Notebook Talk

Like many writers and non-writers alike, I have an office supply problem. I enjoy looking at office supplies and more importantly, I enjoy purchasing them. And as my wife will attest, I have expensive tastes. There are some people who’ll wait for the return to school sales and purchase composition notebooks for less than $1 and pencils or pens for even less.

Not me.

I like high-performance mechanical pencils, absurdly expensive Moleskine notebooks and name brand Oxford neon index cards. I’m picky about what I use because I expect durability and reliability. If I’m using them daily, why shouldn’t I? I can’t be the only one, RIGHT?

XL Moleskine

My experience with Moleskine notebooks is somewhat varied. Over time, I’ve developed a preference for hardcovers. I find them more satisfying than the softcovers, the cahiers or the volant types. Plus, they seem to hold up better in the long run.

The large-sized Moleskine is by far the most common size, but for this novel, I decided to try out the XL size. I’m so glad I did! I never realized how constrained I felt until I began to write in the XL notebook. Honestly, I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to using the large-sized notebooks ever again. I can’t fathom folks who write in the smaller pocket-sized.

Pen Quiver

The downside to using the XL size Moleskine is that it doesn’t have the accessories that the other notebook sizes do. For my large notebook, I have what Moleskine calls a Tool Belt. It’s basically a strap that attaches to the front cover that allows you to store stuff and carry a pen or pencil. The XL size doesn’t have anything like that.

Because of that, I’ve had to somehow carry my pencil and eraser pen everywhere I’ve gone so that I could write. I assure you, it’s been more of a pain in the butt than you think. Hint: They are easy to misplace or leave behind.

Luckily, the folks over at Quiver had a solution for me. I should point out that most of their products are made from leather. While they look nice, I didn’t want to hurt any animals to solve my writing utensil problems. It turns out they made a nylon version, and that’s what I decided to pick up.

I received it earlier this week and let me tell you; IT’S AWESOME.

Results

I’ve yapped about pencils, notebooks and pen quivers but have I actually done anything this week? Well, yes. You didn’t think I was procrastinating, did you? Don’t answer that.

Not including the copious amount of scene notes I took, I ended up with around eight pages written for the week. That equates to around 2,400 words. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but for us #turtlewriters, that’s pretty good. If I keep that up, I’ll have this draft finished in a year. *faints*

That’s a long time, isn’t it?

Something Is Fishy

It’s hard to believe that this time last week I was at the beach. Truthfully, it feels like forever ago. Ever had one of those long kind of weeks?

TG-870 Underwater Test

A little while back, I picked up the Olympus TG-870 camera wanting to use it for YouTube videos. We won’t talk about why there aren’t any YouTube videos up yet. Okay? Let’s just say it’s not the camera’s fault.

When we found that the ocean was crystal clear and could see the fish swimming at our feet, my son decided to borrow my camera. It’s one of those tough cameras that can handle most things, including underwater photography.

With about 500 photos taken, needless to say, he had fun with it. I think it did pretty well underwater, don’t you think?

Handwriting Compliments

I’ve been posting word count updates on Twitter with photos of my handwritten pages, and the strangest thing started to occur. People started complimenting me on my handwriting.

ME. The king of chicken scratch. How?

We’re not talking about one or two people here. It was more like a dozen or so. I admit, my handwriting looks better when I’m using pencil over pen but that much better?

I’m dumbstruck. I can’t have nice handwriting. That’s not how the universe works. Did I slip into an alternate universe without knowing it?

Speed of Rewrite

Last night I erased just about everything I’d written this past week. Yes, literally. With an eraser. They still make those, you know?

*insert moans and repeated questions of why here*

Well, they sucked. That’s why.

Over the last two years, I’ve pushed myself to meet deadlines that don’t matter. I produced two books that required more edits than my calculator can count and they still need more. I was concerned with quantity over quality. But that’s what edits are for, right?

While it’s true that you can polish a turd (thanks, Mythbusters), it doesn’t change the fact it’s still a turd under all that shiny exterior. #truth

I don’t want a repeat of last time. With this rewrite, despite my inner taskmaster screaming at me, I’m taking it slow and focusing on quality over quantity. That’s another reason I’m handwriting this one instead of typing it.

I’m tired of giving myself permission to write crap. I’m giving myself permission to take my time and write something worth polishing.

After all, at the end of the day, wouldn’t you rather have a polished diamond instead of a piece of polished turd?

Returning to My Roots

Time feels linear, but life has a habit of being circular for some odd reason. This week I returned to my roots and visited family in Eastern North Carolina.

It’s a place of cornfields and tobacco barns as far as the eyes can see. There’s something about that gray sandy soil that will always be home to me. I don’t get to come back very often, but it’s always good to visit now and then.

Topsail Beach

Being so close the coast, we took the opportunity to visit Topsail Beach while we were there. It was amazing to see the full moon and its reflection over the crashing waves. When combined with the roar of the ocean and a strong salty sea wind, it was breathtaking.

What Works

I looked at several different notebooks, but I kept going back to the Moleskines because I trust them to survive anything I throw at them. The large notebook felt too restricting for my prose, so I ended up grabbing an extra large hardcover. Believe it or not, that fixed my cramped feeling!

My Sharpie pens weren’t doing it for me. Nor were my trusty Dr. Grip pens. I played around with several options but landed on going back to a pencil this go round. I did some research and chose to pick up the Uni Kuru Toga pencil.

I’m in love! It automatically feeds the lead for me and keeps the point sharp, no matter how much I use it. It has a great feel in hand. The weirdest part? My handwriting is legible! How did that happen? I mean, it’s cool but very strange.

Forward

It’s been a busy week between work and travel, but I’ve managed to get about two pages written on my story. I’m not thrilled with that progress but forward is still forward, as I told others this week. I’d like to be at least doing a page a day, if not two.

Acrobatics in Savannah

I’d love to report that my little beach vacation was amazing but I kind of ruined it.

My Acrobatics

I took my wife to Savannah because she wanted to go to SCAD’s Gryphon tea room. We had parked in a garage near River Street and were going to walk to the establishment. After exiting the garage, I went to check my wife’s phone to get the directions to the place. Like an idiot, I was walking while I did so.

I didn’t see the pothole until it was too late.

My ankle turned rather sharply as I stepped into it and I went full force down onto my knee. I got to my feet as my wife sprang over to me. Of course, the first the I was worried about was my wife’s phone. It wasn’t cracked, thankfully. My ankle hurt like Hades and my knee? Well, it looked like raw hamburger meat. Extra bloody. Needless to say, we had to take care of that before going to the tea room.

Gryphon was a cool place, in case you’re curious. I’m sure we’ll go there again. Unfortunately, my tea wounds kept me from walking or going into the ocean for a whole day. Brilliant!

NOTE: Don’t walk and Google Maps at the same time.

Catching Up

One of the bad things about coming back from vacation is having to catch up at work. That’s what this week was about. It didn’t slow down any while I was out, sadly.

I will say that I managed to make it into a Starbucks for the first time in over four weeks! I used that opportunity to finalize all my character and story arcs for my novel. Whew!

That meant I was ready to write.

Being Quirky

I tried to repurpose my purple Moleskine to be an all-around writing notebook rather than my poetry notebook. Yeah, NO. My insides screamed. Poetry only. Got it.

I tried typing in Word, Scrivener and Focus Writer. Yeah, that wasn’t working either.

I tried to go digital longhand using my Surface and Surface pen. Nope. I wasn’t feeling it that either, though longhand did do better for me.

I’ve written the opening paragraph, but I honestly need to figure out how this thing wants to be written. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be a longhand draft kind of thing but what’s the medium? Why am I so quirky?

A New Hashtag

There are some writers who can churn out 2,000+ words a day, even those who work full-time. Heck, many of those same writers can churn out 1,000 in just under an hour.

That isn’t me. Nowhere close!

My average word count per hour is around 500 words, and sometimes not even that high. I think that’s because I have to see what happens in my head before I write it.

For the longest time, I thought I was alone in that. It turns out I’m not! I found an awesome hashtag on Twitter called #turtlewriters. They’re a wonderful group of people. If you’re a writer and you write slow, come join us!

Another Book

Holy cow! I can’t believe I managed to get through yet another book. I finished Waistcoats & Weaponry by Gail Carriger. Awesome book, by the way.

Sandy Toes and How Life Goes

My fingers are pruned. My hair is sticky with salt water, and there’s sand between my toes. Who could ask for a better way to end the week?

This weekend the family and I are visiting Tybee Island. It’s a much-needed mini-vacation, especially after the last few weeks.

Work and Writing

My day job has been getting busier as of late, requiring more days where I’m actually in the office. With being busier, I’m not always able to get my lunchtime writing session. Truth be told, I’ve not been able to get that in the last two weeks. And that lunchtime writing session? Yeah, that’s where I get most of my writing done during the day.

After a busy day at work, a long commute home and needing to spend time with family, I’ve had a very slim window in which to get things done lately. The progress report? Oh, you would ask for that.

My Progress

I’ve taken the outlines for all three novels and identified the major plot points for the new story. I’m still struggling how to handle the character arcs and subplots when I had it planned out over several books. I’m also still working out what I want to happen between the major plot points. There’s a lot of material to condense!

On top of that, I’ve started typing up the poetry that I’ve written over the last three months in my poetry notebook. I’m sure it’ll take me a while, but it’s a nice break from outlining when I need it.

It’s a slow go, but that’s normal for me. On average, it takes me a month to get an outline where I want it. This week on Twitter, I saw a quote that applies perfectly:

“Writing is slow but quitting won’t speed it up.”

Truer words never have never been said. I just have to remember to go at my own pace and not to compare myself others. My journey is not their journey.

Social Media

Speaking of Twitter! I’m on social media networks like Facebook and Twitter to connect with others and have real conversations, especially with other writers.

But as of late, I’m feeling more like a target than a connection. The number of people who use automatic direct messages just floors me. Not only are they impersonal, but they also have a tendency to request that we follow them on other social media platforms, buy their book or sign up for their mailing list. Or a combination of all three. No. Just, no!

If folks don’t have time to interact with their followers without auto direct messages, why are they there? They clearly aren’t there to network. They’re there to sell. It’s a pity. Going forward, I’m taking a hardline stance against folks who do that. If you auto direct message, I’m going to auto-unfollow/friend. Simple as that.

I’m not a target, and I’m not just a number in a numbers game. And what is with all the robot accounts lately?

Reading

Amidst all the craziness of the last week, would you believe that managed to read TWO books? Yeah, me either. But I did!

I read Etiquette and Espionage and Curtsies and Conspiracies by Gail Carriger. I seriously love her writing voice. If you haven’t read them, get on it already.