My Triumphant Return

I’m finally back from the dead! I apologize for the long absence. This semester was really difficult for me. Between dealing with my student job, annoying roommate, and dreaded homework, it was hard to keep up with my blog. I focused mostly on new extracurriculars and keeping my grades up. Unfortunately, all my creative outlets fell by the wayside, including writing this blog. 😦 However, I did find a fun new hobby: art!!!!

I always liked drawing characters from the stories I wrote. But when I got older, I was intimidated by my amazing artist friends and stopped drawing. I never really improved past stick figures. But this year, I took an intro art class and drew five pages in a sketchbook every week! I was drawing much more than ever before. One of my aforementioned artist friends also encouraged my art. This time, I didn’t let insecurity stop me but kept on trying. In six months, I definitely improved! But I still have a long way to go. Maybe later I’ll show an album of my progress. Here’s one drawing I made recently:

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I copied this from one of Albrecht Durer’s prints, where St. John is forced to eat a book by a floating head???

With the paycheck from my job, I also bought Copic markers!!! For those who don’t know, they are alcohol markers that can be blended together to make watercolor-like drawings. They are amazing but so expensive. I wish I got a whole set in Japan, but unfortunately I didn’t have enough room in my suitcase. 😦 So in December I picked out 45 individual markers for around $260. Yes expensive I know. But I already had other markers I collected over the years. My collection is now around 75 markers. I’ve wanted them for years now so I think that was a paycheck well spent.

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In other news, here are some of my currently inked pens:

My current favorite ink is the Kingdom Note Thysanostoma thysanuran ink, aka the scientific name for jellyfish!!!! It’s a vibrant purple that leans more pink than blue. In my broad Sailor Nib, it shows lots of shading. It even has a hint of black sheen on Tomoe River paper! I’m going to treasure this ink because I don’t know if I’ll ever get it again.

I wrote some stories, but mostly for my creative writing classes. However, I hit the 250 page midpoint of my Hippo Noto! Despite my initial concerns, the spine did hold up. Some of the sections felt loose but didn’t fall out. As time went on, it became harder to keep the pages flat. I’m ready to move on to the next notebook but I still have 250 more pages to go. My other journals were 200-215 pages so this sure is a change. Besides the Hippo Noto are my two Field Notes I use to jot down lists and ideas.

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Here are the notebooks I filled with school notes! For the first half of the semester, I wrote with fine tip gel pens, then switched to fountain pens. On the left are two 80 page Kokuyo Soft Ring notebooks and on the right are two Kokuyo Campus notebooks. I still need to write a review on the former. I obtained mine on my Japan trip  but I didn’t get enough. Turns out the ones I have aren’t available online to ship to the US at all. 😦

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I have tons of new blog ideas that I hope to bring to you soon. Look out for a review of a local stationery store and my thoughts on the Stalogy365, Taroko Enigma, Story Supply Co Morning, Studio C and other notebooks!

The Life and Death of my 2018 Nanowrimo Novel

Dear Nanowrimo 2018,

I’m sorry, but it isn’t happening this year. For some reason, my last two Novembers weren’t busy at all. In 2016 it was the senioritis and existential dread of the presidental election that gave me the motivation to win. And in 2017, my unusually easy classes and lack of a social life allowed me to write a sequel. This year… I’m swamped with school, work, friends, and trying to carve out time for myself. My outline for Nano fell by the wayside. I think that’s a good thing. So here are my reasons to justify quitting Nano three days in:

  1. Instead of focusing on a single, all-consuming task, I’ve diversified. What I’ve improved at this semester:
  • drawing, thanks to my art class I realized I actually have some skill!
  • writing short stories, not novels
  • keeping a daily diary
  • making friends, going out with them, being a normal human being?
  • touch typing
  • holding a steady job and learning to save my money, banishing micro transactions to the abyss
  • procrastinating on writing stationery reviews, I’M SORRY OK

Yes, I wish I had time to write a full novel. But that means I would have to put aside my other commitments.

2. I don’t know if writing so rapidly actually produces quality work. It’s been two years since I wrote my first novel and it’s still a giant mess. The prose is choppy, there are gaping plotholes everywhere, and I made the big mistake of starting in the middle of the plot, getting to the end, then writing the beginning. DON’T DO THAT YOU WILL REGRET IT. I think my novel would have turned out better if I slowed down and concentrated on quality not quantity. Right now, the story is horrible and I’m not quite sure how to fix it. As a result, I might scrap or rewrite all 120,000 WORDS I wrote. That’s not going to be fun. O_O

3. I learned how to finish a novel. I proved myself, twice, that I can commit to writing at least 50,000 words. Before 2016, I never wrote more than 10,000 words. My stories fizzled out after a few pages. So I should be proud of how far I’ve come. I don’t need Nanowrimo anymore to inspire me to finish. And that’s the beauty of this hellish month-long torture exercise.

Goodbye, Nanowrimo. I’ve learned so much from you but now it’s time to put you aside. But I’ll always remember that sweet satisfaction of hitting my daily word count.

-Sara

How to Keep a Diary In These Fraught Times

Lately, the world is feeling more crazy than usual. I doubt I’m the only one that feels this way. But one of the best ways to unwind is to keep a diary!

I have to admit, this is a recent habit of mine. I only started writing in a diary consistently three years ago. There are some failed attempts shoved in the back of my closet, but we don’t talk about those wretched journals. 😉 Here are the supplies you need:

  1. One object in which you can write upon (ex: notebook, stack of printer paper stapled together, the pristine walls of your house)
  2. An instrument to write with (ex: pen, pencil, quill, stick?)

And that’s it! The next step is to write consistently. Your entries don’t have to be daily, but try to set aside a few minutes every week to sit down and write. Use those extra minutes spent browsing on your phone to do something productive instead.

Your diary doesn’t have to be an exact recording of everything you did that day. Unless you really want to???? Instead, here are some other ideas. What’s on your mind today? What are you grateful for? What do you hate? What’s your best vacation memory? Do you have an unpopular opinion? Are there any changes you want to make in your life? I have a great list of writing prompts in this post, if you need more ideas.

A diary is simply a place for you to put down your thoughts, in however form they take shape. I’ve doodled, collaged and pasted newspaper clippings in my diaries. It’s also not a contest of how pretty your pages are. Nobody is going to see it except for you. If you enjoy drawing then go for it! If not, don’t worry.

Diaries are also great therapists. Write something that infuriates or saddens you! Then you have a few options:

  1.  Keep it as is
  2. Tear out the pages, dispose of them however you wish (shred em!!!)
  3. Cover up the pages with pieces of paper and tape
  4. Make the offending pages into art. I remember seeing somewhere on reddit that someone collaged and watercolored over an entry in their diary. Turn a painful memory into something beautiful. 🙂

I hope you enjoyed this guide. Happy diary writing!

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Some of my amazing notebooks I use in college

D.C Pen Show Experience and Japan!

This was my third year visiting the D.C. Pen Show! It’s just as exciting and overwhelming as ever! I bought so much stuff, but tried to not buy Japanese products. I’ll have the opportunity to buy them in Tokyo, hopefully for a lower price.

Here are the pictures of my haul:

Some of my favorite purchases were:

  • Jinhao shark pen
  • Midori Grain notepad
  • Story Supply Co. SMR edition
  • Oasis notebook (review in progress)
  • Colorverse Able and Miss Baker
  • J. Herbin Vert de Gris
  • Kaweco AL Sport Rose Gold
  • Cute pen roll!
  • I’m in Narita airport right now, very exhausted but excited. It’s too bad that there’s a typhoon/heavy rain in the weather forecast. I’m totally fine with spending a few days inside at museums and stationery shops. 🙂
  • Maruman Spiral Note Basic Review

    The Maruman Spiral Note Basic has been recommended as the best fountain pen friendly spiral notebook for students. I mostly agree! However, there are some caveats that make it hard for me to use it with fountain pens. Warning: I am a side-writing leftie, so what bothered me about this notebook may not apply to you! I just wanted to show a left-handed perspective in my review, especially for students who take notes quickly.

    I am on a neverending quest to find fountain pen friendly notebooks for taking notes in lecture! The triumvirate of cheap, light and fountain pen friendly has defeated many contenders. Brad from the Pen Addict suggested the Spiral Note Basic was good for students. So I waited for them to restock on Jetpens and ordered five for the spring semester. After several months, I have finally collected my thoughts.

    Specs:

    • comes in lined, graph, or blank
    • B5 size
    • $5.70 on Jetpens
    • 70 gsm
    • Perforated pages!

    Appearance:

    The cover looks rather plain, a brown cardboard cover with space to write down your class. It’s B5 size, which is 6.9 x 9.8 inches. For those who haven’t seen that size before, it’s like a taller, slimmer composition book. The cover has held up for months in my cavernous backpack. Only the edges are rumpled, but no pages have ripped. It is spiral bound with strong metal rings that haven’t bent out of place yet. The Spiral Note lays completely flat and folds back, essential for students who are forced to use tiny desks. The pages are all perforated. None of them became loose but they could be removed cleanly without any damage.

    Paper:

    The paper is the star of the show. It is 70 gsm and an off-white color. Its light gray lines are 6.5mm, which fits more writing. It has 32 lines on each page. There are margins at the top and a space to number your notes and write the date! The paper is the smoothest I have ever felt, even more so than Tomoe River! It’s relaxing to run my hand over a blank page. The paper is thin but has less show through than the Kokuyo Campus. Once I write on the back, the show through doesn’t bother me.

    For my purposes, the paper is too smooth. Softer pencils like the Blackwing 602 feel slippery on the paper. My Papermate Flairs, especially the Black, looked faded and washed out. I liked my gel pens, like the Uniball Signo 207, on this paper the most. The tip is slightly scratchy, so it slides on the paper less. Papermate Ink Joys were bright and vibrant but did take some time to dry. Fountain pens feel amazing on the paper! It was pleasant to write on, with no feedback or fibers catching the nib. I saw hidden sheen on this paper I couldn’t see on Tomoe River! Robert Oster Frankly Blue had a reddish halo, while Kyo no Oto Adzukiiro gained golden sheen. Monteverde Ruby looked vivid and the shading was beautiful. This can easily compete with Tomoe River as the smoothest, highest-quality paper I’ve used.

    However, there were some problems for me.  When I could slow down, like to write this review, my Pelikan M605 felt pleasant. But usually, I write fast, using a Lamy Safari M nib or Pilot Metropolitan M nib. I write 5-8 pages per lecture, and quickly! I felt my nib was out of control when I wrote at my normal speed like it might fly off the page. I want to keep on using fountain pens and see if I get used to the slickness.

    It took longer than I hoped to dry. As a student who takes copious amounts of notes, this is a downside for me. I’m a left-handed side writer so my hand drags across newly written words. I try to avoid smearing the ink, but on this paper it’s inevitable. Fountain pens, Uniball Signos and Papermate Ink Joys were more likely to smear. However, if you’re right-handed the long dry times may not bother you. This is another leftie thing, but the spiral binding annoys me. The metal digs into my hand when I write, making note-taking a somewhat painful experience. I forgot how much I loved the sturdy glue binding of the Kokuyo Campus.

    Spiral Note Basic vs. Kokuyo Campus:

    Now how do they compare to my favorite, the glue bound Kokuyo Campus B5? Kokuyo Campus paper absorbs ink quickly, but it doesn’t show off the qualities of the ink as well. They are much lighter, with only 30 pages. I can carry 3 of them without my backpack feeling heavy. I go through 2-3 of them for my more intensive classes, which is both nice and annoying. Nice in that I feel accomplished for finishing a notebook and annoying because I have to search for my other notebooks when I’m studying for exams! I’ve been using the same Spiral Notes the whole semester, instead of going through 2-3 thinner notebooks. But carrying 2-3 Spiral Notes is heavy! My campus is huge and getting from my dorm to class takes 15+ minutes. I pack lightly to avoid back pain, but Spiral Notes always add too much weight to my bag.

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    The contenders…

    Using Spiral Notes is a better deal for me because it has 80 pages, so 160 pages front and back. They are heavier but quite compact. I bought five Spiral Notes for $28.50 and free shipping. On Amazon, 5-packs of Kokuyo Campus fluctuate from $10-12. I bought three packs. So I guess Spiral Notes are the better deal?

    The Maruman Spiral Note Basic is great for high school and college students who want to use their fountain pens for taking notes! However, for lefties and people who are particular about paper, be more cautious. I’m going to keep using them because they’re the best student-friendly notebooks out there.

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