When I travel, I buy notebooks. I take them home with me and use them for writing. I'm able to compose on my laptop, but I prefer longhand for that first encounter with the characters, where and how they live, what develops. Maybe it's a superstition, but to me the process of writing feels more organic. I especially like the scratchy-scrawly feel of a fountain pen. The notebooks too. They're special because they come from... over the rainbow. I have notebooks from Spain, Germany, Italy, Morocco, Tunisia, Mexico. The notebooks bought in Tunisia and Morocco are from France because the level of literacy is--or was--so low in those countries that mostly only people with European pretensions were shopping in the stores that sold stationary and paper. I hope that's no longer true.
Quite apart from the story developing as I write, I get pleasure from remembering the country where I bought the notebook. Often--as this morning--there's an extra surprise.
Because another thing I do when travelling is pick a flower here and there--often no more than a weed--and slip it between the pages of a notebook. I'm Canadian. You bet, I notice flowers when it's winter and back home I know there's snow heaped along the sidewalk. Lipstick hot hibiscus, tangerine bougainvillea!
Since I buy four or five notebooks in a country, and only get a new story idea maybe once or twice a year, time can pass before I turn the page where I find a pressed flower. This morning I flipped a page of a notebook bought in Mexico.