Notebook Collection, part 7

This is the second half of my attempt to get caught up on posting about the newest additions to my notebook collection (which is really more of an obsession than a collection).

If anyone is interested in the previous posts as my smattering of notebooks became a collection and has grown:
Post #1
Post #2
Post #3
Post #4
Post #5
Post #6

notebook 5b

The story of this first notebook is a little sad. I recently read the entire Harry Potter series for the first time. Of course that opens up a whole new world of fandom merchandise to be interested in, which for me means notebooks. Though I prefer to shop for notebooks at stores, rather than online, I came across this one on Amazon (or maybe my husband did). It is not simply due to the fact that it’s from the series I’d recently read that I really liked it; it was also due simply to the overall look and style, being made to look like the Hogwarts letter from the very first book/movie. The seal has a magnet in it and keeps the notebook closed, and the cover is faux leather. And the best part is, like a LoTR notebook I got last year, what you see here is actually a book cover, inside which is a plain notebook with a cardboard front and back cover that can be removed when it’s filled, allowing this cover to be used again!

notebook 5a

Unfortunately, when the notebook arrived, it had a large sticker around the bottom of the cover. And when I peeled the sticker off, a lot of the adhesive was left behind and small bits of coating on the cover were removed with the sticker. I cleaned most of the adhesive off with Goo Gone, but the damage was done. Plus, the Goo Gone got into the material a bit and just would not come off, no matter what I used on it (trying to be careful not to further ruin the parts where the coating had come off). As you can tell from the bottom picture, it’s not too noticeable, especially if you don’t know where to look. I did contact the company that manufactures them, though, and strongly recommended that they do not put STICKERS directly on their notebooks.


notebook 6a

Let me mention now that, though I did like the Harry Potter series, I didn’t love it to the degree that this post may make it seem. But while either waiting for the other notebook to arrive or possibly while dealing with the sticker issue (I don’t remember the timing), I saw a boxnotebook 6b set at the mall that included the notebook shown to the left, a pen modeled after Harry’s wand from the movie, and the mug shown here too. I have a thing about mugs that appeal to me in some way too (though have far less mugs than I do notebooks), so it seemed perfect for me. I’ve used the mug many times (especially during the winter and early spring when I was still reading the HP books and it was cold outside).


notebook 7

This was an online purchase around the same time as the letter notebook. I stopped myself there, though, because I’m sure I could find so many notebooks in the the vast supply online (compared to in stores that I visit now and then) that I loved that it would bankrupt my family, if I didn’t put a tiny limit on it.

I love the nautical theme on this notebook with a leather-type cover. The anchor actually hangs along the spine, but I wanted to make sure it could be seen in the picture. And the wheel is at the end of a long piece of leather that wraps around the book to keep it closed.

While the outside has this adventure & travel feel to it, inside there is actually a 3-ring binder contraption, with plastic dividers that can be used to organize whatever you use the notebook pages for.


notebook 8aI’ve said it before, but I always love a good bargain on a notebook. My husband basically goes to every Goodwill store he passes, looking for uncommon board game deals (which he finds pretty often, actually). When I go with him, I generally look at the books for the same reason. Notebooks are much less notebook 8bcommon to find, for probably obvious reasons. But we did see this one, and though I’m not a huge Star Wars fan, my husband is. So he decided I should have this, and for $1, it’s not worth putting up an argument. I do like the style of artwork on it, so I’m not complaining. Besides, with how many notebooks that I have that are almost too pretty to use, it’s nice to have some that don’t give me that feeling.


While I’ve done a decent job this year in not buying a ton of notebooks (compared to before that), when my husband and I go on trips, we tend to find notebooks that I just have to have (I say “we” because he buys them for me, or pushes me to buy ones he can see I really like, at least as often as I decide to buy them myself). At the time of this posting, we’re on a week-long anniversary trip, so it’s very possible I’ll have more to share soon!

Do you collect anything related to reading or writing? Feel free to share!

Notebook Collection, part 6

I’ve been putting off posting about my most recent notebook acquisitions for a few months now. I don’t know why. But I realized today that, since my husband and I are going on an anniversary trip in a few days, I’m likely to have more soon. So it’s time to get caught up.

If anyone is interested in the previous posts as my smattering of notebooks became a collection and has grown:
Post #1
Post #2
Post #3
Post #4
Post #5

notebook 1

It’s not very often that I add a notebook to my collection that is full-sized. Most of those that catch my eye are about half the size of the standard 8 1/2 x 11. This one is not only full-size, but has hard front and back covers, with an indented, condensed image of a map of the world. I still can’t explain my apparent fascination with maps on my notebooks, but I really like the way it looks.


notebook 2

Everyone knows about the flippy sequins that are all over everything these days, right? I used to think it was silly, but at some point, I realized how it might be soothing to flip them back and forth while sitting and reading or something. But I didn’t want it on just anything. My husband got me a large blanket of this type, which was perfect, because we keep our house pretty cool in the winter, and I am usually found under a blanket. More recently, I spotted a notebook at Meijer with the exact same color pattern of flippy sequins…it seemed like destiny. Granted, it might not be the easiest notebook to actually write in, but given the rate I’m going through these notebooks, that won’t be an issue for a long time.


notebook 3

Don’t let the size of the picture fool you–this notebook is quite small. Still not the smallest I have though. My husband insisted on me getting this one at WinterJam in February. Building 429 is amongst my favorite bands, and “Fear No More” is my favorite of their recent songs. (though the honor of my favorite song of theirs overall still belongs to “Where I Belong”). Concert t-shirts are good too, but this kind of souvenir definitely appeals to me a lot.


notebook 4In my previous notebook post, I shared my discovery of novel journals, an in particular, the Sherlock Holmes one I had picked up. While these notebooks are seriously amazing to me, I have read very few of the classics that they are based on. I had seen somewhere that there was one for Anne of Green Gables, which not only have I read, I loved! However, I was finding these sporadically in different locations, and was at the mercy of which books they had. The price online wasn’t preferable at the time either. Then I happened to see this at Meijer, of all places, and so now it’s mine. I haven’t been able to bring myself to take the plastic wrapper off of it yet though. Many of the notebooks I buy are wrapped in plastic, but always have a flap with adhesive to open the package easily. I tend to take the book out to look at it or take a picture, then put it back until I’m ready to start using it. Keeps it clean while it sits and waits. But this one doesn’t have a flap, it’s just completely sealed. So once it’s out, it’s out for good.


This is half of the most recent additions to my collection. I prefer to share shorter posts since the first few that were so long (since I share the story behind every notebook). So some time next week, I’ll post about 4 more. And then we’ll see if after our vacation, I have another post to make. (I’m just as likely to return with a stack of books as notebooks, now that I’ve found my way back to reading so much.)

Do you have any favorite notebooks? Feel free to share!

Notebook Collection, part 5

I don’t know why I got it into my head that I needed to share every notebook I bought on my blog. It’s probably part of being obessed with buying them. I want to share them, and the story behind them, with others!

If anyone is interested in the previous posts as my collection grew: the first 12 notebooks, the next 10, 6 more, and another 5. And now here are the next 5 additions:

6

Box Lunch is my favorite of all the “geek stores” at our local mall, mostly because it is so focused on things from my childhood (A Goofy Movie, Aristocats, The Rescuers), on top of the more recent Disney movies, and many other popular fandoms. I found this notebook in the clearance section. The cover of this half-size notebook has lenticular printing, which sort of makes it look like Mario’s trying to dodge barrels if you tilt the book up and down.


7

This is from the same visit to Box Lunch. You may recognize the look if you’ve seen the movie Up. It’s about the same size as a full-size notebook, though the length and width are swapped (not even my first notebook with that shape). The front and back cover are actually tied on with that string you see there, which worried me at first, imagining the pages falling out. But the pages are bound together, so I think it’s safe.


8a

At a bargain store, I found an incredibly interesting notebook that was labeled a “novel journal” (not the one shown here). It was based on the book Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I’ve seen an adaptation, but not read the book, so I looked around the area where I found it for an edition I could connect with more, since the label mentioned some other novels that I would have preferred. I didn’t find any, but I still loved the notebook, so I bought it.

8bA few weeks later at Half Price books, I found a few more varieties of novel journals, so with a little deliberation, I bought the Sherlock Holmes edition. Shown in the right picture, the lines are actually comprised of text from the stories, which is what makes these journals so cool!

(Side note: I gave the Jane Eyre version to my sister, who actually has read the book.)


9aWhile considering the previous notebook at Half Price Books, I saw this book nearby. I mentioned in the previous notebook post that I seem to like notebooks with maps on them, and this was no exception.  9b Besides the Tolkien quote on the front, it’s filled with other quotes about adventure, presumably because it’s meant to be a travel journal.


Finally for this batch, this cute half-sized, skinny notebook was a gift from my in-laws for Christmas. I don’t know if it was intentional, but the words on the front were quite appropriate, because my husband and I love escape rooms (and I used to work at one, and while I worked there, we had this expression put on a t-shirt). My mother-in-law went a step further, too, and wrote on the first few pages–a dedication, then some quotes about writing, and to the third page she taped the print-out shown in the right picture above.

I’m now caught up on sharing my notebooks, and I’ve been trying really hard not to get any more. But the only real way to avoid it is to stop going to the notebook section in stores that I visit…and I like to look at them. If I used them more quickly, I might not mind it so much, but it’s so much easier to type than to write in a notebook, as much as I love writing by hand. Anyway…

Do you collect anything related to reading or writing? Feel free to share!

Notebook Collection, part 4

This will be my 4th post about my notebook collection. I planned to put this out several weeks ago, but the holidays got in the way. Of course, I’ve added even more since I realized I had enough to post about. I’m splitting them into 2 posts, but I’ll have to post the 2nd one soon, or I’ll have even more to add to it.

Truthfully, I am trying very hard to cut down on how many I get. The shelf where I keep them is full now, and I’m not exactly using them up quickly. It’s just so difficult when there are so many amazing notebooks out there! It really is an obsession…

Speaking of which, follow these links to see the first, second, and third posts about my collection. And now here are the next 5 additions:

1

I’ve actually had this notebook for years and recently found it on a different shelf. My mother-in-law gave it to me when I was first starting to collect notebooks (before I thought of it as a collection). It’s a cute little journal with a window in the front, inside which are actual dried flowers (well, they might be fake…I haven’t exactly opened it, but the point is that it’s not a 2-dimensional representation, but actual flowers inside).


2

This mini notebook with accompanying pen was a gift from my local library, when I took part in a display at a festival in our town. They had a couple of tables set up for local authors to sell books, promote themselves, and talk to the public about writing or publishing. It was the first time I’d ever done something like this, and paved the way for a slightly larger event at the library in the next city over.


3

My husband got this at a thrift store a month or so before Christmas, and I love the ugly Christmas sweater look. I’m also always happy to add to my collection at a bargain price. It’s a half-sized notebook that is thicker than most of my notebooks of the same size.

 


4a

4bWe have a plethora of places to get cheaply priced notebooks in my area, which I’m afraid is really a problem for me. During the Christmas shopping season, we went to a store that’s only open during that time and sells goods for really cheap. They had several notebooks that caught my eye. I decided to stick to only buying 2 (even though they were super cheap). I chose this one because of the gold fringe and sparkly page edges.


5This is the other notebook I got at the store mentioned above. It’s closer to a normal notebook size and spiral-bound, which will make it easier to write in. I’ve also noticed that I really like notebooks with maps on them, and I do live in Indiana, so it was easy to decide on.

 

 

I’ll have another post next week, and hopefully it will only include 5 notebooks. If there are more than 5, you’ll know how weak I really am…

Notebook Collection, part 3

To make a long story short, I have a bit of a notebook collection. A current count shows 15 empty notebooks, and probably close to that many either filled or currently being filled. I just can’t help myself when I’m out, whether at a mall, a gift shop, or just about any store that has any selection of notebooks or stationery. In the last couple of years, I have tried to cut down on buying any, but I’ve still made some purchases.

I’ve shared my collection on my blog twice now, and I realized a few weeks ago that I have bought 6 more since the 2nd post. So rather than wait until I have 10 to post about, since I like to share the story behind each notebook and don’t want the post to be as long as last time, I decided now is a good time for a post.

(Follow these links to see the first and second posts about my collection)

notebook 1

This is my first official Moleskine notebook (and only so far). My husband and I were at Barnes and Noble and I saw their display of them and told my husband how they were a famous brand of notebooks. As often happens when I show interest in something in front of my husband, he insisted I get one. I haven’t started using it yet, but have plans for it to replace my NaNoWriMo notebook that is more than half full now, because it’s the same shape and size (that’s a compulsion with me).


notebook 2

I don’t actually have much to say about this one. I’m pretty sure my husband bought it for me when I wasn’t with him and surprised me with it. He introduced me to Pokemon when we got married (in fact, he basically introduced me to the whole world of geek), so it’s quite fitting, really. It’s empty, and probably will be for a while.


notebook 3

I can’t try to shame anyone who hasn’t seen Stranger Things, because when the first season was out, it took me about a year to get around to watching it, even though my husband and many others I knew said how great it was. My husband found this notebook (at Walmart, of all places) a week or so before season 3 came out last month. The cover is actually from season 1 though, which I was glad for, because I didn’t like season 2 quite as much, and didn’t know yet what I’d think about season 3.


notebook 4anotebook 4b

The next 3 notebooks were all bought on the same weekend anniversary trip my husband and I took last month. As soon as I saw this notebook, I knew I had to have it…there was really no question. The book can be closed with the leather lace, wrapping it around the book, and then around/under the leaf on the front. The green is a soft material, and the right picture shows the quote that is on the inside cover. It wasn’t even until after I bought it and looked at it more that I realized that what you see here is actually a book cover, inside which is a plain notebook with a cardboard front and back cover that can be removed when it’s filled, so the outer LoTR-themed cover can be re-used. So it was even better than I thought when I first found it! I’m pretty much in love with it. I have no idea what I’m going to use it for, but I think I have to start using it very soon.


notebook 5aI found this book in the clearance section of Barnes & Noble. It might seem strange to many, but it piqued my interest. It’s a guest book, meant to be used for whatever guest books are normally used for. But inside, there are lines like in any notebook, and somehow the unique shape of it, and even the word “GUESTS” on the cover and each page, led me to have all sorts of ideas about the inspiration that could come while writing in it. So it was worth it for a clearance price. (My husband tried to tell me he didn’t think I was weird, but I could tell he did.)


notebook 6anotebook 6b

The final notebook for this post was found in a bargain store. I told myself not to go to the office supplies area, but I just couldn’t help myself (I never can). The wood grain cover was enough to at least draw my attention, but I would have put it back and walked away had I not opened it and seen the inside cover. My estimate is that the map is from around the time of the French & Indian War, though I admit I haven’t looked it up or anything. Either way, I really liked the look of it, so now it’s part of my collection.

I’ve noticed that I’m not the only writer who has a plethora of notebooks, so feel free to show me yours!

Happy Stranger Things Day!

ST notebook

Whether you’ve already watched all of season 3, or are saving it for later (or are somewhere in between), I just wanted to give a shout out to my fellow Stranger Things fans! My husband and I might watch some of it tonight, but we’re saving most of it for our mini vacation this weekend while we celebrate our 19th anniversary (which was Monday).

Also, happy Independence Day to those of you who are in the States!

**The above image is the cover of a notebook my husband bought me a few days ago. I’m a bit of a notebook collector, and was just thinking to myself that I haven’t gained any new notebooks since my last post updating my collection. Though now I’ve realized I have added at least 2 before this one. Still not enough for a new post.

Who’s watched it? Who’s planning to? Who hasn’t watched season 1 yet?

Beautiful Books 2017, NaNo in Progress

bb-redone

If you don’t know what “Beautiful Books” is, click the above picture to find out!

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?
I have been having a lot of fun writing so far! After a year and a half away from writing, just getting back into my story world and back to these characters has been so much fun. Because of that, my novel isn’t progressing very quickly.

For one thing, this novel takes place after five other plotlines that involve mostly the same characters, and are already either drafted or at least solidly planned. As the story goes on, various events that happened in other stories come up. And one character has been away for over five years, so he wants to know about those events, and the other characters tell him the story. (In some cases, he’s the one who was involved in the story and gets to share with others.)

So at least half of my words so far have been telling these stories. I know for certain that it won’t stay in the story when it’s edited someday, because this book would come after the others, so readers should already know all of this already. It will be redundant. But boy, has it been fun reminiscing with them.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?
When my brother went on his first date, he asked me for advice. I’m more than a year younger than him, and had no experience with things like dating, but then, neither did he. It may have been because I’m friends with the girl he was taking out. It may have been because he frankly didn’t have much knowledge about the country outside of his town and the capital city. Or it may have been because he was simply nervous. Either way, I think I helped him come up with quite the wonderful first date.

3. Who’s your current favorite character in your novel?
It’s definitely Naolin. In my last Beautiful Books post, I said the thing I was most looking forward to about writing this was getting to write about Naolin again. And I have loved it.

4. What do you love about your novel so far?
I suppose I already explained that above. I’m coming to the end of stories that they can tell, and will have to really start into the plot. But I think that, after 1.5 years away from writing, this was a great way to start NaNo.

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?
I have so many typos. It’s how I’m able to write so much in the amount of time I do.
But there was this gem: Aeldrim’s face held a look of quizzicality(?) for a brief moment, and then he recognized his once-unit underling.
I realized as I was writing the word “quizzicality” that it wasn’t a word, and I had no idea what word might replace it. So I just typed in the question mark and moved on. I’m pretty sure it actually is a word though…it just seemed wrong to me at the time.

I also wrote: “There is more drama here than in a soap opera,” the author interjected. Everyone ignored her.
That was during one particularly high-drama story that started going even further into emo-town than I wanted. I wrote this line, at first thinking to attribute it to one of the characters, but soap operas don’t exist in their world, so…I just put myself in.

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end — and why?
Hmm, I’m not sure I’ve really thought about this before, but I think the end. I really like the climax, as it’s usually something I’ve been planning and looking forward to for a while. Sometimes I think that my excitement about the final scenes leads me to write them in a way that feels rushed, so that may be a down side. But I try to fix that in editing.

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!
I write best at night. Sometime between 8pm and 3am. It’s quieter and my responsibilities are asleep. I sometimes listen to music, but the most consistent audible tool that I use is some kind of white background noise like from Coffitivity. As for snacks, during NaNo I tend to consume an unhealthy amount of day-after-Halloween-sale candy. Outside of November, I can’t keep up that habit due to both expense and it’s so unhealthy.

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work alone (like, ahem, Batman)?
Sort of both. I would share every day’s writing with people if I could. But I know that anyone who is interested in knowing the story is better off reading it start to finish after it’s done. However, I have often used my husband as a sounding board when I’m stuck, or shared exciting break-throughs with him.

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?
The knowledge that if I don’t keep going, I will never be able to share my stories with anyone else. I’m not looking to be a bestselling novelist; my aim is to find an audience, whatever size that might be, who will enjoy the complex and exciting plots I’ve weaved together as much as I do. But that will never happen if I don’t get them out (and then get them revised).

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?
Oooh, three? I’ve been happy in the past to come up with one. Let’s see here…
– “Write every day” is a nice goal to shoot for, but it can’t be something that you let rule you. If you have other full-time endeavors, whether that’s a job, kids to raise, or whatever else it might be, you have to write in your spare time. And sometimes spare time is hard to find. If you miss a day or two here or there, but don’t let it break your overall habit, you’re still making progress.
– Keep everything. As soon as you change a word in your first draft, save it as draft 2. If you take out an entire chunk while in the middle of a draft, consider saving it in a different file. You never know what you might wish you’d kept, what you might be thinking about later and wish you could remember what you’d written. Save it all.
– All of those writing tips and “rules” you’ve read? They don’t mean anything. They can be helpful, and if some of them work for you, then great! But don’t force yourself to stick to anything that doesn’t feel right or makes writing less fun. They’re not rules. They’re tips and helpful hints.


For anyone out there who is participating in NaNoWriMo, feel free to check out my series of tips and tricks for the month, and also to add me as a writing buddy! (Let me know you came from here, and I’ll add you back!)

My NaNoWriMo Tradition

I have participated in NaNoWriMo 7 times in the past. Though I “won” every year (wrote at least 50k words in the 30-day time limit), I would argue varying degrees of success in those wins.

Lifetime stats

Flames, on the sides of my face…

Just like each year has a different visual theme on the website, each year has a different memorable thing about it for me. Like 2012 was the year I pantsed it (rough year); 2014 was the year I blogged it (not the novel, just how the month went); 2016 was the year I barely remember (hiding in a [figurative] cave…).

One of my favorite traditions for NaNo is to buy a t-shirt to commemorate the event. In recent years, I’ve taken to pre-ordering the winner shirt. It may be a bit presumptuous of me, but now that I think about it, that may have been what pushed me to finish last year, when I was 13,000 words behind coming into day 27. I would have felt such shame having a winner’s shirt if I didn’t win.

So every year I’ve participated in NaNoWriMo, I’ve bought a shirt…except one. My very first year, 2007, I don’t think I even knew they sold shirts. Or perhaps I wasn’t quite as connected to the event. Whatever the reason, I didn’t buy one. In the last 2 years or so, I’ve wished I had one. In the online store, they have various versions of previous years’ shirts still for sale, but not back to 2007. I’ve searched online on different occasions, but never even saw an image of what it would look like.

Until a few weeks ago. I was commenting on a blog post about how a NaNo t-shirt has become my souvenir every year, and decided to search online again. And lo and behold–I found one for sale on eBay! It wasn’t my size, but still, I had new hope. A few days later I was sharing my excitement with my husband, and when I brought up the page, it was a different listing, and it was in my size! He told me to buy it right away, so I did!

2007 shirt

I feel a little silly getting so excited over a t-shirt, but not half as silly as I feel about the way I reacted when I found out that it had a hole in it the first time I wore it. (No, I didn’t cry…but I was utterly dejected.) It’s not in a helpful place like a seam either, but right on the stomach, and it’s big enough for me to suspect a fix job won’t look great. We’ve contacted the seller (it was definitely there when I put it on), but I don’t hold out a lot of hope for that working out. (For one thing, I don’t see any indication that they have any more for sale now, so even if they give us a refund, it probably won’t be able to be replaced. Though if they offer a refund, I will be content with that.)

I don’t want that to spoil the purpose of this post though. Getting a NaNo shirt every year that I participate is a tradition that I really enjoy and will continue to do.

My NaNoWriMo Tradition

I haven’t ordered the winner’s shirt for this year yet, but I may still…and if I don’t win, I will just have to edit this graphic to the regular shirt, because no matter what happens, I know I’ll get a 2017 shirt.

Do you have any NaNoWriMo traditions? Do you get some kind of souvenir when you participate?

 

 

Notebook Collection, part 2

When I first started this blog as a place to post my daily writing work, to hold myself accountable, a few months in, I wrote a post about my notebooks. Around that time I had come to realize that I had what could officially be called a collection of notebooks. I had never before been a collector of anything besides dust, junk, and words.

I hadn’t intended to start collecting notebooks, and I understand now that people don’t wake up one day and decide to start collecting something (well, some people may do that; I’m not here to generalize). I decided then to share my notebook collection on my fledgling blog with maybe 3 readers (I’m not just being self-deprecating—I didn’t exactly promote the blog that was only meant to keep myself working on my writing).

Here is that first post, written a little over 3 years ago. In the time since then, my collection has grown. That first post has notebooks going all the way back to my childhood, and in 3 years, I’ve doubled the amount.

I think it has something to do with admitting to myself and to my family that this is a collection. And since then, I’ve upgraded that admission to “obsession.” Now, my head isn’t turned by every brightly colored, spiral-bound notebook sitting on a shelf at the store. But I can’t help but love notebooks that are unique, interesting, related to something I like, or have a story behind them.

So now that I’ve returned to my blog after a year and a half hiatus, it seems like a good time to post about the additions to my collection. At the end, I even mention a few items that aren’t notebooks, but are worth noting. Warning: I plan to tell the story of each of these, and while these are not every single notebook I’ve gained since July of 2014, it’s still going to be a long post. Continue at your own discretion.

NaNo notebookMy parents gave me this NaNoWriMo notebook for Christmas in 2014. It was a new product in their store at the time, and I’d wanted a blank notebook from them for years. I was one (among many, I’m sure) who suggested they create a blank notebook instead of the confusing (to me, at least) notebooks they already had that seemed to have filled pages and maybe blank ones, but who knows without buying them. I’ve started using it for exactly what it says there–NaNoNovel prep notes.

notebook 2In April, 2015, my family went to Canada mainly to attend the farewell concert of a Toronto-based geek band. We went through Niagara Falls on our way home, and there I got this souvenir of the trip. It’s made of recycled paper, the cover is cardboard, and even the pen that it came with is mostly made of cardboard! This notebook is still unused.

notebook-3.jpgMy parents-in-law gave me this journal on my birthday in (I think) 2015. It has a very nice, squishy cover, and has various Bible verses on the bottoms of some of the pages. I started using it near the end of 2015 as a daily gratitude journal which I’ve continued with varying consistency since then.

notebook 4This notebook is one of my favorites. My husband gave it to me for Christmas in 2015. It’s one of my larger notebooks (so many are half the size of a normal, school-use notebook) and has a squishy cover as well. The clasp (shown in insert) is engraved with, “Dream, Plan, Write Every Day…” which is a motto I made up and used as a title to a series of blog posts with writing tips. I’ve used this notebook for some writing practice, and will continue to do so once I get back into the habit.

notebook-5.jpgThe story behind this one isn’t nearly as good as the others, because my husband insisted on getting it for me when we walked by a sale of monogrammed notebooks at JoAnn’s. But it’s interesting to me, because I never used to be the kind of person who cared about my initial on things, but I find I enjoy it now. This one is a half-sized notebook, but it’s lined, and has a cloth cover. It’s unused for now.

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It might be hard to tell from the picture, but this is a magnetic notebook. You can take pages out and put them back in, refill the notebook, move a page up so you can write on the bottom better, and even print on the pages and put them back into the notebook. I haven’t started using it yet because I feel like it should be saved for something really special. That’s a problem I’m starting to have with a lot of my notebooks though.

This notebook came from a preview trip to the Ark Encounter in Kentucky in July of 2016. It is handmade with a hand-carved wood cover and cotton paper. (The left is the front cover, the right is an informational insert that is still attached to the back cover.) It is beautiful and oddly square-shaped, which makes it stand out even more amongst my other notebooks. This one may be the hardest one for me to ever bring myself to start writing in.

notebook-7.jpgLast Christmas, my daughter came up with the perfect idea for a gift for me while we were at Barnes & Noble. Based on various clues, I knew she was planning to get me a notebook, and I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I have too many as it is and really shouldn’t keep getting more. She’s only 7 (was 6 at the time) and loves coming up with gift ideas on her own, so I didn’t want to ruin that for her, and let my husband help her buy this beautiful, soft-covered, hand-embroidered notebook. It is unused so far, and I’m torn between wanting to save it for something special and wanting her to see me using it.

notebook 9Just a few months ago, ThinkGeek opened a store in a mall near us. We went to the grand opening, and my husband insisted we both get something. I was able to resist until I saw this notebook. I didn’t even have to say anything; he grabbed it and didn’t give me a chance to argue (not that I would have much). I watched this movie quite a bit when I was younger, and it even has a golden ticket inside, because…well, how could it not? It’s unused so far, and low on the list of books to start using, which doesn’t bother me.

This is my newest addition, just picked it up last weekend. I went to a living history reenactment, the biggest one in our area. I saw this beauty in Daniel Boone’s tent, and ogled it a bit. It has a leather cover and (I suspect) bark pages, with a metal clasp to hold it shut. I held myself back for reasons I already mentioned (I have too many…), but my husband snuck back later and bought it for me. I’m beginning to see a pattern here…my husband is an enabler. He’s definitely one who shows his love through gift-giving.

Now I’m out of notebooks for this post, but in case anyone has gotten down this far (even just by skimming), I have a couple of other things of note in this vein:

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After desiring a Freewrite for a few years, but knowing that I couldn’t remotely justify spending that much money on something that was just for a hobby, I stumbled across the information that other such items existed. I don’t remember if I went looking for a substitute, or just got lucky, but I read some reviews and found out that the Alphasmart Neo was everything I wanted out of a highly portable, distraction-free writing device. They’re not in production anymore, but you can find cheap used ones online. So I linked it to my husband last fall and hinted about a Christmas gift, and sure enough, he came through! It can save up to 8 different files, transfers to your computer when you’re ready for that (though if you have a long file, that part can take a while), and the battery life has been incredible so far. I am highly anticipating using this in my first NaNoWriMo next month. I may have to sew up a padded sleeve for it so that I can transport it in my massive Handbag of Holding without worrying about hurting it.

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Lastly, this is my fidget pen. The little balls that are attaching that curved piece to the pen are magnetic, as is the very top of the pen, where the larger ball is attached. This thing keeps my hands busy for hours. I had noticed a tendency to take apart pens or mechanical pencils that I used while writing or in meetings, and I knew this pen would be perfect for me. It also came with the desk toy. (Video of pen in action) I don’t know about anyone else, but fidget spinners didn’t enter my field of vision until earlier this year. By the time I’d heard about them, I had already invested in this crowdfunded pen. Now I feel a little dirty, being part of a fad, but this is so much better and more practical than a spinner because it’s a pen.

I won’t make this post any longer by drawing out the conclusion, and instead just say that since I’ve noticed that I’m not the only writer who has a plethora of notebooks, feel free to show me yours!

A New Day

I’ve been ready to write this post for about a week now. It’s the first one in almost a year and a half, so I knew it had to be epic, witty, or at least insightful. But I don’t want to write that post. I do want to address it, but in simple words. Though knowing myself as I do, it still may not be short.

At the beginning of last year, I submitted my first novel to publishers, after spending several years creating it. Without knowing if that first novel would be worth publishing, I tried to move on to revising my second novel. Then, I got a job. It was a part-time weekend job at first, working as a game master at an escape room company, but quickly became more than that, with sporadic hours. These two things together pulled me away from my regular writing work, which I’d been fairly consistent with for a few years (minus short hiatuses now and then).

In August last year, I changed to full-time with my job and became a manager. That only solidified my lack of time and mental energy to do any writing. I remember hoping that November, which would bring NaNoWriMo, would help me jump-start back into my writing.

Some time during all of this, I got a couple of rejection letters for my novel, but I was so caught up in how life was going at the time, I barely registered them.

Then in September, my dad had a heart attack and subsequent 6-bypass surgery. He’s doing well now, but was very close to death for about a week (not to be too dramatic). As NaNo approached, I decided to rebel a bit and write about the time he was in the hospital, both because he had a strong desire to know what had happened, and because I thought it might be cathartic for me.

I had a difficult time with the writing, and didn’t even get all of the events written, but I did finish NaNoWriMo. Unfortunately, because of my full-time job and the nature of my writing, NaNo did not help me return to my writing.

Fast forward almost a year, and I am now working 20 hours a week (approximately) at the same job, now as Director of Operations. The anniversary of my dad’s heart attack was last month, and he and my mom brought up the writing I said I was doing for NaNoWriMo last year. My dad has been trying to remember everything that happened during his 3-week hospital stay, and hopes that what I had written down would help.

It was still in “NaNo-form,” though, which means typos, things marked for deletion, and generally just hard to read. So I started going back through it, trying to put it in some semblance of a readable form, reading it along the way myself. While doing that, I started going back to other things I’ve written.

Over the course of the 3 weeks, I’ve read through just about everything I’ve written in the last 10 years, from the 2 complete novels, to partially drafted novels, to writing practice, drabbles, ideas, and even some of the fanfiction I wrote early on. I’m starting to have the itch to get back into it, and in some ways, I feel like I’ve just popped my head out of the cave I’ve been hunkered in for the last 17 months.

Going forward, I am going to work on writing as often as I can. I’m not going to pretend that I will be able to do writing work every day like I used to strive for. But even for the last week or so, I’ve already been writing out an outline for a story I’m not sure I want to write, but can’t avoid thinking about, so needed to at least get it down. That passion for just getting the words out is something I really miss, and I want to embrace it.

I think one of the things that disappoints me most about my time in the cave is that I barely remember participating in NaNoWriMo last year. I didn’t blog about it at all; I barely even finished. I enjoy going back later and reading through certain blog posts, remembering my writing journey, but 2016 NaNoWriMo is just a blank spot in my mind. I will be more deliberate this year.

My job, even at 20 hours a week, is still sporadic in the time those hours are put in. As Director of Operations, I am “on” from 9am until 11pm, 6 days a week, meaning that any time someone needs something from me, I’m generally expected to be available and respond. If I want to spend uninterrupted time with my family, I often have to schedule it.

I do enjoy my job. I design, implement, and modify escape rooms and get to be part of many other creative endeavors that our company is always working on. But I know that one of the reasons I do so well at that job is because, in my heart, I am a writer! 

i am a writer

This is from NaNoToons 2015. I don’t even remember last year’s NaNoToons…

For the approaching NaNoWriMo, I want to get back to traditional roots and write a new work of fiction. To do that, I have to sort through ideas I already have, see if any of them are ready to be expanded to a full outline, or decide to start something from scratch. Today begins NaNo prep season (I’m not sure how official that is, but October 1st always feels like the beginning of NaNo prep time to me). I am all in.