I Bought A Blank Notebook Every Week For 5 Years; Here Is Not My Story

Alex Stokes
Jun 24, 2020 · 4 min read
Photo by Mike Tinnion on Unsplash

“To Be Or Not To Be?” That was the question I asked myself. I decided to go with maybe.

Since I was a little kid, or 23 years old, probably somewhere in between, I wanted to think about becoming a professional writer. It seemed like a fascinating life and extremely boring. I started to read articles online on how to get started, but I’m really not a fan of reading stuff. So, 5 years ago, I decided to just buy a blank notebook and start this unbearable new career without any help.

The first notebook I bought was filled with 200 pages and bound in leather. A nice start to becoming a writer, I assumed. I bought that notebook on a Monday. By Thursday, I had bought three pens; two of them were black ink.

By the following Monday, I had written out my grocery list for the week and on it, I included another notebook. Although the first notebook was still empty, I felt it better to be prepared for this long journey. The second notebook was not as flashy, just a composition book from the Dollar Tree. But it was mine.

One year and 52 notebooks later, I needed to buy a bookcase. At that point, although I hadn’t actually written a single word yet, I was starting to get that “feeling.” I must admit that the first time I told another person I was a “professional writer” was euphoric. Sure, it was a drunk guy named Steve sitting at the bar at a nearby Texas Roadhouse, but it still counted. He asked what I had written. I smiled, paid my tab, and abruptly left.

My second year as a professional writer was a complete blur. The first year, I was buying my notebooks every Monday. Unfortunately, I became sloppy, and to be completely honest, not good at staying on task. Some weeks I would wait until Thursday before buying my notebook. I knew, deep down, that being a writer meant being meticulous, focused, and prompt. I just collapsed under the pressure, I guess.

Things really started to turn around in year three. I was back to buying my notebooks on Mondays. Not the cheap composition notebooks, either. I went back to leather. One time, around my birthday, I decided to get one of those expensive leather notebooks with a world map on the cover and a clasp from Barnes And Noble. I had already decided that this would be the notebook I would use in the story I would someday portray to strangers about the memoirs I was going to think about writing.

Year four? Career was in shambles. I had honestly thought, going in, that this would be the year that I wrote that first word. Life, however, would get in the way. Not only did I not write that first word, but I also fell behind on my weekly notebook purchases. I was having financial difficulties since I had zero royalties rolling in from not writing anything. I had heard people say that being a writer was tough financially, but I never imagined, after four years, that I would be completely broke. I ended up having to wait until the school season kicked off and bought all 52 notebooks for 39 cents each at Wal-Mart.

Year five. I will never forget the exact moment it all finally came together. It was a rainy Tuesday afternoon. I lit some incense, opened a $9 bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, and cleared off the desk. I grabbed a can of lemon Pledge and dusted off that first leather notebook from five years prior. Then, with some tiny scissors, I opened that three-pack of pens I had bought; two of them were black ink. Finally, with my cellphone, I took a picture of the entire setup. “This,” I told myself, “will be the ambiance I need someday when I write that first word.” An hour later, I had finished the wine and the incense had burned out. I put the blank notebook back on the shelf and for once I felt like I had some direction on how to get started someday down the road.

You must think, by reading this, that I finally got my career as a professional writer on track. Let me tell you, though, that I still have 275 blank notebooks. I just typed this on my laptop.

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Alex Stokes

Written by

I am a Stand Up Comedian, Author, and teach the first Stand Up Comedy Class of its kind in the country at the University Of Tennessee. I have published 6 books.

Slackjaw

Slackjaw

Medium humor. Large laughs.

Alex Stokes

Written by

I am a Stand Up Comedian, Author, and teach the first Stand Up Comedy Class of its kind in the country at the University Of Tennessee. I have published 6 books.

Slackjaw

Slackjaw

Medium humor. Large laughs.

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