Diaries and Paper!

Apologies – this week I’m desperately working on an edit (again). This one is the last in my Vintener Trilogy about the Hundred Years War. A good series of books, and enthusiastically supported by an increasing readership. Thanks! I should have finished the edit in the next week, but with family coming to visit, time is getting restricted, so, as a result, here’s a short piece.

Lovely wintry morning!

Lovely wintry morning!

I have two main issues with writing. First is finding paper that is good enough to write on, and second is getting paper that will go through an old printer so that I can print my own diaries. I’ve had issues with this for ages. I used to buy ready printed diaries when I was a salesman, and loved the French Quo Vadis formats. They gave brilliant A5 format diaries that allowed me to break up days, use “To Do” lists, and keep notes about clients. But as an author, I had to give up such frivolities. With fewer than two meetings in every six months, a diary seemed pointless. As my speaking engagements expanded, suddenly I needed a diary again, but after the famous time when I managed to triple book myself, my wife took over management of my time. A good idea!

But while working at Exeter University as a tutor with the Royal Literary Fund, I discovered that I needed to have a diary system that efficiently controlled my time on a fifteen minute rolling basis. As a result I started using the Chronodex time management system from Scription. It was invented by Patrick Ng, and he has provided it free of charge to anyone who wants to use it.  I’ve been using it for four years now, and I find it ideal. I can see at a glance where I need to be, how long for etc. It works for me in the same way that an analog watch seems to function better than a digital one. I can understand a dial more quickly than I can a series of numbers.Screenshot 2015-11-28 16.31.31

However, it suffered from the paper. I use a Midori Traveller’s Notebook as my daily carry note-taker. With this, I can work on stories, noting down conversations I hear, ideas for a character, ideas for a plot. And it also has my essential “Things to do” lists, too. But with ordinary paper, the MTN struggles. A full diary for a year with one week to view is impossible. Yet that is what I need. The answer? At last I’ve found it: Q-Connect paper.

It is 50 gsm, so incredibly light compared to my usual 80-90 gsm copier paper. However, normal copier paper often works as efficiently as blotting paper when I try to write on it. You can see “feathers” of ink spreading out as you write as ink soaks between the paper’s fibres; you can see it “bleeding” into the paper so that the ink shows all the way through to the other side. These are not minor issues with a diary. But with this new Q-Connect paper, I’ve been working with the incredible new inks in the Diamine “Shimmertastic” range, which are wet inks, and using a very wet, broad nib in my Conway Stewart Drake pen. None of the ink bled through, and the feathering was unnoticeable. Truly remarkable. So now I will be testing the paper going through my printer to see if it is as happy with toner as it is with ink. I will certainly be recommending the paper to all who like fountain pens and thinner paper.

However, since I’ve mentioned the inks, I may as well tell you about them as well.

Magical Forest, sort of Kelly Green colour; Red Lustre with dark berry colour, and then Brandy Dazzle with an Oxblood shade of brown. Lovely!

Magical Forest, sort of Kelly Green colour; Red Lustre with dark berry colour, and then Brandy Dazzle with an Oxblood shade of brown. Lovely!

I’ve been working with Diamine inks for years now. I love their greys, their blues, their greens and browns, and their inks are very good value, so I have a fair selection of different colours.

Oxblood regularly stains my fingers, as do Teal and Prussian and Chinese blues. Variety is key to enjoying writing, I find, and Diamine have 103 basic colours and shades in their range.

Last week they were kind enough to send me a trio of their Shimmertastic inks to test, and I’ll be putting up a video on them shortly. However, I don’t think it’ll be a surprise to hear that I loved them.

They sent me Brandy Dazzle, Red Lustre and Magical Forest. The first two are red inks (Brandy is more an Oxblood colour, Red the colour of a deep red) and Forest is a bright green. All give good shading and variety as you write, which is really nice to see, however the main thing is, they all have metal particles in them. The reds use a golden particulate, while the green uses a silvery metal. The particles themselves are quite keen on sedimenting out. Not only on the page, but in the bottle and in the pen, so when you load it, you do have to make sure that you have shaken the bottle intensely first. Also, occasional rotating of the pen is a good idea (um, no, don’t shake the pen. Not a good idea unless you want glittering blobs on the ceiling and everyone else in the room!) so that you keep the particles moving.

I’ve only used them in a dip pen and a cartridge converter pen. The dip did not work for me. The trouble is, you really need to agitate the bottle between dips. The particles did sink quite quickly. However, when I loaded my Conway Stewart, the story was different. The bits of metal moved much more happily, and the results were very pleasing.

Red Lustre and Magical Forest here

Red Lustre and Magical Forest here – love the sparkles in the red!

It is not the sort of ink you would fill with just before going into a meeting. Not in my case, anyway. The effort of keeping the particles moving would be a bit of a pain. However, if you’re writing Christmas notes, cards or present labels, it’s perfect. I love the deep glitter that you get, especially with the golden glow in the reds, and the silvery sheen in the green is lovely.

Magical Forest

Magical Forest – look at that glitter!

My favourite? Personally, because it is so similar to Oxblood, I think that the Brandy Dazzle would get my personal vote. I really like the faintly clotted blood, glittering appearance. It makes me think of writing in fresh blood. Surely that is the right sort of colour for a crime writer, after all?

I do think that these inks will take a little more effort to use. I wouldn’t want to leave them in a pen for too long, and would flush and clean the pen more routinely, if using them, but for all that, I think they are a definite benefit to my writing, especially at this time of year. So, if you’re thinking of Christmas cards or writing thank you letters, I think your ink has been chosen for you!

Happy writing!

And now – back to the edit!

Full range of Diamine's regular inks

Full range of Diamine’s regular inks

Magical Forest

Magical Forest

9 Responses to “Diaries and Paper!”
  1. Nigel says:

    Excellent and interesting review! I’ve only heard of Diamine inks through your good self. Previously I’ve been experimenting with Waterman, Sheaffer Skrip and Parker inks (I know – a total amateur!) which are probably made by the same company anyway. Mind you, I only have Parker, Pelikan and Sheaffer fountain-pens anyway! Cult Pens look brilliant. Will try them soon :-)


    • I’ve just put up an addition to the blog post, Nigel, which gives the full range of Diamine’s standard inks. You can use the link I gave to Cult’s site and check for them there. For testing, I recommend Diamine’s 30ml testers, and when you find the ones you like, the 80ml bottles are excellent value. Good luck!


  2. I was fascinated by the Chronodex, though reading through the site it looks quite hard work to p ut together, and hand making leather tabs is beyond me! Reminds a bit of the old filofax, of which I still have one. I do like the look of the travellers notebook though, so may be putting that in my christmas stocking. :)


    • It is a lot simpler that Filofax. Basically, it’s an oblong of leather with some elastic bands inside to hold notepads in place. Sounds crazy (especially for £40), but it’s addictive. I never could get on with DayRunner or Filofax, but I love the Midori. It’s a better size, and it’s simple. On the Chronodex, I’d try it out. All it takes is to decide on a layout you want, and print it. Luckily I have a wife who’s keen on fiddling with pictures and printing etc, but I’ve done it a bit myself. I’m working on a layout that has 5 dials on the left for the weekdays, and Sat/Sun on the right as rectangles, with the majority of the paper on the right as an area for notes. With this 45-50gsm paper, I should be able to get it to fit in my Midori with no problem. I do find the dial format much better for my work, though. In fact I started putting up a monthly version, with one dial for the year, and days marked in each. Still playing with that as a whiteboard year planner! Leather tabs? Life’s far too short and it would take up too much space!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh my head is spinning now haha. I’ve ordered a midi, though I think it will be not used as a diary, but a travelling companion for notes and stuff. :)


  3. jerjonji says:

    ooohhh! Off to check them out!


  4. Lindsey Russell says:

    Don’t know where else to post this. Saw your tweet – if the morris dancer is missing he must be a victim. That must be a first surely? Did a quick google of the author – will have to look out for her books.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: