Based on all the blogs, tweets and facebook statuses I’ve been reading lately, it seems that writers and artists are really struggling right now.  Lack of confidence, frustration, impatience, “What’s it all about, Alfie?” It is certainly difficult times out there, not to mention in our heads, and I am definitely not immune.  So this week I spent a lot of time reading, thinking, planning, organizing — ie procrastinating.  And I found a most wonderful new way to do it.  Look at what I bought:

It’s a label maker!  Yes, you type in the label, press the button, and a stream of letters come out on sticky-backed paper.  And why did I buy this?  No, not to convince myself that I exist by labelling everything around me. Rather, I bought it to help bring to life a fantasy I had way back when I started to take my writing “seriously.”  Back then — fifteen years ago, I find — I had a vision of a book shelf or two filled with Black n’ Red Notebooks.  For those of you who don’t know them, they are what we Brits call A4 sized, hard cover notebooks with black covers and red spines. Since all my writing starts out long-hand (except the blogs), I have a notebook for each project.  The vision was to have a row of them that grows and grows over the years, a visual record of what I have accomplished.  Well, this week I realized that I have enough now that I don’t know what’s in which book.  I actually did have to label them.  Here’s the result:

The beginning of a dream come true.  That’s eleven notebooks holding nearly 100 poems, two plays, three novels, exercises, articles, reviews of books and theatre productions, ideas for future projects. I also like to think dear old Willie S is casting his glance back over them with approval. (And yes, there’s a hardcover and a paperback of Tangled Roots in there, too. Plus a copy of Dreams of May. And some books used for research about physics and Cambodia. And DJ Kirkby’s From Zaftig to Aspie, and Jane Smiley’s 13 Ways of Looking at a Novel.)  I can’t tell you how happy it made me to do this.  Silly?  Well, after all the doom and gloom lately, you take what you can get.  And now I know that tomorrow I will go to my local stationers and buy one more Black n’ Red, and if I buy the notebook then I have to write the novel.  I’ll then make a label with the Roman Numeral of the number of the notebook, and above that, an empty space for the title when it announces itself. Or maybe I’ll make a label saying “Whatever Comes Next.”  Hmm….