I wish I could claim to be neat and tidy, but just see what a mess I made simply writing my journal this morning! I blame it on the paper – it led me through a wormhole of experimentation which hasn’t resolved much at all.

Since the beginning of May I’ve been writing my journal entries in the pink hard-covered “Spark” notebook (so called because that’s what I chose to have printed on the cover) and I just don’t know how much longer I’m going to be able to put up with it. The idea of filling the whole book seems bleak because it feels so horribly cramped that I don’t enjoy writing in it. I’ve been pondering why I find the pages of this book so unpleasant to use and I’ve identified two factors which I think combine in an undesirable way.

My writing on 6mm line spacing

My biggest problem is with the book’s 6mm line spacing which means the lines are simply too close together for my taste. 7mm is just about acceptable, 8mm is my strong preference. All the time I am writing on this paper, I feel I’m forced to squeeze my handwriting into the available space, and it’s not as if I have large handwriting to begin with. I’ve tried writing on alternate lines, but I don’t like how that looks either, although it would help me use up the notebook quickly.

My writing on 8mm line spacing

For comparison, I re-wrote some bits in one of the cheap Silvine exercise books I bought a few weeks ago as these have 8mm ruling, and to me it feels like there’s the right amount of “white space” here. My words have room to breathe.

Fountain pen ink on absorbant paper

The issue with the line spacing is made worse by the second issue I have with the “Spark” book, which is the absorbancy of the paper. It’s actually nice, robust paper and there’s minimal show-through to the back of the pages with my fountain pen inks. The problem is that the ink spreads out into the surface of the paper which thickens every stroke. Writing with an extra-fine nib on this paper results in a line which I’d expect from a medium nib.

Fountain pen ink on less absorbant paper

See how much crisper the lines are on a less absorbant paper? That, too, helps with the overall feel of space on the page when it’s filled with handwriting. I might just about cope with the 6mm line ruling if the paper in the “Spark” notebook was coated and gave a crisper definition to my writing; as it is, the ink spread combined with the close ruling drives me round the bend.

The actual colour of the paper doesn’t bother me and I don’t believe that the “Spark” notebook feels cramped because the paper is ivory, or that the Silvine notebook feels more spacious because it has white paper.

All of this leaves me with the task of deciding whether I’m going to push on through my grievances and keep using the “Spark” notebook. That is certainly my intention because I would hate to abandon it this early on, and I am trying to be sensible and use up what I’ve got. I think it would be a harder choice to make if the Silvine paper was in a notebook rather than exercise books. I love the exercise book format, but I don’t feel it’s a completely natural fit as a journal; perhaps that is why I’ve not been too tempted by the Travelers Notebook systems.

I think my dad’s Parker 51 filled with Graf von Faber-Castell Cobalt ink might be a little better with this paper, so I’m going to carry on using that and see how it goes…. although, you know, looking at these photos I’m not entirely convinced.

9 thoughts on “A dull and messy morning

    1. Thank-you for such a kind comment. I’ve worked at improving my handwriting over the past couple of years as I felt it had got quite messy, but I still scrawl illegibly when I have to quickly write things down in ballpoint pen whilst listening to a phone call. I wish I’d persevered with shorthand as I feel that would have been ideal for taking notes and messages.

    1. They do! However, the change to the Parker pen with Graf von Faber-Castell ink has allowed me to draw back from the brink of throwing the book on the floor and jumping up and down on it!

    2. I was wondering if you had it in you to toss a book. I don’t think I could. It would just sit and languish on my shelf for eternity.

    3. Actually, I don’t mind tossing out the ones I don’t like. The real question is what to do with the entries I’ve already written. Re-write them in a new book? Tear out the pages and paste them into the new book? Carry on in ballpoint pen? Well, clearly, that last one is never going to happen!

    4. Ballpoint? Bah! If there were a lot of pages, I would carefully cut them out, otherwise I’d copy. Or shred if they are really crappy.

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