November 27, 2007


Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
I made it with some help from friends. Thanks for the encouragement. My acknowledgments and congratulations extends to Bluesdarky, Inowen, and Chet Chin. Particularly to Blues: a character, a muse that walks right into the void of fiction to keep me company and collaborate on this marathon of words.

The following tools were used to write: Levenger’s Evolution Journal and Commonplace Book, Microsoft Word 2007 trial version, Hero 329 fountain pen, and AlphaSmart Pro.



A Note from Ryan

November 12, 2007

A Note from Ryan

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
This note makes me smile. The story behind this True Writer began one morning when I received an invitation to explore Second LIfe Abott’s AeroDome from Ryan/Austin. Ryan had made a giant True Writer Shuttle in Second Life. I think it is the same color even. Back then Ducce was a noob and could not fly it very well…and he’s still is to some extent. I have earned my wings indeed. I like the green ink that Ryan uses. The True Blue has a nice finish and weight. I can refill it with six styles of Ballpoint, Roller, and my favorite Anti-Gravity.


flickr truewriter

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Commonplace Journal Index Page

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.

“a certain old, well-thumb’d common-place book…carried in my pocket for three summers, and absorb’d over and over again.” – Walt Whitman.

CommonPlace Journal Cover

The book comes with three white stick on labels. The journal has a preface which explain what a Commonplace journal is. Those two small pages of explanation gives me so much ideas and possibilities for this notebook. It began in Renaissance times. The Latin term is loci communes, or commonplaces. There is a guide for using the Commonplace Refill. So for example ‘Game Theory’ would be under ‘Ga’. Take the first letter and the next vowel. Then note the pages separated with a comma. This system is based on John Locke which would be filed under ‘Lo’ and or ‘Co’ for commonplace book. You get the idea. There are six pages for Index and additional two pages for more or different categories. Otherwise it is just like the ruled journal with numbered pages. The signatures are sewn together with threads instead of glue for durability. There are 120 pages for both the Journal and the Commonplace book. The pages have very smooth but not glossy surface so the ink sits well on the page and not bleed through.

Already I am thinking that in the back section could use some sort of indexing system, perhaps a simple alphabetical index or appendix. These journals are called Refills and they are meant for the three versions of the jacket. Stand alone, the covers are flexible for bending and putting it into a jacket sleeve. I can’t help but wonder if there’s a version of a sturdier cover which can be a stand alone notebook or slip more easily into the jacket.

All in all, it’s a superb journal. I could use it for a book of quotations, journals, or ideas for a novel. Participating in NaNoWriMo has taught me to first capture and later catalog. Now there’s a way to index it and later edit the work in an organized fashion.

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Evolution Journal Arrival!

November 12, 2007

Evolution Journal Jacket with Pocket 2

Originally uploaded by Duc N. Ly.
A few months back, I became aware of the Commonplace Journal. I was not successful in making one of my own. Recently, Levenger has made an entry into this method of keeping notes. Now, it ‘s hard press to find this Commonplace journal on the market. Most of it has been home made. The fact that Levenger has enough faith in this type of journal says lot about their willingness to test the market. There has been a up surge of demand for old style types of journal and methods of keeping notes.

Before I get into what and how the commonplace book is designed, I would like to give my first general impression. At first I was very excited to see that a major company like Levenger is making a Commonplace book. I’ve look everywhere and I could not find it. Along with this line are the blank and ruled journals. The paper quality is meant for fountain pen inks. Sure one can write in it with a ballpoint pen but if you really wanted to be transported back in time, pick up a nice fountain pen and let it flow. The guild edge often entice me to open up the journal to find precise lines, numbered pages, and a touch of flourish at the top of every page.

Along with these lines of journal, Levenger made a series of jackets. I had already seen the Infinity Journal and have been lusting after it for a while. But I was lucky enough to received the Evolutionary Journal from Ryan! What began as a simple request from Ryan to feature the Commonplace book has evolved into the Evolution Journal. From the catalog, I was immediately intrigued. My first reaction: this is a Moleskine on Steroids. As the name suggest, perhaps recall Darwin’s maxim of the survival of the fittest. One can imagine that Charles Darwin might have a journal similar to this for his field work. It certainly has the weather protection enclosure. In Ryan’s words: ‘It is feature rich’. It has a deep pocket, a ribbon page marker, pen loop, and a flap to keep everything bounded together into one svelte package with the journal power and capacity to carry one through a dreary rainy afternoon. The pocket is really user friendly or very accessible. The pen loop is very handy and the flap with the invisible magnetic closure makes it a travel protection for the precious pages inside. I have the large size, which is about the size of the junior Circa Fold Over. It is less bulky then it looks in the paper catalog. The jacket really fits snugly over the paper journal. I’ve decided to use it as my diary for the coming year. With the ability to index in a Commonplace style, I can go back for that novel idea. There is also the pre-printed diary agenda that one could slip in and use it for business. It really looks professional and thin.

The Evolution Journal Cover is made of Full Grain Leather.
The design was inspired by an antique finds. It is based on a journal that was discover at an antique store. Levenger has revised their line of Journal.  There are three types of leather cover in three different sizes. This allows for an astonishing selection of choices. In a way, this follows the lead of the Circa system. Although, the letter size is not yet available.  The great advantage of a leather journal is that I can use it one year after the next.  Rather then committing to one style of journaling, I can change from day to day or month to month or year to year while the cover stays and earn a character through each use.


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Book Leave

November 6, 2007

I heard this phrase ‘Book Leave’ from Garrison Keilor when they air a repeat episode and Garrison is off to write. I thought I would be a Dilettante and use this phrase ‘Book Leave’. It has such a ring to it. Doesn’t matter if I’m writing a book or not … it can just be a lazy excuse not to post. NaNoWriMo is here. I’m typing away at my Alpha SmartPro. 8,013 words and counting.

I’ll be back to do a write up on the Common Place Book from Levenger.

Meanwhile, I give you these words from Naomi Novic. One of the surprise joys of joining the NaNoWriMo is receiving encouragements from writers on how to write. This one happens to involve paper and notepads! I thought you might enjoy it.

“The single most important technique for making progress is to write ten words. Doesn’t matter if you’re badly stuck, or your day is completely jam-packed, or you’re away from your computer—carry a small paper notebook and write a sentence of description while you’re waiting on line at a coffee shop. I think of this as baiting a hook. Even if you have a few days in a row where nothing comes except those ten words, I find that as long as you have to think about the novel enough to write ten words, the chances are that more will come.”….

“I like writing longhand a lot for clearing jams and rapidly generating new scenes. I don’t generally try and write complete scenes when I am writing longhand, I do more of a pencil-sketch version of a scene, all rough and scribbled, drifting in and out of outline form, full of shorthand and initials and incomplete sentences. This is also a easy way to get some polish in without losing speed—when you transfer the longhand to your computer, you’ll almost without thinking improve the sentences. And it’s fun having a physical artifact to commemorate the work—get one of those nice journals from your local bookstore, and if you are the kind of person who hates to waste money, spend enough on the journal that you will then feel bad if you don’t finish the novel.” – Naomi Novic

Wrike Collaboration

November 2, 2007



wrike youtube video 

Yesterday, I set up some tasks on Wrike and assigned some of my friend and Daria of Wrike to test out the email feature. All I had to do was write their email addresses in the share box and they would get the task or file. I set it to Ludvie who is not even on Wrike yet. Then I got the task back from Daria with her modifications and notes. It’s fantastic and amazing. It surprised me. I’m still learning the emailing feature but it’s not hard to use. I wanted to reply to Daria in a task but I didn’t know how. So I set up a new task. But low and behold, I had already run out of my 20 tasks. So I sent Daria an email instead and ask her how to use the reply feature. This is what she wrote:

This is what Wrike is all about – collaboration. You can share your tasks with your partners and friends. Then they can edit tasks by simply replying your emails (choosing the “reply to all” option). Or they can update your tasks by writing a separate e-mail and adding to the CC field.

I have tried it and enjoy it very much. I use it for GTD and collaborating with others on ideas. It’s as easy as a click to send a task as an email.

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An email from Tom Robbins

November 1, 2007

Dear NaNoWriMo participant,

When you sit down to begin that novel of yours, the first thing you might want to do is toss a handful of powdered napalm over both shoulders—so as to dispense with any and all of your old writing teachers, the ones whose ghosts surely will be hovering there, saying such things as, “Adverbs should never be…”, or “A novel is supposed to convey…”, et cetera. Enough! Ye literary bureaucrats, vamoose!

Rules such as “Write what you know,” and “Show, don’t tell,” while doubtlessly grounded in good sense, can be ignored with impunity by any novelist nimble enough to get away with it. There is, in fact, only one rule in writing fiction: Whatever works, works.

Ah, but how can you know if it’s working? The truth is, you can’t always know (I nearly burned my first novel a dozen times, and it’s still in print after 35 years), you just have to sense it, feel it, trust it. It’s intu itive, and that peculiar brand of intuition is a gift from the gods. Obviously, most people have received a different package altogether, but until you undo the ribbons you can never be sure.

As the great Nelson Algren once said, “Any writer who knows what he’s doing isn’t doing very much.” Most really good fiction is compelled into being. It comes from a kind of uncalculated innocence. You need not have your ending in mind before you commence. Indeed, you need not be certain of exactly what’s going to transpire on page 2. If you know the whole story in advance, your novel is probably dead before you begin it. Give it some room to breathe, to change direction, to surprise you. Writing a novel is not so much a project as a journey, a voyage, an adventure.

A topic is necessary, of course; a theme, a general sense of the nexus of effects you’d like your narrative to ultimately produce. Beyond that, you simply pack your imagination, your sense of humor, a character or two, and your personal world view into a little canoe, push it out onto the vast dark river, and see where the currents take you. And should you ever think you hear the sound of dangerous rapids around the next bend, hey, hang on, tighten your focus, and keep paddling—because now you’re really writing, baby! This is the best part.

It’s a bit like being out of control and totally in charge, simultaneously. If that seems tricky, well, it’s a tricky business. Try it. It’ll drive you crazy. And you’ll love it.

Tom Robbins

Tom Robbins is the author of eight novels, including Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Jitterbug Perfume, and his latest, Villa Incognito.