Olive Traveler’s Notebook

My new Traveler's Notebook arrived yesterday, the Olive limited edition, and I took some time tonight to customise it.

That's my favourite part of starting a new Traveler's Notebook – setting it up, making it my own – and the main reason I enjoy them so much. This is my fourth TN. I have a Camel limited edition from their 5 year anniversary, a black one, and a pocket one. The camel is my most used
one.
First I decorated the notebook it came with, using Windsor Newton gouache. I love ivy and the greenish tinge if the cover inspired me.

I added a leaf charm to the bookmark and slotted in another notebook — an old Midori sketchbook I had laying around.

That's it, now all that remains is to use it.

P.S. I read a review in some site that these TNs have a suede like feeling to them, but they feel like a normal TN to me.
P. P. S. These covers don't stay pristine for long (and that's their charm), so if you're precious about your things, these aren't for you.

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Olive Traveler’s Notebook

This week’s recommendations

  • Book: The Night Watch, Sergei Lukyanenko. An urban fantasy that has restored my faith in the genre. Very Russian — melancholy, self-reflective, intelligently and subtly written — and very good. Lukyanenko takes Russian folklore and breaths new, modern life to it in a set of three interconnecting stories that have a fresh take on the concepts of good and evil.
  • Podcast: Writing Excuses. This 15 minutes long podcast is all the inspiration I need lately to get my ass into a chair and write. What more do you need? (They need a new, more modern website, but the podcast is great, trust me).
  • Tea: it’s been too hot and I’ve been too lazy to drink much of it now, except the occasional cup of Fortnum and Mason’s Assam Superb in the morning. A fabulous Assam, but still too expensive to wholeheartedly recommend.
  • Also: finally saw Wonder Woman and loved it. A fresh, nuanced take on a superhero movie that doesn’t apologize for having a female lead.

Jaffa street view
Old Jaffa record store baking in the sun

 

This week’s recommendations

This week

Writing: Working on the outline of my next novel, and planning the second draft of my first one. Tough work, but there is progress, and progress is what I’m looking for.

Reading: Finished the delightful second Vinyl Detective instalment, “The Vinyl Detective — The Run-Out Groove“, by Andrew Cartmel. Enjoyed it very much, and can recommend it if you’re looking for an intelligent pick-me-up. On the verge of finishing “The Night Watch,” by Sergei Lukyanenko. A very Russian, darker but not dark-for-dark’s sake urban fantasy that is well written and sophisticated. Nothing like the childish dark urban fantasy novels that I’ve read lately.

Running: Got back on track this week. Getting myself used to progressively longer runs, and finding out that they aren’t so bad after all.

Drawing: except for a few quick doodles, nothing this week. I’ll try to get a quick watercolour in this weekend.

Also, if you are even a slight fan of Jane Austen, or like improv comedy, you will love this 30min comedy special by BBC Radio4: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08tvyw0

Latest flea market finds: two tins, one a WWII US Army First Aid Packet copper tin, and the other a British made Dunlop “Midget Repair Outfit” bicycle repair tin.

This week

When things don’t go entirely as planned

Several things didn’t go as planned this week, as I had a few unforeseen schedule changes, a bit of bad luck with my running, and a pretty bad day at work near the end of the week. As a result, both my running and my writing suffered (I missed a writing day and my long run is going to be 6k instead of 10K).

So what do you do when things don’t go entirely as planned?

Get back on the horse — so you missed a day, or didn’t make your daily word count, so what? Projects that are worth doing don’t live and die on a day (looking at you NaNoWriMo), but on accumulated body of work done over several weeks, months and years. Do you know what is entirely unhelpful to achieving that work? Getting so caught up in you missing a day that you decide to give up entirely. Get back on the horse, get back to fulfilling your daily goal today instead of fixating on what happened yesterday. .

Don’t go into a spiral of trying to make up for the lost work — that’s a great way to set yourself up to fail. If you set 500 words or a 5K run for today, you probably aren’t going to be able to do that and make up for the 500 words and 6K that you missed yesterday. So then you beat yourself up again, feel crummy, and set yourself up to fail by dragging more and more work with you from day to day until you give up. If you missed a day, then you missed a day. Move on.

Focus on what did happen — in my case, my reading this week sky-rocketted, and I spent more time with my family. That doesn’t make up for everything else, but it is something positive that I’m glad happened.

Partial work is better than no work — I ran a 0.5k this week, which sucked, but was better than nothing. There were also days when I wrote only 20 or 30 words. That’s not great, but its better than nothing, and every little thing can keep the habit going.

Check what went wrong and when, and see if you can learn from it for the future — were you too ambitious? Do you need to rework your plan to account for something that you couldn’t foresee when you first built it? Don’t make excuses, but do be honest and make some changes if necessary.

Leave enough ‘breathing room’ in your schedule for these kind of off days — this was my biggest mistake, and the one is going to be hardest to fix, long term. My running schedule can (still) suffer a few delays, but I’m prepping for a race in the fall, and I can’t really afford to leave things like my long run for the evening of the last day in the week. Earlier is better, and making sure that your goals are achievable even if you aren’t at peak performance is important — especially for endurance sports like running and novel writing.

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Some beautiful dahlias to make up for the slightly depressing topic.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going out for a run.

When things don’t go entirely as planned

This week’s recommendations

Podcast: Cortex, with Myke Hurley and CGP Grey. A two guys talking about their work process, their workflows, the tools they use, and their respective businesses in a surprisingly entertaining way. Worth listening to from the beginning, but you can also dive in to the latest episode.

Book: A Horse Walks into a Bar, by David Grossman. Grossman is my favourite Israeli author, and one of my favourite authors in general. A Horse Walks into a Bar just won the Man Booker award, but it is something of a tough read. If that doesn’t appeal to you, try some of his more optimistic books, Someone to Run With (a great YA novel for teenagers and up, and a beautiful love story in and of itself), and the Zig Zag Kid (a magical realism novel that is also suited for practically all ages).

Tea: Yunnan Sourcing’s Imperial Dragon Well Tea From Hangzhou, which is a sweet and refreshing Dragon Well (green) tea that is incredibly affordable for the quality you get. Put a few leaves in a glass tumbler and top-up with hot (but not boiling) water for an all day treat.

And also: Reminding myself not to take old fools to heart. They too shall pass.

 

 

This week’s recommendations

Brain dump

A few great things to read:


What else?

  • Drafting the last chapter of my novel. Writing this chapter is pure indulgence. 
  • runDisney virtual 5k race medals have arrived. Going to earn my first medal today. 
  • My Nock co Lanier briefcase arrived and I’ve started using it. I may do a review after using it for a few days. For now it carries my iPad Pro 9.7”, a Moleskine large notebook, and some loose papers. 
  • Something dreadful is attacking my plants. Investigating…
Brain dump

Top 5 pens

In the recent Pen Addict Podcast, Brad and Myke discussed their top 5 pens, and that made me think about my top 5 pens. Do I even have a top 5? I never actually ranked my pens until now — I just use them.

After a bit of thought, I came up with this list of my favourite five pens. These are all perfect for long writing sessions, but they’re not necessarily the best for begninners, or for showing off your handwriting, so take that into consideration before you purchase any of these:

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Nakaya Cigar Piccolo Negoro Kise Hon Kataji black/red with elastic flexible medium rhodium nib — that’s quite a mouthful for a relatively small pen. This pen was made to order for me, and I had to wait quite a while and pay quite a bit for it, but it was totally worth it. The nib is a dream, and like no other nib that I own — it’s springy. It isn’t a wet noodle by any stretch, but shows a good amount of line variation, is very comfortable to write with, and is super easy to clean. The most beautiful pen that I own, in a very understated way, it’s the best all-rounder in this list.

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Parker 51 — I have quite a collection of these vintage classics, and I have yet to be disappointed with one. They somehow manage to make my handwriting really good looking, and they are fun to write with (though a bit of a pain to clean). Not the prettiest of pens, but I love their sleek looks, and they are workhorses.

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Franklin Cristoff Model 66 Stabilis Antique Glass with a 1.1 stub converted to an eyedropper pen — this pen is gorgeous, comfortable for long term writing, helps show off ink (both because you can see it sloshing around and since it lays down a significant line), and makes even the simplist handwriting look great without going overboard in terms of line thickness. It’s also super simple to clean out (though beware of staining inks), and the nib is a stunner, especially for a steel nib.

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Ti Arto with a Uni-ball UMR-85N refill— this has now become my daily journaling pen, and although it isn’t a fountain pen it is comfortable for long writing sessions, mainly because it has a relatively thick barrel and is relatively light for a machined pen. It writes well on all types of paper, including Moleskines, is relatively cheap, and accepts a dizzing array of refills. This is a pen that I don’t mind slipping into my pocket or tossing into my bag — it’s built to last and can take the punishment.

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Lamy 2000 Fine — this pen is not without faults, as the little metal prongs that hold the cap in place can get in the way of your grip, and my old 2000 is cracking in several places (ugly-fixed with superglue), but I still love it. The gold nib allows for just enough line variation to make it perfect for both writing and sketching, and the capacity is just fantastic. I’m also a big fan of its understated looks, but if you’re looking for something with more zing, this may not be the pen for you. I also bought another one, in extra-fine (after my old 2000 started cracking), and I have to say that its nib isn’t as good as my old 2K. So I’d recommend it, but only if you’re willing to tune it (either yourself, or take it to a nibsmith), if necessary.

These are my workhorses, and at any given time at least two or three of these are in use. Experimenting with pens in nice, but when you’re working on writing a novel or have a good chunk of writing to do, the snazzy wet noodles and music nibs give way to more dependable choices that are also always a joy to use.

Top 5 pens