Thursday, August 29, 2013

Moleskine... The Book of Champions

A talented writer friend recently posted on her Facebook page about the challenges of pronouncing Moleskine, the fancy schmancy pocket notebook for professional writers. She went on to say she thought it was pronounced mole skin and dabbled with the theory that it could have been made from moles (something I myself had wondered, so it's not that ridiculous a thought). I too used to call it Mole skin... in fact, I probably will continue to call it that thanks to a rebellious gene that I share with my father, who for years insisted on mispronouncing famous actor's names. My father would kvell about his favorite show "Steinfeld" all the time (sometimes he called it "The Steinfeld," if he was feeling proper). When I'd correct him, he told me he didn't care, he liked "Steinfeld" and so it was. Thus, mole skin sounds cool to me.

So cool that I drool over the Moleskine display at Staples whenever I pass, thinking I really should break down and get one. I'm a professional writer, after all... I need one. I deliberate over sizes, small enough to fit in my purse, or big enough to write a whole book while waiting in LA traffic? Tiffany blue for that Audrey Hepburn/Truman Capote feel, or basic black for simple, gritty, Cormac McCarthy-like prose? Sometimes I've even gone so far as to put one of the precious Moleskines into my shopping cart, only to replace it back on the shelf when I realize that part of being a professional writer is acknowledging that $12 or $16 bucks is way too much to be spending on an itty bitty blank notebook, when a .99 cent notepad will work just the same. Truth be told, I can barely read my own handwriting; thus if I were to pen my next novel by hand a la Hemingway, I probably would never be able to read what I wrote, so it's a pointless item for me anyway.

However, it is a writer's staple. A tool of the trade. The status of which says "You have a Moleskine notebook, therefore, you are a real writer."

Much like the way real writers own Mont Blanc pens. I was once given an authentic Mont Blanc pen many years ago. I treasured the pen because it was the most expensive writing instrument I had ever owned and a luxury I would never have spent on myself, especially since it wasn't something I could wear to a cocktail party or jazzy soiree. Still, it was cool.  This is a pen of a successful author. A pen to sign one's name at book signings with. I loved that pen. No one was allowed to use that pen and truth be told, I never used it either. It didn't write as good as my two dollar, disposable Uniball Visions (which I love... I can almost read my writing with a Uniball fine vision pen... almost). And so, the Mont Blanc, or Monty as I sometimes called it in private, was my pen to save for special occasions. My famous author pen for when I made it big. Monty was on standby, that was until the day my beloved toy poodle somehow got her grubby paws on him and took a big bite out of his plastic exterior. I don't know to this day how the dog got Monty, or what happened to that piece of him that may very well have found its way to my little dog's intestines (such are the tough stuff NYC toy poodles are made of). I held on to the remnants of Monty, the glossy black plastic shrapnell holding a smooth flowing, non-clog ink barrel. It would have worked just fine I'm sure. But my symbol of victory was marred. Flawed. I stuck it in a drawer and have never seen it since. It probably got tossed in the garbage for all I know, which is just as well.

I pass the Mont Blanc display and every now and then think of replacing it. But I don't. Buying it for myself now feels much like buying myself a dozen roses. It's cheating. Besides, I don't need a special pen to say I'm gonna make it. Or a Moleskine book, no matter how you pronounce it.

I use my laptop to take notes, or I write on scraps of anything I find in my bag at the time if I'm on the go... the yellowed backs of receipt stubs, envelope scraps... sometimes the notes make their way into my stories. Other times they get swept up into the great compost of thought. And when you see me at a book signing, I'll be using my $2 Uniball Vision. You might even be able to read the signature.


PS  Here's a cool video on how others pronounce Moleskine. I still don't really know how to say it.