Category Archives: Writing

Crumbs, Broken Bits, and Breaks

This is not actually day 1313 as there were a couple days of technical difficulties, but it is post 1313 and this is a good enough post to announce a short hiatus to this bit of blather. I had intended to start this hiatus at the end of September, but this number is too cool to not use.

I started this bit of blather to jump start a daily writing habit, partly inspired by a blog done by a friend of mine who was at least smart enough to stop at day 365.

At first there was a burst of energy and the posts were a lot longer and a lot less coherent and a lot more interesting. Then, over time the posts became shorter and more coherent but a lot less interesting, especially to me.

I’ve tried to remain reasonably funny and entertaining, but recently, all this has begun to feel like work. Even worse, the blog has become an actual blog which is something I’d hoped to avoid. I’ve not yet been reduced to talking about, and taking pictures of my meals (I’m opening the potato chips. I’ve take out a particularly large one. It has perfect shape. It was delicious … there is nothing left but crumbs and broken bits). However, crumbs and broken bits is what this has been feeling like lately.

It’s a lot of work to do for free and I’ve decided to take a short break. My goal is to start back up, in some form or another at the beginning of November. In the interim, I’d like to focus the daily writing habit on other projects.

Those who stuck with me this far, thanks for your eyeballs and your patience. Hope to see you again in a a few weeks with more blather and, I hope, more energy.

 

Rethinking the Blather

This is post 1311 of this bit of blather and it has me thinking that after three and a half years of blather, it’s time to to start rethinking things.

Although I like the daily writing habit, lately it’s begun to feel like more of a chore than it should be. Out of laziness I’ve ended up writing about work and  what I’ve done for the day which is exactly what I’d been hoping to avoid when I started this bit of blather.

Because of that, I suspect a short hiatus is in the works, although I’m also considering a different kind of writing project.

I’ll keep putting out some blather until the end of this month, and then I’ll make some decisions about how to proceed.

Four By Too Many

For 20 months or so I’ve been carrying the Quad Field Notes Leather Notebook Cover from Old Church Works and the entire time I’ve had it filled with four notebooks with different uses.

As much as I like it, it’s probably time for a change.

The cover has held up well, despite a couple issues, but that’s fodder for a different post.

The notebooks are a food journal, a random notes book, a 10 ideas book, and a book “Bible” for one of the projects I’ve been working on. (Sort of.)

The main issue is that, over time, I’ve not only stopped using three of the four notebooks, but I also feel I’m not getting a good sense of how durable the different notebooks are in the pocket when they are protected by a thick leather cover.

Because of that, I’ve decided that it’s time to shed at least two notebooks (the 10 ideas and the book Bible), and start pocket carrying the food journal and the random notes notebook.

I’ve done something like this in the past and found I got more use out of the random notes notebook than I am now.

However I use them, it will definitely lighten my everyday carry. But that’s also part of a future review.

 

Getting Back in the Groove

I was less of a zombie today and even managed to force myself to force myself.

I took our youngest out for lunch and to buy birthday presents for She Who Must Be Obeyed. We were enjoying what appears to be the last of the unseasonably cool days we’ve been having. However, even though there was a light rain, the breeze was warm, not cool as it has been for a couple weeks.

I also sent a friend a copy of a partial typescript to get the benefit of his skills as an alpha reader. I did this not only because I respect his opinion (and believe he will actually give it) but also to force myself to finish typing up the rest of the text. (I wrote it all by hand at first; damn my handwriting.)

Of course, I fear that by the time I get it all typed in, my alpha reader will tell me not to bother sending him the rest.

 

The Things We Avoid

I have a project I swear I’m going to get to.

I’ve thought about it quite a bit.

I’ve done  a lot of research on it.

I’ve even scribbled some notes about it.

Then I sit down to do it and just stare at the page. (Note: I still do a lot of stuff long hand because, well, I’ll get to that.)

If I don’t stare at the page, I stare at the front of the notebook. Then I open it, grab a pen, write something, usually related, sometimes not, then look for something else to do.

What I like about these daily bits of blather on this blog is that, with a few exceptions, they are safe. At 1250 posts (this is 1251) they are safe. Some are honest, some are interesting, some are meaningless enough that they don’t even qualify as blather. They are Mere Filler, or something like that.

I have a lot of material and have been assembling it into something resembling a book, but that’s where I start staring at notebooks and blank pages.

In my case, that deep fear we all feel about certain things we know we could do manifests as laziness and distraction. I’ll get to it later, after I play a bunch of games and then research a topic that might be useful in the future. For something.

All writers, actually, everyone who attempts a new hobby or project reaches that point where things stop being easy. Where beginner’s luck gives way to a novice’s failures.

There are several topics that I listed when I began this bit of blather that I’ve been avoiding. I thought I was just putting off interesting stuff, but I realize I’ve been avoiding them.

I think I’l put them in the book. But first there are other things I think I might do.

Revisionist Curses

Progress is slow.

Thus far I’ve kept up my daily goal of typing my old manuscript for at least one hour every day. However, after an hour, I often find I’ve only added a page or two to the typescript. The problem is that not only do I have to translate my handwriting, I’m also revising on the fly.

In a couple cases I’ve revised a section only to find a second, better version of it already in the manuscript. This happens because as the original brain dump happens I just let words flow and that means I’ll write something and then write it again. Usually when I do the initial read through I find such sections and cross out the bad ones or cut and paste the better ones.

However, today I hit two sections that I’d apparently skipped over during the initial read through. After uttering some bad words and generic curses, I had to un-revise and then re-revise the sections and although I’m reasonably pleased with them, I still have a lot of things to type.

I’ve thought about hiring someone to transcribe everything for me, the trouble is that after a few hours with my handwriting they’d be cursing me as they slowly drifted into madness.

I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Once More, the Breach

Today, I worked on a manuscript I’ve been avoiding for a while. I like to put a manuscript aside for a while before I attempt to edit it, but even for me the time I’ve waited on this one has been ridiculous.  I’ve been avoiding it for two reasons: 1) The subject matter borders on personal and I want to handle it correctly; and 2) I’m lazy.

Actually, the personal stuff isn’t that bad because it’s been morphed and modified enough that the parts based on actual events are now fiction. It’s the lazy part that’s the problem.

Because I hand wrote the original (it is literally a manuscript) I now have hundreds of pages to type into the computer and that means I have to translate my own handwriting. As I’ve written before, this is a horrifying thing.

However, as I did the transcribing today, I found myself getting back into the spirit of the book. I remembered what my goal was and I had ideas for organizing the mess.

I also had to do some research on Scotland to remind me what in the story was true and what I was making up. At one point, I was confusing myself.

One of my summer goals is to spend at least one hour a day transcribing the manuscript so that I can eventually print it and do a proper edit.

I suspect the boost I got from today’s restart will keep my energy and focus on the manuscript for a while. But eventually my own handwriting will annoy me and I’ll put it away for a while longer.

Overwhelmingly Overwhelming

Today, in fits and starts, I worked on my latest project. Fits is the most accurate description.

Because I tend to be a discovery writer, which means I just start writing and let things happen as they happen (which frequently explains this bit of blather), I tend to resist the phase where things have to be organized. In fact, this phase tends to be an extended phase of denial and distraction that keeps me from finishing.

Today was no exception. I spent a lot of time watching random nonsense whilst occasionally doing some work.

Eventually, I did some work, but I tend to find this part of the revision process to be fairly intimidating. There are darlings that need to be killed and decisions that have to be made. I have to resist the urge to line edit because if I don’t I’ll never actually finish the project. Instead, I’ll have highly well proofed opening chapters but nothing after that.

Today I managed to make a rough outline, defined a character better and changed a few nicknames.

The latter doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it helps me defined the characters which helps me with the next phase. Whatever that turns out to be. A

 

Parts of Three Equals None

Today I’m going meta as I managed not to finish three different projects for this daily bit of blather. In my defense, I did actual work, which is not something I usually do on days off.

My plan was to go out and do stuff but eventually I realized that all was planning on doing was going to lunch. Instead I stayed home and worked on a couple worksheets for the school where I work (and for future house arrest days).

I also took some photos for this bit of blather but only wrote part of the actual text. Granted, I wrote part of the text for three different posts but didn’t actually finish either of them.

This is the curse of enjoying your days off a little too much. Eventually I finish all the posts. Eventually.

Monokaki Pocket Notebook–End of Book Review

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: There’s this really cool notebook that claims that it’s the notebook of Nobel Prize winning writers.

Although the way a  famous notebook brand uses this story is somewhat dodgy (and is most accurately described as “famous people used a notebook that looked kind of like this”) in the case of Masuya’s Motokaki notebook, there appears to be some truth to the story. The notebook was, as near as I can find, made in 1939 for Fumio Niwa, author of The Buddha Tree. Since then it’s been used by other Japanese writers.

Note: Please keep in mind that none of this impresses me. In fact, when I learned about the story behind the more famous notebook, I felt kind of sad, as if I’d been duped, even though I hadn’t read the story beforehand.

Two Monokaki Pocket Notebooks. The one being reviewed is the one on the right.

The Monokaki Pocket Notebook I used was terrific. It is one of the most fountain pen friendly notebooks I’ve ever used.

The notebook contains 128 pages of Masuya’s cream colored, acid free Kotobukiya paper. I used the version with a light grid, but it also comes in blank and ruled versions. The off-white cover is made of thick Japanese washi paper with a woodblock print inspired pattern designed by Ryo Takagi. The end pages are black (charcoal gray?) paper and help add some support to the notebook when you’re holding it in your hand as you write.

Detail of the fountain pen and ink bottle on the cover. Also, detail of the wear on the spine.

At 140 mm (5.5 inches) tall and 85 mm (3.35 inches) wide the notebook is roughly the same length as a Field Notes Notebook, but slightly narrower. Because it’s made of eight sewn signatures, it lays flat when it’s open, which is not true of many smaller perfect bound notebooks.

Detail of the end pages and the notebook’s construction. If you zoom you can see the individual signatures.

Although the paper is thin, it handles fountain pens extremely well. There is a lot of show through, which might bother some people, but very little bleed. In fact, the only ink that bled consistently was Wancher Matcha, which is always a heartbreaker. It breaks hearts.

Wancher Matcha bleeding through the page. It is a heartbreaker. It breaks hearts. Also, nice detail of the grid pattern.

The only real complaint I have with the notebook is more a matter of taste than a problem. As a rule, I don’t like solid grids on notebook pages as they break up the lines. Yeah, you have to look fairly close, sometimes, to notice, but it bothers me. Ruled pages I don’t mind as much because I don’t have to cross the lines, but I prefer blank pages in small notebooks. (Actually, in all notebooks, but more on that in a future post.)

The Monokaki Pocket Notebook has entered my top five pocket notebooks. I have a blank version yet to use, and I may bump it forward in my notebook queue.