When I was 8 years old, I used to take my pocket money to this cutesy craft shop in town that sold erasers in the shape of adorable Japanese cartoon animals, metallic unicorn stickers dispensed via a roll, and plastic wallets of miniature coloured pencils. Man, I loved that shop.
While some kids worshipped at the altar of Sugar (a religion I’ve dabbled in over the years), my true calling was always Stationery.
Along with a couple of friends I created a secret society dedicated to our shared sacred reverence for mechanical pencils. The extension mechanism! The extra-slim lead refills! The tiny storage plastic box for storing the refills! A secret club so bizarre that a neighbour studying child psychology wrote a paper about us.
Nowadays I often write directly onto a Word document, or into WordPress. But if I’m feeling stressed, I turn to pen and paper.
I buy notebooks for friends’ birthdays and keep different types for different purposes myself. There’s the cheap A4 ringbound one beside my bed (for morning pages), the tiny, pretty one (approx A6) that fits into the back pocket of my handbag and goes with me everywhere. The stack of notebooks beside the computer, available to self-medicate in moments of panic is the stationery equivalent of Rescue Remedy.
Ever since I read The Organized Mind by Daniel Levitin I’ve felt justified in my developing love of index cards as a scientifically proven method of organising brain-detritus and enabling creative optimisation).
I love pens that are fun to write with, preferably in a range of colours (because different coloured pens work well with index cards). I can hardly describe the happiness I’ve been feeling recently when the Inkjoy advert comes on the telly. All those lovely pens gliding effortlessly over the page in all those gorgeous colours, doodling their adorable Spirograph-inspired patterns creates an instant wash of wellbeing.
A love of stationery is a love of order, of things of the same height sitting together, of pens arrange in colour order. Life is tough, as the current craze for adult colouring books testifies. No wonder the stressed modern woman fetishizes stationery.
Technology is fantastic, but creates at least as much work as it takes away. When people get into stationery they’re looking back, nostalgically, to simpler times.
In an increasingly perplexing world, stationery is a way to keep everything straight. Just look at this for a second – there, now don’t you feel calmer already?