In last Saturday’s Guardian, Booker winner Hilary Mantel reveals that when words fail her, she seeks consolation in that part of her life that always works: ordering stationery.
Hilary says her stationery supplies arrive like clockwork, and she gets such pleasure out of buying stationery that she sometimes fantasises that “all my furniture has been destroyed in a cataclysm, and I have to start again with only the stationery catalogue”.
The ring binder is a must-have – Hilary tells aspiring authors that a hard-spined notebook, like a Moleskine, ‘is death to free thought’, because you can’t swap pages. With a ring binder she can shift writing around. Constructing a book is bit like a collage, she says – a bit of dialogue here, a scrap of narrative there. It would be dreadful if the whole structure of the book went wrong if you ‘let your stationery boss you about’.
I’ll admit that this kind of love for stationery might seem unusual, but I don’t believe it’s uncommon. Perhaps it’s because my ears are attuned to the subject, but I’ll often notice people talking about a notebook or pen they just bought. I’ve not yet heard anyone fantasising about losing their office furniture though. I suspect that’s a whole other sort of fantasy.
Read the full Guardian piece here