My Ideal Idea Book – What’s Yours?

Most writers have some method for recording ideas, making location notes, or maybe even sketching out a scene.  What’s yours? Mine must be portable as I never know when a good idea will start rattling around in my head.  I go for walks and just think about my current project.  Scene ideas will pop into my head, a whole new story idea might come up, or maybe I’ll have a great dialog idea.  I’ve got to write it down.

For most, the tools are a notebook and ball-point pen, though I’m not alone in being particular about my writing utensils.  What makes me anguish a bit more than most over this idea is that in addition to being a writer, I’ve got a fountain pen fetish.  If I’m going to put ink to paper; it’s got to be done with a fountain pen.

Fountain pens generate special challenges.  Those of us afflicted refer to the perfect triad of paper, pen and ink as though it were some magic potion, and I suppose it is, as a great pen only writes well with the proper ink on the proper paper and finding this combination is much of the fun of writing with fountain pens.

I’ve tried many combinations and I’ve found the ideal combination for my needs.  The goal is actually more complicated than just finding pen, ink, and paper that work together as I’m a guy.  I have no purse.  Some might say I have no brain.  So in addition to the general need for pen/ink/paper compatibility, I need:

1) The pen needs to be cheap because I’m prone to losing them.

2) The notebook must be small enough to fit in my back pocket.

3) The ink needs to dry quickly as I need to be able to make notes and shove the notebook back in my pocket without smearing.

Here’s my solution.  All of this stuff, except for the Moleskine notebook, is available from my favorite fountain pen store, Goulet Pens.   Nicest people on the planet and they provide a fantastic online shopping experience.

Cheap Pen & Quick-Drying Ink

Platinum Preppy pens are simply the best bargain ever.  With a street price around four bucks, they provide a smooth-writing pen and a natural for a portable, cheap pen system.   If you lose one it’s not a burden to replace it.

Platinum cartridges have a small ball inside them that help to keep ink flow even when the pen hangs out in my pockets for long periods of time.  The problem is the ink, which isn’t bad, but I’m fussy about my ink.  Goulet Pens has a tutorial that talks about converting a Preppy to an eye-dropper pen (you fill the entire barrel with ink) and I’ve done that.  While I’ve never had one leak, I don’t like the idea of carrying them in my pants pocket and elimination of the cartridges also means elimination of the small ball in the cartridge.

But it’s easy enough to use a syringe to fill any cartridge and that’s the approach I use.  My ink of choice for portability is Noodler’s Bernanke Blue (also comes in black).  It flows well from Preppies and it dries almost as quickly as I can lay it down.

Small Notebook size

The critical dimension for my portable notebook is that it must fit in my back pocket.  Thus, Levis determines my notebook size.  I use a Moleskine notebook as it fits well.  I have tried a Rhodia Webnotebook as the paper is superior but it’s just enough larger that it’s uncomfortable to carry on my butt.  If that’s not a problem for you, I highly recommend this notebook.  So, for me, Moleskine it is and my ideas are captured and I get to enjoy writing with a fountain pen.  What do you use to record your thoughts?

 

 

 

 

This Was A Good Day

I spent the morning revising the final chapters for my upcoming novel, Her Book of Shadows.  I really enjoy the revision process as all of my ideas really come together during this time.

And so I was pretty happy already, when someone knocked on the door.  It was Mr. Postman and he had a box for me.  It was from Goulet Pens, those guys I talked about a few days ago.  It was a small order but I’m sort of a nut over pens and paper so I was excited.

As is typical of Goulet Pens, the package is bullet-proof.  I think Brian and Rachel own an interest in in a bubble-pack company but I’m not complaining.  What it means to me is that everything arrives in pristine condition and I get to burn a few calories digging my way into the the stuff I ordered.  Brian could teach a thing or two to other people who ship products to me.

This order was only two items, a small Rhodia Dot Pad and a spiffy Rhodia Webbie.  I love the small Dot Pads as simply scratch pads, mostly because the sheets tear off cleanly and can be used for sketching as well as writing.

I tried Rhodia notebooks a couple years ago when I got frustrated with my Moleskines, whose paper had gotten flaky, at least for fountain pen use.  The problem at the time was two fold.  Rhodia insisted on putting their logo on each page.  This was a small problem and I could have overlooked it.  A bigger problem was that the darn things wouldn’t lay flat and it drove me nuts.  I used that notebook for about a week and pitched it.

The new Webbies, though, are wonderful.  They use 90-gram Clairefontaine paper which is my favorite and they’ve removed their name from the paper.  Most important, however, is the new Webbies lay flat…flat…flat.  As they have always been, Webbie covers are beautiful.  I love mine.  Yes, indeed, it’s been a good day.

Cheers — Larry

larry@larrydmarshall.com

 

Do You Know About Goulet Pens?

I live in the frozen north – in Quebec.  But my favorite place to shop for pens and paper is in Virginia.  If not for the Internet, it would be a long walk.  The place is Goulet Pens.

They stock my favorite Rhodia and Clairfontaine journals and notepads.  They stock a wide array of fountain pens, though mostly those that are reasonably priced.  Oh…and the array of inks they sell is to die for.  I sometimes play with their “Swab Shop” which is an online facility that lets me compare colors of all of their inks even though I tell myself I don’t need any new ink.  It’s just fun.  And, of course, one can never have too many inks.

But it’s not their products that excite me about Goulet Pens. It’s Rachel and Brian Goulet and their approach to business.  They’re not just selling pens and paper.  They LOVE pens and paper and they LOVE their customers.  Well, maybe that last thing is a bit strong but they sure act like they like them.

Each week they conduct “Write Time”, which is a live-streamed video and associated chat room. They discuss new products, answer questions, and laugh and joke with their customers.  It’s a hoot.

Brian and Rachel also produce a great blog called Ink Nouveau where they provide a lot of great information about fountain pens, and the various paper products they sell.  They have a YouTube channel where you can access a growing catalog of videos (currently 87 of them), and each provides valuable information about paper and pen products, tricks for maintaining and improving pens, etc.  In short, they work hard for their customers and regularly bring a couple of bright-eyed smiles to our computer screens.  We all smile back.

I’m having one small problem with one of their products, though.  I just received an order and they included a freebie.  It was one of their new Goulet Pens bookmarks.  Just the thing, they say, for marking your place in a book.  I guess it works ok but I’m having trouble getting used to using it.

Cheers — Larry

larry@larrydmarshall.com