole slew of different ideas.

I find that using good tools, is not only satisfying in a tactile sense, but also reinforces the value my own ideas and output. Gives my 'babies' a nice start...

I have an old boss to thank for the addiction to good quality spiral notebooks. On the way to a knowledge workers/creative incubator conference in Noosa he gave me one of his good quality blank paged spiral notebooks. His Mum would send them out from Ireland. There was something in the generosity of sharing something that was scarce and meaningful to him that increased the impact of the gift, and the rationale behind it.

Wild Iris said...

After reading catherine's comment I'm reminded of a journal that was given to me as a gift, that I just loved. I have one now, but it's gotten lost on my bookshelf, and I just haven't thought to take it down recently. I suppose it's time to put it back to use and jot down a few notes, though I think with an upcoming paycheck I may also budget to get a very nice journal like the one I received as a gift some time ago.

Jodi Cleghorn said...

Wild Iris, just letting you know that Cathering was stoked (we had lunch on Friday) that what you wrote inspired you to get out your lovely note books. I have a few here that always tell myself are 'too nice to write in' ... says a lot about what I think of my writing?