Hello and welcome to my creative writing blog. As always, I’ll start with this week’s statistics and then a little chat.
The weekly statistics*
Work on the first draft of my novel:
Total words for the week: 2,993
Total words in draft to date: 62,918
Number of days worked on novel this week: 6
Minimum words per day this week: 0
Maximum words per day this week: 803
Other writing completed:
Blog posts for Pam Alison Knits: 3
None; it would be too cheeky to suggest that reading a 1973 copy of Beauty in Vogue counts as research.
So, I skipped one evening’s writing session, but I am content with the reason for my lapse and my aim to write a minimum of 500 words a day needs must have an element of flexibility. I did find the writing a little heavygoing this week. Although the conflict I’m currently navigating in my story is necessary, I don’t find it easy to deal with and I am struggling with the first rule of story-telling: show, don’t tell.
On Saturday evening I came to the end of my current writing notebook and it’s now time to move into a new one which is proving to be a dilemma. There are so many options, too many options, and I am not in a decision-making frame of mind. For example, I have an exercise book which I began back in 2017, abandoned for two years, picked up again and then abandoned a second time exactly where the centre staples are. My practical self urges me to use up the remaining pages in there before seeking a completely fresh book; to be thrifty and save the planet, to believe that my conscience doesn’t allow me to love an unfinished book.
At the same time, I have a mountain of new books lying around which I could move into. I have an A5 Rhodiarama notebook filled with my preferred cream-coloured lined paper, the cover my favourite combination of sapphire and orange. If not that, then perhaps an A5-ish Rhodia headbound noteblock would work; it would be easy to take notes on the fly with this and the paper is almost as good as the notebook pages. Yet would the binding at the top of the page annoy me? I’m afraid I would end up detaching the used pages and storing them outside the pad, and that is not what I want for my writing notes. I like being able to flip back and read previous notes as the book fills up.
Another idea is to use a loose-leaf discbound system, the one I actually set up a few weeks ago for this specific purpose. Unstarted, this does not feel quite right to me when I pick it up and pretend to write in it. I cannot define, even to myself, in what way it feels wrong, yet it does not inspire me to write, to hold it close, I do not feel any emotional attachment to it. I wonder if it is the paper I used and I think perhaps if I filled it with my favourite disc-punched paper I would suddenly love it and yet in all probability I would not. I also have my Filofax looseleaf notebooks or I could re-purpose my William Hannah leather discbound notebook and use it purely for writing, moving my planner and general notes into… my imagination fails to pursue this thought any further.
The fact is, I do not know which book I should use, but there are a few things which I do know, a few criteria the notebook must fill:
- A5 size – this is my Goldilocks paper size; it fits in my bags whilst providing enough space to write
- Fountain-pen friendly paper – Rhodia, Clairefontaine, William Hannah, Mark and Fold; all these have passed the test and gained the 16SixtyWriter seal of approval
- Lined paper – oh, not only lined, but with a line spacing of 7-8mm, I am fussy about my line spacing
At this point, I am going to take a break and see if I can make a decision.
Imagine me now, sitting with notebooks piled around me, pondering each, seeing their advantages and then, all too soon, being confronted by their shortcomings. For most, the single, simple disadvantage is the most compelling: I am not a fan of looseleaf systems. This seems strange to me because I surround myself with looseleaf notebooks, refill paper, folders; I drool over displays of them in shops. I spend more time than a person reasonably should watching videos of others with their Filofaxes and their Happy Planners, constantly moving bits from here over there and from over there to somewhere else. Yet, of all the options I have to hand, I am moving from one softcover, bound notebook into another softcover, bound notebook because I want to anchor my ideas to the sequence in which I thought them, there is chaos aplenty in this world, I need my notes to be a fixed point.
Having decided, at last, that the book I will be using is the Rhodiarama, there is one final preparation to be made and that is to write a quote into the front. Last time, at the beginning of this year, I chose one of my favourite passages from John Fowles’ book “The Magus”. I caught myself this morning looking at that passage again and considering it for the new notebook; they are words that have been etched into my psyche for the better part of my life. This time, instead, I will use a piece that I wrote a few years ago in a brief stint of doing something that should have been the Morning Pages espoused by Julia Cameron, but really wasn’t. Now, I just have to decide which colour ink to use, and which pen to fill with it which, as I read this back, is starting to sound a lot like procrastination. It’s not. New notebooks are important things and they like to be approached with deference; the fun doesn’t start until the ink goes on the first page.
- For the purpose of the statistics, my weeks run from Sunday morning to Saturday night, and that’s why these blog posts will appear each Sunday.
- I use Scrivener by Literature and Latte for my creative writing and take my statistics from there.
- The working title of my novel is The Pen Emporium, it’s a fictional romance set in a small English town in contemporary times but referencing a trip to New York in the early 1970s.