Tomoe River Paper

A few years ago, when I first came across it, it was hard to find a notebook that I liked that contained Tomoe River paper.

It’s thinner than any other paper, it’s strong, and it doesn’t bleed through. One of those “you believe it when you use it” things.

My best option, one that I still use, and can recommend is the “SevenSeas” notebook from NanamiPaper.

If that sounds obscure, it’s because this used to be the only way: an “independent binder” procuring the paper, and assembling a notebook.

However, it is much easier to find alternative today.

JetPens carries an alternative, the Kanso Noto (320 pages for $20)

GouletPens carries another alternative (160 pages for $16)

More than any of this, searching on Amazon (the very definition of mainstream today) shows a bunch of results (will not link to any here).

No more excuses not to try out this pretty remarkable paper 🙂

A decade (nearly) of Lamy

Lamy Safari, Charcoal Black, Fine Nib

I’ve had this pen for about nine years now, which is longer than I’ve had my laptop, or my phone, or my current pair of jeans, or my bed, or the tv on the wall, or the lamp next to me, or … you get the idea.

I think I’ve mentioned recommendations for fountain pens before, but I’ll repeat this anyway: it’s hard to beat this cheap and reliable workhorse, the good old Lamy Safari (not quite old, though, there are new versions available)

I have two of these that I keep filled with (usually) black and blue ink, and I have secretly wished that they stop working, or even just degrade in quality just a bit, to give me an excuse to try and buy one of the more expensive fountain pens I’ve kept in my wish-list for years, but … that just hasn’t happened yet!

Tip on buying: if you’d like to skip paying Amazon, two great places for “stuff like this” are Jetpens and GouletPens.

Why u no have footnotes, Medium?

Yuck, footnotes simply don’t render in Medium the way they do in WordPress.

I have no clue why this is so — it seems a terrible limitation in my opinion.

There are notes, which are a poor substitute. I … don’t think I’m going to change my use of footnotes, which means I have to be okay with the crappy way they render in Medium. 🤷‍♂️

On writing instruments

After some trials over the past five years or so, I’ve found that I like to (physically, with pen and paper) write, I like to write a lot, and I like to write in a certain way.

In terms of paper, I seem to like either the soft, thin extreme of Tomoe River paper, or the semi-rough paper of a Baron Fig, or (more recently) Midori MD1.

The paper must have a dot grid — or, as in the case of the Midori MD, a solid grid is find, as long as it’s only lightly colored. Blank paper is no good for me, and lined paper is no good for me.

The only pens I keep around any more are either fountain pens or (for daily carry, and office use) gel pens2. For fountain pens, I have the Lamy Safari I started with3, a bunch of Platinum Preppy pens4, a Faber Castell Ambition5, and my current favorite: the TWSBI ECO6, which is my recommendation for a “sweet spot” in quality and price7.

There are plenty of more expensive pens around, but they’re going to remain in my wishlist, because I can’t imagine getting bored of what I have anytime soon.

As for the experience of writing with pen and paper, I think we need more of it, not less. There is some sort of brain-body sensation, introduced by it, which seems to make a positive difference, though I don’t understand it.

Still, if you’re at all curious, get something cheap to start with: a Platinum Preppy or a Lamy Safari, and a Rhodia pad, and then … write SOMETHING.

  1. No Moleskines for me!
  2. More recently, multi-gen pens, both the Pilot and Zebra Sarasa are staples now.
  3. Seven years ago now!
  4. Astonishingly cheap, at roughly the price of a Starbucks coffee
  5. Currently the most expensive pen I’ve allowed myself to buy, around $60-70
  6. In Fine and Extra-Fine
  7. Can usually get aroundd $30

Continuing thoughts about the “static blog”

After some deliberation, I feel there’s no point in either (1) keeping a separate static-only blog and this blog, or (2) keeping two separate WordPress blogs, because

  • I don’t have the mind space for that. It’s straightforward to have one place for everything
  • If I did want to have a place for code snippets today, they would either belong in a shared dynamic environment, such as or nextjournal.

So, I’m going to rely on Categories to keep different posts siloed away, and see how that goes …

Previous, unpublished post:

(Found this in my drafts folder, might as well throw it out …)

I’m still thinking through this … when I first looked around, I thought Tumblr was a good candidate for the sort of “snippet-heavy” (gists, quotes, screenshots) that I anticipate throwing into my static blog.

Given that WordPress is actually something I use (for this blog, right here!) and the fact that a new “block-based” editor/design just rolled out, I’m now wondering if I should import my existing Tumblr into a new WordPress blog and just use that instead.

It’ll mean I’ll have two separate WordPress blogs … but that doesn’t seem too bad. This raises the obvious question of … why not have just one blog? Well, because they seem different (in my head, anyway): one is more of a “semi-organized summary of life and interests”, while the other is a sort of “scrapbook of anything connected to programming, computing, commentary and snippets, bits of explorations”.

Anyway, I’ll decide something soon (I hope!)

Angst about the static blog (again!)

This is beyond frustrating … after I moved everything this year to a different layout and thought I was “finally done”, I’m now wondering whether the static site is a good idea at all.

The big bottleneck turns out to be having to SSH somewhere and regenerate/refresh the site that way, which was okay earlier, but feels like a drag now.

I really want to write whenever I get time, since I’m not always onmy laptop. So I resorted to making it “async”, decoupling the writing from a separate time when I go and copy-paste everything into new posts and re-generate … except I then forget to do this sometimes, and every time I write something, I realize I have to now remember to do this other step at some point.

It would be so much better if I could just publish whenever I write. This seems to suggest one of the usual hosted platforms, and then I have to wonder why I even have two separate blogs, and I think of all the effort it would take to convert what I have into a new format (sigh!).

I’m sure there’s a sweet spot that exists somewhere. Is this the kind of thing that Ghostwould provide? Or is this what Tumblr was supposed to be?

Is having a personal hosted site simply too old-school and I need a new kind of place for this?

Or should I just have this WordPress place and — I do want to keep these two “worlds” separate — have two sets of posts? Is that possible?

I just want to be able to write and publish and forget about it 😦

On writing with pen and paper

Very quickly: I love Baron Fig notebooks, both the larger, hard-cover Confidant, and the smaller, soft-cover Vanguard.

After a few years of trying different styles, I realized I vastly preferred white paper with light dots to either plain paper or ruled paper or grid paper, and simply will not use either of them again.

While we’re here, you can’t go wrong with a simple Lamy Safari to write with.

On World Building

Something I came across (and which would be lost, but for the Wayback Machine):

Every moment of a science fiction story must represent the triumph of writing over worldbuilding.

Worldbuilding is dull. Worldbuilding literalises the urge to invent. Worldbuilding gives an unneccessary permission for acts of writing (indeed, for acts of reading). Worldbuilding numbs the reader’s ability to fulfil their part of the bargain, because it believes that it has to do everything around here if anything is going to get done.

Above all, worldbuilding is not technically neccessary. It is the great clomping foot of nerdism. It is the attempt to exhaustively survey a place that isn’t there. A good writer would never try to do that, even with a place that is there. It isn’t possible, & if it was the results wouldn’t be readable: they would constitute not a book but the biggest library ever built, a hallowed place of dedication & lifelong study. This gives us a clue to the psychological type of the worldbuilder & the worldbuilder’s victim, & makes us very afraid.


The Parabolic Fabulist

Air Raid shelter in Trieste, with text

About ten years ago I had this idea of a half-poetry, half-prose piece of surreal fiction, that stayed locked in my head and grew rusty over time.

A few months ago (starting with NaNoWriMo 2015, but continuing after that), I hashed out some of this in actual words, and put it together, and after much fear and self-loathing, put it up as an eBook on Amazon.

If you have the right amount of morbid curiosity, you can check it out here, but a couple of warnings:

  • It might read as very amateurish, and perhaps even a bit ”adoloscent-ish”, but much of that is due to when some of these ideas first arrived in my head

  • The form is very unusual, with alternating ”strands” instead of a chapter-based book. Again, this might seem nonsensical, but it’s how things came out and it seemed natural. I’m pretty sure I will never do this again.

The only objective good part of this is that I think I enjoyed the experience1 and definitely want to do it again. Maybe the next time I can promote what I’ve written more unapologetically.

  1. Scrivener was very helpful (even though I barely scratched the surface of its features), and the free Preview app that ships with OSX is all I used for the cover. 

NaNoWriMo 2015

I’ve been fooling around with the idea of NaNoWriMo (or NAtional NOvel WRiting MOnth)1 for a while now, but this year I’d like to commit to it publicly.

I don’t think I’ll actually end up writing 50,000 words, but I will write something. I don’t really have anything in mind, but I’m not too worried about that because:
– I’ve heard that you shouldn’t expect to write anything good anyway before you’ve written a million words2
– Instead of pursuing self-consciously “serious” ideas, I’ll use some obviously adoloscent-ish material I dreamed up a decade ago
– I have to try this once

  1. BTW the name is catchy, which is why you also have NaNonWriMo (for non-fiction), NaPlWriMo (for playwriting, and IMHO unpronounceable), NaNoDrawMo (for drawing), NaNoGenMo (for novel generation), and NaBloPoMo (for blogging). 
  2. Attributed to David Eddings … or perhaps Ray Bradbury. Who knows.