For me and many others, today has been the last day of the Christmas and New Year holidays and I return to my work routine tomorrow.
As readers of this blog may recall, I like to keep a diary, or journal, and to have about ten minutes each morning to sit with a fountain pen, to reflect upon and write up (and increasingly these days, try to remember!) the events of the day before. I prefer to do it when the day is past, when I have slept on it. My brain is then fresh and has had a chance to find some order in the previous day’s events. The diary is my record of what I did, not what I am going to do. It is a handy repository for films watched, books read, excursions enjoyed and so on.
For working days, I have found that a balloon diagram is often best. A central balloon labelled “WORK” leads out to balloons each representing a different matter that I worked on. I can then easily insert bullet points next to each balloon, for lists of tasks or occurrences on each client (or “account” in the States). This is a process which my wife describes as “doing your bubbles.” It helps me to prioritise for the day ahead.
For the past few years I have used an A5 Page-a-day format. This year, I bought a Ryman Soft Cover Diary, page a day, which is a chunky and pleasing book, with a hardback cover that has the feel of leather. According to the paper insert, it features 80 gsm cream paper, a ribbon page marker, and expandable pocket, a pen loop and an elasticated closure. I have found this to be fountain pen friendly. This means not only that most inks do not bleed or feather, but also that the paper surface is nice to write on, not glossy and draggy and also that the colours show quite well. I have noticed that with some other papers, some ink colours loose their vibrancy, as though the paper has sucked all the joy out of them.
Equally important to me, is the fact that the lined pages feature a reasonably generous row height of 7.9mm, giving 23 rows per A5 page. And you still get a full page each day on Saturdays and Sundays.
I used the same format diary last year and so much of my post The new year diary, 2021 still applies, except that this year I chose a navy blue one and the price has risen a bit, to about £12.00 I think.
In 2021 I decided to use a different pen after each month. I enjoyed that, and thought to do the same again in 2022. But then I used the same pen for January 2022 that I used for December 2021, for “continuity”. And then by the 2 January 2022, I had a new idea of picking a single pen to use for all my writing needs for a day, or even a week to see how that goes and that meant I already changed pens on 2 January. Another possibility is to change after each two page spread, as I did for the Marcus Aurelius project. In short, I have not yet decided.
I am not very good at sticking to resolutions, such as giving up chocolate. I have not set myself any particular goals or challenges for 2022 as far as the fountain pen hobby goes. I always start the year with good intentions to buy less fountain pens and to make more use of those I have. This applies now more than ever and I feel very fortunate to have accumulated a vast array of good pens, of which I can see 13 are currently inked, as I sit here. I have the urge after Christmas to simplify life and there is a certain satisfaction to be had from using the least expensive tool for the job. For example, over the holidays the pen I have reached for most, has been an Online Bachelor, a cheap plastic clear demonstrator but with a joyous 0.8mm stub nib which I like very much, currently filled with Rohrer and Klingner Salix, a blue-black iron gall ink. Another resolution is to write more and to empty some bottles of ink, such as the aforementioned Salix. I was inspired recently by Margana at Inkophile who kept a record of repeat fills of her pens and was able to tell me that one was on its 18th consecutive fill of Pilot Iroshizuku Syo-ro. The lesson was that once you find an ink you like, use it!
I realise that it is more effective to have goals that are achievable and measurable. This year, rather than say “I plan to do more walking”, I set myself a challenge to walk 1,500 miles in 2022. I have been using a pedometer app to count steps since August and found that I had 500 miles on the clock after 4 months. I would like to keep that up if I can, as I felt the benefits particularly when walking uphill. My job is a sedentary one and fitting in about 4 miles walking a day, is quite a challenge. But having a target now feels purposeful and every time I venture out on foot I can bank some miles and feed my ever-hungry app.
In my last year’s new diary post, I ended with the following words: “Flicking through the blank pages of my next year’s diary it is hard to imagine what I might be doing in the months to come. Let’s all hope for better times ahead.” I think that still applies. Wishing everyone a happy and healthy New Year 2022.