Tag Archives: WordPress

Yes, it’s true. I have a new website.

I wasn’t going to announce this until it was official, but what the heck.

I have a new business-oriented website.

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There. Now it’s out.

Actually, this has been some time in the making.

You see, I’ve been thinking a lot about streamlining my life, so that it feels like everything I’m doing is pushing in the same direction, and not in the 20 directions I was going.

I’m guessing you can relate to this.

And, if you’ve been following this blog, you know I’ve been spending my time going back to the books. You know, the proverbial drawing table.

It’s been a time of learning, of reflection, and of intense planning. The fact is that I have some big ideas, and I want to give them a chance. But to do that I have to make some changes.

I won’t bore you with all the details. Let it be enough to say that while I’ve been away, I have developed a plan, and I’m very excited about it.

The business website is not going to replace this site, not yet anyway. I’ll still be writing here, but the truth is I don’t have the time or the energy to blog here to the degree I have in past years.

I’ll be focusing on developing my business. The new website is part of that focus. Because it’s a business site, the primary interest will be my communications work. However, there will be lots of other stuff too—about writing and personal growth and pursuing your passions.

Gradually, over the next couple of months, I’ll be making the transition. The business pieces of this site will be stripped away, leaving only the personal writing I’ve done on this blog.

I don’t know what will happen to this blog long-term. That will depend on how things go with my business!

My business site will officially launch in the Spring. Most of my time will be spent at the new website, which is:

spearcommunications.com

I do hope you’ll visit, find it of interest, and bookmark it.

Thanks for visiting. I hope to see you soon!

-Wayne.

 

 

Is one of these your perfect journal?

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Yes, it’s true: I have a lot of blank books

DOZENS OF THEM, tucked away in a drawer, waiting to be filled with the URLs of websites I’ve discovered, lists of books to read, ideas, things overheard on the subway, recipes, interviews, and other ephemera.

If there was a TV show about people with a lot of blank books, I’d probably be on it. Not that I’m a hoarder. I try to keep my stationery fetish in check: for every blank book that I buy, there are at least ten I would like to buy but don’t. And I fill these books up pretty quick.

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They come from all over the world, in many sizes and shapes and textures and colors. Some blank books are almost too beautiful to write in. I’ve coveted, but have never bought, a Cavallini Roma Lussa journal. This week I saw one at The Paper Place, here in Toronto. These journals are works of art, more suitable for use as a Downton Abbey prop than for defacing with my prosaic grocery lists.

Roma Lussa, a journal good enough to eat

Roma Lussa, a journal good enough to eat

What makes a blank book great?

I look for specific qualities in a blank book. To be great, the following criteria must be met.

Good binding. I want my books to lay flat. If I have to use a hand to keep it open while I write, I’m probably going to pass. Although ring bindings are best for books that open and lay flat, my preference is for stitched bindings. Rings add bulk and also can get caught on clothing or the lining of a satchel. Glue bindings can come loose, so I look for paper that has been gathered into signatures and threaded with a quality material.

Proper lines. By this I mean the lines should give me enough room for my writing but not be so generous that I can’t get a decent amount of text on the page. As I get older, the balance changes. I now look for more line height, since my eyes aren’t what they used to be. Also, I pass on a blank book if the lines don’t go to the edge of the page. I don’t have a good reason for this: I just think that lines which go to the edge of the page look nicer. It’s probably just me having an OCD moment.

Good paper. Again, this is objective. Because I write with a fountain pen, bleeding can be an issue. Also, the paper should take up the ink without feathering. Nowadays most journals pass these tests, so really what I’m looking for is a paper that feels and looks decent. Like most of these criteria, this is subjective. Over the years, I’ve learned which journals provide for the best writing. More on that in a moment.

Good covers. Have you ever bought a shrink-wrapped journal? Then, after a couple weeks of use, you discover that the covers curl? I’ve had this experience enough times that I now usually avoid anything shrink-wrapped. A cover should feel good in the hand, protect the pages, and keep its shape. I also prefer that it not have writing. So I mostly avoid journals that say JOURNAL on them, or that have inspirational quotations. An embossed logo is fine, since it’s subtle and blends in. Other than that, the plain old cover is for me.

Pockets. This one is optional. I won’t pass over a journal that doesn’t have pockets, but if it meets all the other criteria and also has a place to tuck receipts and lists, then bonus points. The Moleskine notebooks have a cover flap which serves this function, and I love it.

Here are some of my all-time favorite journals

clare-fontaine
You can’t not mention Clarefontaine. They make great papers. You can throw anything at a Clarefontaine journal, no problems. The most saturated ink will not bleed or feather. They come in a huge variety of formats. There are pockets. The covers have a great hand-feel. They stand up well to abuse. And Clarefontaine is a well-priced product, aiming at the practical rather than the precious. This was purchased at the most excellent Paper Papier in Ottawa, my 3rd fav stationery store in Canada. Buy something there and say Hi to Gary.

coach-house
I had no idea until this week that Coach House Press made blank books. I don’t know why every publisher doesn’t make a journal that conforms to its book specs. I would definitely buy a Penguin or Random House or Oxford University Press or Anansi blank book that looked and felt like their paper backs. Especially Anansi. (P.S. I found this at Wonder Pens on Dundas West.)

moleskine-large
This is the Moleskine large notebook in the new Cranberry color, purchased at Valhalla Cards. I have already put a big thumbprint on it, and I guess that’s my only complaint about these. For some reason they seem to attract stains. I have these in three colors: Black is business, grey is personal research, and kraft is scribbles. I don’t know what cranberry is yet, but this is an unlined journal so I may dedicate it to sketches, mind maps and planning.

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Another Moleskine, in landscape. Like the journal below, this can be used as a reporter’s notebook, and that’s what I’m going to do. (Found in Vancouver at Paper-Ya.)

monsieur
Most journals are standard book format, so I’m always on the look-out for something unusual. I like the A5. In fact, I really like European paper sizes. For some reason that tiny difference of a few millimetres, between Letter and A4, really works for me. So I’m looking forward to opening this A5 journal and using it with my interviews. (Also from Paper-Ya.)

pocket-dept
SQUARE NOTEBOOKS! They are so, so hard to find, and I really like them. Rarely do I pass up a square notebook. The Pocket Dept. notebooks are pretty decent. Nice laid paper, solid bindings. This one is the perfect size: 6X6. It’s called the Backpack, and that’s probably where it will go. Love it! (Bought at Valhalla Cards, Queen Street West, Toronto.)

press-bound
Ah, Pressbound. It’s the brain-child of Melissa Gruntkosky. I’m an Art Deco junkie, and so her vintage designs paired with quality hand-made paper is irresistible. I love everything about Melissa. On her About page she gives her grandma a shout-out and says she loves beer. Grandma-shout-outs+beer+top-quality-journals=big win. What are you waiting for? Go buy something.

rialto
This Rialto Books “Venetian hand-bound” leather journal, by Darren Cole of Toronto, was a gift. Again, almost too nice to write in. But one day soon….

rustico
I found this Rustico felt journal cover at Paper-Ya in Vancouver, my second-fav stationery store in Canada. (My #1 fav is the mind-blowing Papeterie Nota Bene, in Montreal. It’s so good I’m scared to go there.) The refills are hard to find here in Toronto, but fortunately a Moleskine (just barely) will fit.

senfort
Here’s a Senfort ring-bound journal from Wallack’s. I like the heavy plasticized cover. This is one rugged journal. The paper is also very nice.

twin-ring
Last, but not least, Twin Ring. These are great, and they seem to be everywhere. I bought this one at a now-defunct Ottawa stationery store. They come in a variety of formats and colors. They really do provide satisfaction, as the cover states. By the way, does anyone know if the text is Engrish? Or maybe even faux Engrish? It’s just “off” enough that it kind of makes you chuckle. Anyway, Engrish is brilliant.

How about you?

Now it’s your turn to tell me about your great blank books!

Find me on Twitter. Check out my latest book.

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Make anything funny with this one simple trick

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LAST MONTH my family went on a mission. It was my son’s idea, and it went like this: from a hat each one of us picked the name of a family member and went to the local department store with a budget of $10 to buy that person stocking-stuffers. There was also a rule that what you bought had to be either a) edible or b) practical. So, naturally, I bought googly eyes.

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11 teeny-tiny, totally do-able things that are great for your life

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WHAT IF I SAID you can change your life for the better, and that all you’ll need is a gazillion dollars, a whackload of planning, and years of back-breaking effort? “That’s not very helpful or surprising,” you’d say. Most of us have limited resources—not only money, but discipline and energy and time. Sure, it’s great to have one big goal for the year, but anything more than that and you’re courting disappointment.

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Twelve things Millennials have amazingly never experienced

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Seeing a movie once, and only once, forever

Before the mass adoption of video home systems (VHS) in the early 1980s, the only place you’d see a movie was in the theatre, and the only time you’d see it was at the time of its release. Sure, you could go back to the theatre during the two weeks it was playing, and see it again and again. If the movie was unusually popular, it might be held over for as long as a month. Eventually the screening would end, and the movie would disappear into a black hole with no plan or expectation of a re-release. There was no option of renting or streaming. And since sequels (and prequels) have become commonplace only in the last couple of decades, chances are there would be no revisiting of the story, ever. You’d move on to the next movie, and your recollections would be the only thing you’d have.

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Dear Mister Captain—please let me on the life boat

Ship-Captain

NOTE—This piece is based on a writing assignment in the book 642 Things to Write About, published by the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto:

“Only ten people will fit in the life raft. Convince the Captain that you should be one of them.”

MR SMITH? Hi!—sorry about the mister. I realize I should have said captain. I know it’s not the best time, with the boat sinking and all, but I’ve been meaning to say that’s a nice uniform. The contrast of black and gold is masculine, audacious even, and conveys authority—while also being stylish. So often these days dress is nothing but function. Or you have uniforms like on the Love Boat, which have no gravitas whatsoever. I mean, short-sleeves? Really? Captain Stubing was no Mr. Smith, if you ask me. Sure, he was pleasant, but is pleasant really what you want when the ship is going down? Which brings me to what I was hoping to discuss with you, and I know you’re a busy man. All I’m asking for is a minute of your time and that you’ll consider letting me on the life boat. This is my story.

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How my HAPPINESS CRYSTAL will destroy the business of making people unhappy

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A FEW YEARS AGO a fictional person I’ll call Max discovered video games. He loved to play Internet games on the family desktop computer. They were freely available and provided the occasional hour or-so, here and there, of fun. But this happy condition didn’t last.

Can I has more? Click for more!