A Non-Hoarder’s Take on Field Notes (and buying notebooks in general)

(Michelle Guo is a self-diagnosed pen addict ever since she charmed the Faber Castell stand at a stationery fair with her metallic ocean-scape at 9 years old. She ended up leaving with all their paraphernalia and now probably needs Hermione Granger's Undetectable Extension Charm for her pencil case. You can find Michelle on Twitter @misheyxxxooo.)

As a pen addict, I find it inevitable for me to exhibit some hoarding tendencies. Especially when it comes to something like stationery; it is cheap (mostly), useful (usually) and a lot of the times, nice to have (very). For me, it is easier to justify having a variety of pens than it is, say, to have a collection of paintings. As a university student, the cost of purchasing, maintaining and exhibiting paintings is just unjustifiably too much.

But who knows, maybe in a few years-time, I will become a self-proclaimed art addict.

But back to Field Notes.

It is from the Pen Addict podcast that I first became aware of the phenomenon of collecting Field Notes, and I admit, I see how easy it is to be sucked into it. But as the title suggests, I am not a hoarder of them.

Why? Well a bunch of reasons.

Firstly, my being in Melbourne, Australia does not make Field Notes the most accessible product. The closest Field Notes retailer that I have found is an online store located in Sydney, and yet it still takes a week or so for the notebooks to reach my front door. This means that it has to be something that I would literally need to be willing to pay double the price for.

Which then leads to the question of what can justify paying such a price for something as simple or mundane as a notebook. And this can extend to more than just my interest in Field Notes; how can I justify buying a $30 Moleskine when there are definitely more affordable alternatives out there? And then if I do buy it, will I even use it?

The way I have come to justify it is like this; when I buy a pricey notebook, I am not just paying for the product, I am also investing in what that product can hold. What I like about notebooks is that they can have a dual utility, once I have finished using it as a notebook and filling in all the pages, it can then function as a book that has documented a period of my life, depending on what I have filled it with. So for me, there is a degree of correlation between the quality and visual appearance of the notebook, and the contents within it.

The plainer, cheaper notebooks I would just use for mundane purposes, whereas the more expensive or thoughtfully designed ones I tend to save for a more significant purpose. So rather than filling my Field Notes that I have paid $30 USD for with miscellaneous notes, I will use them to document things that are more personal or specific to a various interest of mine. That way, I will use the notebook with the intention of keeping it and looking back to it in years to come. I am a big fan of compartmentalising and categorising things effectively and efficiently in my life, and doing this is very reflective of that. This also means, that even with the progression of technology and the wonderful note-taking apps that now exist on smartphones, I will still buy nice notebooks and, more importantly, use them.

This also helps me curb the initial fear of breaking in a new notebook and putting ink to paper, as I have given them a purpose. As a student, it was very common for me to have to start empty exercise books at the start of every new school year, with a new book for each subject. Now, instead of filling in books with math or spelling, I am filling them with favourite quotes and bucket lists; things that I want to archive and reminisce on in years to come.

Perhaps I am actually just a hoarder of knowledge, and the pens and notebooks that I buy are my way of exhibiting the knowledge I collect.

But then again, that seems like something that is worth hoarding.

Posted on April 7, 2016 and filed under Notebooks, Field Notes.