Head Down, Eyes On My Own Paper

Welp. I’m sitting here in Panera, rather than the coffee house one block from my house, because we needed at item from a store near Panera, work area photo (the above is not it) taken but phone is being persnickety about sending it to other devices, so this will have to do. No idea what I’m going to talk about right now, because, right now, my brain is quite firmly lodged in story world (actually more than one of them, but I can compartmentalize things like that fairly easily) so we’ll go with the picture for inspiration.

Technically, I do not need any new notebooks. Ideally, I need them all. Reality is somewhere in between. This set of three cahiers screamed out that it wanted to come home with me, and I didn’t even have the shrink wrap off before I knew exactly how I wanted to hack this trio. I almost always hack notebooks, except for those that are already a perfect fit, as with my current daily pages book.

These are by Picadilly, one hundred pages each, a nice, round number, and have cream-colored, lined pages. I love Picadilly paper, but need more structure on my pages, so I draw a frame around each, add some color (in this case, suggested by the covers of each) et voila, new purse notebooks. I’ve used my Pilot Varsity and Micron pens in the “Make Today Great” book and will probably use my Bic Cristals in them at some point, but am leaning ever more strongly toward fountain pens as my favorites. I already have my eye on two more Pilot Varsity pens at our local art supply store, green and turquoise, and I’m going to need to replace the black one soon. I’ve read tutorials on how to refill the Varsity pens, which are sold as disposable. Half of me wants to try it, and half of me remembers I am me, and this will require pliers and an open bottle of ink. . I may have to recruit Housemate or Real Life Romance Hero on that one, or actually buy a real fountain pen, because that’s what I really want. We’ll see what happens.


Picture break while I change the subject.

In the meantime, I’m writing. Current projects include Her Last First Kiss, as well as co-writing a novella I can best describe as ‘historical romance adjacent,’ and am diving into more book-related posts for Heroes and Heartbreakers. I can fangirl about historical romance novels all day long (no, seriously, I can. Ask Housemate or Real Life Romance Hero. They know.) and, as much as I love some of the older titles, this is an exciting time to be currently in the genre, as well.

This means I’m doing more reading. A lot more reading. Library books give me baleful looks from my TBR shelf as I peer intently at the screen of my phone, because either A) I have somehow missed how to increase the font size on Adobe Digital Editions, or B) their option to increase font size is only a cruel joke, and/or a test to see how badly I want to read the EARC (electronic advance reading copy) I have for an upcoming post. Blocking out time to read (and using a planner to do so) has meant a big boost, not only in how much I’m getting read, but the amount of time I devote to it.

Reading more keeps my brain closely aligned to story, and reading within my genre (though still keeping an eye out for realistic YA that catches my interest – I literally squealed when I saw the release of a new David Levithan is imminent. I’d read his grocery list, seriously.) gives me a firmer footing there. I hadn’t known that was missing. Well, no, I had, but I didn’t know that I didn’t know, if that makes any sense.

What it comes down to, for me, is head down, eyes on my own paper. It’s not a contest. While I’m sure there are people who read books by only one author, ever, that’s the exception rather than the rule. X’s success does not mean Y’s failure. It’s up to the individual. As long as I know what I’m doing, where I’m going, and what I need to get there, keep moving in that direction every day, it’s going to happen.


I can’t control the market. I can’t control the readership. I can’t control current events or other writers or the internet. What I can control is this: what I write. That’s it, and that’s probably a good thing. My job is to write my stories, my way. That means knowing what tools I need to get the job done, making sure that I have them, and that they are in good repair and ready to use. That means shutting out things that are going to get in the way of getting from “once upon a time” to “happily ever after.” That means studying my craft by reading the work of historical romance writers who came before me, and the work being produced by my contemporaries. That means filling my creative well and exposing myself to new experiences, to put new tools in my toolbox. That means knowing my voice, and knowing how to protect, nurture and develop it. That means saying “no” to things that are going to take me farther from my goal and “yes” to those that will bring me closer to it. That means making mistakes and falling down and getting back up to try again. That means  butt in chair, pen on paper and fingers on keyboard, by any means necessary.

TLDR:  Head down, eyes on my own paper. I got this.


6 thoughts on “Head Down, Eyes On My Own Paper

  1. Those are really pretty notebooks. If you want to get into fountain pens, might I suggest a Pilot Metropolitan or a Lamy AlStar? They’re very reasonably priced and nice writers…of course they’re gateway drugs into the world of fountain pens, so I guess that would make me your enabler. Anyway I totally agree with the last two paragraphs of this post – it’s hard to always shut out the world and focus on writing, but that’s the only way to make it happen. Thanks for sharing!

      • It is, which is why I have to handwrite things. I can’t work on the computer because I just don’t have the ability to think and type at the same time. I envy people like my husband who can, but that’s not for me. Plus I get too distracted online to work that way.

  2. Jennie, me too. There’s a connection with pen and paper that isn’t there with the keyboard. I can compose nonfiction directly on the keyboard, but with fiction, having pen and paper make a huge difference.

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