Photo Finish Friday


The writing process edition.

I love Moleskin journals. I have two or three of them, big and small-sized. In fact one is my “signing” journal. Since I try not to hang on to too many books, when I go to an author signing I usually have them sign in my little journal. So I have 10 or 15 different autographs all in one place, and I think that’s pretty cool.

I don’t keep a “journal” so to speak; this blog is pretty much that. But I’ve always used these things for keeping track of ideas and triggers for my writing. Even when I’m writing on the computer, I keep one beside me to make notes in as I think of things unrelated to what I may be working on (like character names, which I tend to forget from page to page). Recently, though, really over the last year, I’ve been doing more and more freehand writing longhand, then transcribing it later. I’ve decided to make that switch as full-time as possible, for a couple reasons, not the least of which is the fancy Cross pen my mom gave me for my birthday a couple months ago.

One, by the end of the day I’m sick of looking at a computer. I like to sit down and scribble away in a Moleskin. Two, there are few distractions — no internet access on the Moleskin, and believe me, I am easily distracted. Finally, I can keep it with me and jot stuff down, get a paragraph here and there, whenever I want to. Yeah, people who are totally plugged into devices will tell me to get an iPad, but at $20 a Moleskin is a little cheaper.

Finally, I love to flip through and see all that writing. It is gratifying in a way that looking at online text isn’t (though I do like printing out finished work for the same sense of satisfaction). It’s like going from a pile of logs and, over a stretch of time, arriving at a neat pile of split wood to go with all the sweat and blisters. I like to see signs of completion, of a job well done, that, frankly, I don’t get from my day job.

So this picture is after I completed my first full story in the Moleskin, my entry for Naomi Johnson’s Watery Grave Invitational contest. It’s called “Run for the Roses.” I’m pretty happy with it, and I’m eager for folks to read it, even if it is a little dark.

Finally, if I start investing that much more time in my Moleskins, it will totally justify one of these. . . .



Photo Finish Friday is the brainchild of writer/blogger/world traveler Leah J. Utas.

14 thoughts on “Photo Finish Friday

  1. Sabrina E. Ogden

    I’m happy to read that you have a journal for author signatures if only because I have been considering purchasing one for that very purpose, myself. I would love to have them all in one place. I had something similar that I had during my mission that I carried from place to place. I would ask good friends that I had made to write in it (eave a thought or something personal), and I still find myself flipping through the pages to this day.

    I look forward to reading your contribution to the WGI. I’m sure it will be brilliant.

    1. chrislatray Post author

      Sabrina, it’s funny because some writers really don’t know how to react to it. They are used to signing books, and the notebook throws them off balance. I like that. I’ve had some great little pictures drawn, some cool little inscriptions, etc. The best “murderer’s row” encounter I ever had was Lehane, Lippman, Pelecanos, and Grady all one after the other after a James Crumley Appreciation event a couple years ago. The collection of sigs I got at last Fall’s Noir at the Bar I did in St. Louis was pretty stellar too….

  2. Leah J. Utas

    I love the feel of pen and paper. Longhand somehow seems more like there’s more of a connection between the thoughts and words. I’d use one of these, but my wrist wears out after a paragraph or so. I have a notebook by the computer, though, and plenty of pens and paper around the house for when I have to make a note of something.

  3. Joanne Young Elliott

    I’ve always liked writing longhand. Though I have fancy pens, sometimes I like the feel of pencil moving across nice smooth paper…though that’s really messy for a left handed person. And you’re right…much cheaper than a gadget.

  4. sportsjim81

    Just came across your blog as I decided to see what appeared in the Writing Tag on WordPress. I enjoy doing that from time to time to find new blogs I didn’t know existed. I enjoyed this post and the layout of your blog (I’m thinking of changing mine, and this theme is on my short list). Anyway, as a published writer, I was hoping you might check out my page when you get a chance and let me know what you think. I write about all kinds of things but have recently decided to focus on writing in general and the novel I am about to begin. I’d love any feedback you can give. Great blog and keep up the good work!

  5. Patti Abbott

    I am no longer able to write anything by hand. Not physically. Mentally. And I just can’t stand the feeling of a pen in my hand.

  6. G

    As you know, I write longhand more by medical necessity than anything else. At least, that was the original reason. Now I write by hand because it forces me to concentrate on what I’m doing, be it for a blog post or for a story.

    If I write my stuff by computer, for some internal reason, I wind up missing things while I’m writing. What I mean by missing is that sometimes I’ll miss key sentences and paragraphs because my brain sometimes misses the connection to the keyboard.

    So more often than not, I’ll start longhand and then move to the computer.

  7. David Barber

    Nice! I’ve been looking in all stationers and book shops up here for one of those for so long and none stock them. I’ll be getting myself one online. They certaily beat the £1.99 notebooks I keep with me. I’ve got a couple of those full of ideas but a moleskin one looks (and probably smells) better.

    Great PFF, Chris. Have a great weekend, my friend!

  8. Patti Abbott

    Yes, we can. I regard it as a deficit. Sometimes I wonder if I have given over my body and brain to technology.

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