I'm never without a little black book.

over 10 years worth of words and ideas are stored within these books

over 10 years worth of words and ideas are stored within these books

I use these notebooks for sketching, scribbling design ideas, pattern writing, adjustments to patterns, plans for exhibition spaces, to-do lists, book budgeting, life budgeting, travel planning, daily scheduling, notes to self, colour planning and more. They hold everything that goes through my head, and without my current book I'd be lost.

There are books with plain paper, but mostly I used the lined ones. They're all the same size (A6), and all black hardback. I've a small store of them in the studio, as I buy them when I see them and especially when they're on offer as they're becoming harder to find. I write in black ink only, and draw in black ink too - I've never been one for sketching in pencil, it allows for too much editing; pen is permanent, it doesn't allow me to erase ideas or self edit. Besides, having a pen and pencil in my pocket isn't very efficient, why carry two things when one tool will do the job?

I'm not one for sketching full stop really - I prefer to make rough sketches and add the extra details in notes. I don't fully sketch each idea and flesh things out - once I know which path I'm on, I work on the needles, and the notes become more critical. I've always worked this way, sketches are limited by their 2D nature and I'm a 3D person, both in practice and in thinking. Besides, fully fleshing out ideas on paper in visual form is a luxury my time schedule doesn't allow for. I have to swatch for each design, and so the Hat itself becomes my swatch. It's quicker for me to do this, to work from notes and develop those notes as I go, rather than plan everything out on paper from an initial, separate swatch. My method is more truthful and more efficient for me, too. I can do this because I only work with Hats, and none of it happens by accident.

These books have been even more critical of late, in other ways. Having relapsed on the depression front and having found myself unable to fully express myself with words, I've taken to writing down the fragments that pass through my head, in the hope that someday I can do something useful with them. Very limited memory function is another side effect of poor mental health, and the notes work on several fronts. Over time I can see the themes developing and the thought process slowly coming together; it helps to feel less fractured. These notebooks become a filing cabinet of words and streams on consciousness, all tangled and distorted, and although the written word doesn't allow for editing and sorting, by writing it all down it allows those words to take on an importance when they would otherwise be lost in the fog. The words won't go unrecorded.

Sometimes these notebooks serve as a frustration. I can see how many great ideas I've had over the years, and how many of them have gone undeveloped due to my breakdowns. I can see the fragments of my functional brain, and see how scattered they are, and see how far I have to go before they become something. They add to those feelings of being inadequate, of being left behind, of failing and of letting down.

On the other hand, they offer hope. As well as being able to see how far I have to go, they're another piece in the picture of how far I've come. I can see that a lot of those ideas have become something, despite the fog. These records are slowly forming into something cohesive, and without them I don't think I'd be able to keep going through so many relapses and come out the other side. It takes time to build on these fragments, and although the passing of time whilst in the fog is one of the most exasperating aspects of depression, I can appreciate the building and rebuilding of knowledge that the pages evidence. I can use the notebooks as word and idea banks; record them after a moment of insight, safe in the knowledge that although they will be forgotten in the morning, that part of me is still there, waiting for when I am ready.

AuthorWoolly Wormhead