In like a lion, out like a lamb

March has been a strange mixed bag of weather this year. It has also been a strange month for me writingly speaking. I have been writing more in my journal, and less on my WIPs and this blog. Part of this is coming from joining the IJ FB group and being more aware than I usually am. Not that this is bad, my journal has been the place I turn to when something excites, bugs, or frightens me. However the more time I spend journaling, the less creative writing I do. I haven’t found the correlation between the two, but that is how I’ve been since I can rember.

So as March closes and April sweeps in, I want to consciously renew my connection with my WIPs, while maintaining my renewed zeal for journaling. I want to keep my newfound passion for fountain pens going. Getting more familar and improving my pennmanship as well as a slower more conscious way of writing will influence my writing and my way of thinking. Sometimes I write fast caught up in the moment only to run head first into a wall. Then it seems to take twice as long to find a way around, over or through the wall than if I’d been a hair slower in my writing and a tad faster looking ahead.

Cheers on this cool, moody, Thursday evening, james

Fountain Pens: Say Whaat?

After reading so many glowing reviews about fountain pens, I bit the bullet and purchased one. It is from a Japanese company called Hero. My pen is the medium nib Light or Extra Light. I’m not exactly sure which one I have. I purchased my pen as a three pack from a seller in Virginia, speerbob. I then wandered down to the local Staples for a bottle of Parker Quink black ink. Sadly that was the only bottle of ink they had. It seems to get any of the really cool colors I’ll have to order them online. Goulet and Jetpens seem to be pretty good sources for both ink and pens. Amazon and Staples also have a good selection of inks and some really nice (expensive) pens.

Anyway after taking pen apart and attempting to fill with ink. User error, still practicing. My pens are the lever fill style, which means they have a bladder that fills with ink. And I have no doubt there is a simple trick for filling them, I just haven’t found it yet. I got enough ink in the pen so I could use it.

Wow, my writing has never looked so neat or sexy. I was using regular copy paper and the pen glided across the surface and I had no trouble with the ink bleeding through or smearing or other such problems. The nib is a medium, however because it is Japnese made it is like an American fine nib. It writes smoothly and I wrote a whole 8.5×11 page before I noticed the ink getting light and not flowing as well. A whole page of tiny cursive letters and words and no hand cramping. Amazing! Ever since I learned to write cursive in third grade, my hand cramps and it is hard to write for long periods of time. Printing or my mismash style of writing doesn’t bother me. I really wish someone had introduced me to fountain pens back then, my handwriting would have been greatly improved.

So I topped it off, capped it, and left it standing upright. There is a tendacy for a fountain pen to leak if left in a horizonal or nib down position. Most fountain pen users say a good bottle of ink will last a year or possibly longer depending on useage and properly storing the ink out of sunlight and in a cooler environment, such as a desk drawer or my current location an old cigar box.

All in all I paid $10 for three pens and $11 for a 2 ounce bottle of ink. So that is an investment of $7 per pen. Not bad, not bad at all. So if you have ever wondered or considered trying a fountain pen, do it. I really don’t think you’ll regret it.

Cheers on a rainy Easter evening, james

Commonplace Books

The Innovative Journaling facebook group was discussing reading old diaries, corespondance etc. One member asked if anyone looked at or knew about commonplace books. This was a new topic. So I Googled it. I finally have a name for my notebooks. Although my humble little notebooks are not as exact as those historical gems.

According to Wikpedia: Commonplace books are a way to compile knowledge, usually by writing information into books. Such books are essentially scrapbooks filled with items of every kind …

These books were kept by everybody and used as a learning tool. They recorded the mundane to the fantastical. Quotes, scriptures, medical information, anything the author thought was important to remember. I am sure family and genealogy records were kept in them as well. Imagine the historical value these books have for society at large as well as the personal value of being able to look back at Great, great, great, grandma’s recipe for making soap or candles.

That would be an incredible connection from the present to the past. Being able to step back in time to see what your ancestors or historical figures would have considered important and to see what kind of personality would have come through. These books were scrapbooks, textbooks, and unique to the individual that penned it. There are websites that have digital copies of the commonplace books. Harvard, the Library of Congress, and I think I saw something for Stanford. If you have any interest in the historical I urge you to check these treasures out.

Cheers, james


Do you journal?

Since joining the Innovative Journaling Facebook group I’ve noticed journalers seem to cover every walk of life. One member has been journaling over thirty years and has a whole bookshelf for the journals. At the same time there are men, women, young people all keeping a record of moments in time. There are some awesome journalers that draw, paint and use other methods of media. A lot of them are long time fountain pen users or novice fountain pen-ers, of which I fall into. In fact I ordered three Hero medium nib fountain pens. Lot of mixed reviews on these pens, but all agree they are a great starter pen. So this weekend maybe I can get to a Michaels for some ink. I don’t think my local Staples sells bottled ink. The pens I have are ones that you fill directly from the bottle. Wish me luck on finding the ink locally and getting started learning to use a fountain pen.

In my journal I write on a Barnes and Noble 6×8 lined journal refill in a green Wilson leather cover. So I never thought about sketching or painting or anything else, but write in it. Then I got my Primer journal from Innovative Journaling with the scariest thing, unlined paper. I have always steered away from unlined paper because my writing isn’t straight and travels slanted across the page. But it was a small page and I decided I would try and if I couldn’t bear looking at the results I could … you know. Anyway since then I’ve written smaller, neater and yeah my lines wiggle and wobble. I feel freer like those lined pages were jailers bars imprisoning my creative flow.

I used to try and keep a daily journal over the years, but I have settled into more of a important thing vs daily. Weird dreams, life events, needing to vent and exlode without restraint, those are the big things I write about. Then the days I feel restless as if the words are right under my skin crawling about and I have to write them out. Okay that is kinda super creepy. Lol.

So my question to you is do journal? Daily, big stuff, little stuff, for your kids, or for future you or future generations? Lined vs unlined paper, writing, sketching, doodling, painting, scrapebooking? All of it counts, all of it records a snapshot of our thoughts at that time and place.  Cheers, james

What would You burn first?

In the movie The Day After Tomorrow the main character takes shelter in the New York City Library. To stay warm they light up the old fireplaces. They burn books. Two characters are arguing about not burning the classics. When a third says, “why not burn all the tax code books first?” It was a duh moment for the other two.

So my question to you is: Which books would you burn if you had to stay warm in a library? I am not cruel enough to ask you to chose in your personal collection.

I think my first choice would any gossip magazines, Cosmo, Red Book etc. Then I would move on to any authors that I think stink. I won’t name any names. And tax laws are too numerous to not use to stay warm.

Cheers, james

Innovative Journaling Announcement

Dear Readers,

A week or two back I posted about this awesome company in Santa Fe that makes journals. They even give you a free journal (love my lil book) if you give them email.

They have set up a Facebook Group dedicated to journal and fountain pen people. If you are a kindrrd soul, please check them out. So far there are 290 people that have joined. I despise Facebook, but I signed up and there are some cool folks to meet.

Cheers, james

Blogging and writing

I have been writing on and off throughout my life. Blogging is still new. March 2 is my blog’s second year and I have 126 folks that keep up with my blog. I started blogging with no clear set agenda other than to help me get back into writing. I’ve written about my current writing projects, book reviews, favorite authors, and movies. I’ve written poetry which I have never very good at, but people have been very encouraging. I have posted parts of a short story, and received encouragement on that. I have written about not writing and knitting or drinking tea.

I think my second year of blogging will pretty much be like my last year of blogging. Because every post I write is an extension of me and my thoughts. I started blogging in hopes that by writing to some mythical reader I would be more accountable. However I found real people, real readers that inspire me with their kindness and their own blogs.

So here is to a new year of posting. Cheers, james

Book Review: The Ridge

I picked up a book at Dollar Tree that sounded pretty cool.

The Ridge by Michael Koryta

This was a mystery/supernatural/thriller stand alone novel. It centers on a weird dude that built a weird lighthouse in the middle of the mountains. From there, Mr. Koryta takes us up, down, around, and some loop de loops. Every time you think you have a grasp on everything. He shows you a different angle and things change again. The characters were very rounded and believable. I really liked the book. After the story ends, he included info about the real life big cat sanctuary his fictional rescue drew from. And a Q&A about the writing of the book and his process.
So now I’m off to the bookstore to see what other of his books I can sink my fangs teeth into. Cheers on this chilly Friday night, james