I had five expensive Moleskine notebooks before I realized I had a problem. My addiction began years ago in the fiery bustle of a San Francisco kitchen.
Since the summer of my junior year, I spent high school Fridays and weekends working without pay, learning as a commis at Spruce, a Michelin-starred restaurant in pursuit of my dream: becoming a chef and one day owning a restaurant like it.
A gregarious high school kid with a talent for charming, by my senior year I had infiltrated the restaurant group that owned Spruce. Bacchus Management group was run by a man called Tim Stannard, the smartest guy in the room and a restauranteur of remarkable caliber. He commanded a band of partners responsible for the oversight and day-to-day operations of the group’s eight restaurants and artisan coffee company. The partners embodied what I, at seventeen, wanted in life. They were Michelin-starred chefs, champions of table service and scarred veterans of the restaurant industry. They were either consummate businessmen or had remarkable talent for projecting competence.
The dapper partners shared tastes in cigars, fine wine, impeccable food, and the BMW 3-series. While each married to their iphones, which incessantly sang for attention, no partner was to be found without a jet-black Moleskine notebook. Within the stylish notebooks were surely scratched great industrial truths, pieces of culinary greatness, vinous wisdom and the phone numbers of many stunning women and I needed to have one.
Though I was captivated by the notebooks and their contents at seventeen, it was not until years later that I bought my first. I had five before I realized I had a problem. My Moleskines are devoted to creative pursuits. While I edit electronically, my first drafts of stories, blog posts, and letters are all scrawled in the notebooks, whose soft paper and perfectly-spaced lines make a luxury of longhand.
The backlit screen of a computer gnawing constantly at my eyes makes my head hurt, turns my brain to soup, and makes me sleepy. I can write in a Moleskine for hours without the need for a break. Paper is soft on the eyes.
Writing by hand is relaxing, its permanence refreshing. I love the tactile sensation of my wrist and hand gliding across cool, soft paper. I write with a pen so I can not erase or edit until I rewrite. When I write on a computer, I find myself painstakingly perfecting language–deleting and rewriting portions of a piece instead of working towards a story’s completion. When I write by hand, I pay little heed to the refinement of ideas or diction until a draft is finished, returning later to edit my prose.
The elastic bands and closures on my Moleskines are a simple and wonderful feature. Not only do they prevent my notebooks from flying open in the wind, they also create a psychological barrier for prying eyes. My Moleskines have elastic bands and bathrooms have locks for the same reason. Hemingway said the first draft of everything is shit, a sentiment to which I can attest. Were someone to read my notebooks, I would be mortified. They are pleasant facades for products unfinished, dressing rooms for naked work.