April 27, 2014

The Story of a Sketchbook

"Every moment has infinite potential. Every new moment contains for you possibilities that you can't possibly imagine. Every day is a blank page that you could fill in with the most beautiful drawings." 

John C Parkin

I have been keeping a journal since I was eight years old. I remember the first entry I wrote in that journal: it was about a Thursday morning walk exploring the nearby hill and consuming my mother's delicious home-made halwa for breakfast. When I was thirteen years old, I discovered Anne Frank's diary, which had a seminal influence upon the journals I kept afterwards in my middle and high-school years; whenever I re-read her diary (and which moves me more and more with each subsequent reading), I also bemusedly recall how I imitated the manner in which she wrote and described situations in my own diary entries without of course being fully aware or empathetic at the time of the hugely grave and devastating circumstances in which she was writing. 

A few years later, when I was studying Sylvia Plath's poetry in school, I read her journals whose raw, visceral quality then seared my thoughts much more intensely than her poems. Influenced by these diarists and others, I regularly journaled and so accumulated quite a collection of diaries growing up and in present day: most have faithfully transcribed my innermost thoughts and feelings while I have on occasion also kept a dream diary (yes, during my early teens, I thought my dreams were fascinating enough to merit a diary especially dedicated to recording them!), one probing philosophical and existential issues (I wrote that during my middle-school Buddhist phase;) and my writers' diaries, more of notebooks, really. 

I used to read about writers keeping notebooks stuffed with short story/novel plots, inspiring quotes and passages, amusing anecdotes, and observations and writing mentors also recommended that I develop the habit of writing in one too. I kept a couple but they remained largely empty, whether out of laziness or my inability to commit my imaginings to paper, preferring to store everything inside my head and later weave them into my writings. I began to scrap-book instead, literally pinning images cut out from magazines as visual references/influences. For past several years, though, I have diligently kept a daily diary which is more of a planner/to-do list but I do jot down interesting encounters/experiences in it too - and of course, the camera roll on my phone functions as a visual diary. However, I do occasionally reflect that it would have been helpful (to me at least!) to chart my growth as a writer and note down how and what exactly was igniting my creative consciousness over the years: books/writers, art/artists, social, political, and cultural issues.

A few weeks ago, though, I was in conversation with an artist friend about art and she then showed me her sketch-books containing quotes, sketches, and designs - and it was fascinating to get a glimpse into her artistic mindscape. I had previously seen other artists' sketchbooks, both online and in person - and it seemed like such a rich way of capturing the growth and evolution of one's thoughts and creative journey. My friend then generously gifted me one such sketchbook and I pondered what to do with it. It was one thing to admire a sketchbook but another thing altogether to furnish it with your artistic outpourings.

What would they be?


She inscribed it with her distinctive art:

Inscribed Art

I have never been much of a sketcher and I kept on musing about how best to do justice to the book when an idea struck me; I could fill it up with both a combination of art and the colors/moods/influences currently shaping me. Apart from also adding favorite quotes or passages from books, I thought of sprinkling the pages with an impromptu colorful collage as well. 

Rainbow Dreams

Let's see what the future blank pages will yield...watch this space:)

Have you ever received a special gift which has particularly inspired you?


  1. what an idea priyanka. loved this. keep those pennants flying high :)

    1. Thank you so much, Suzy and happy that you loved it! Your encouragement and support as always means so much:):)

  2. Interesting post.

    I struggled with the inspiration/journal art type book and now don't even try. I have my sketchbooks to record things that catch my eye (all done from life) and my phone camera for othertimes.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts, Sue - it's interesting to hear that you too also struggled with the inspiration/journal art type book. I used to think that if I don't note arresting or unusual observations, I will forget them and lose a great source of potential stories. However, I observed that when I am writing something, a memory of an observation will pop up and weave itself into my writing. I guess the brain records and files away whatever leaves an indelible impression...even though you think you may have forgotten it!


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