DEBORAH CROMBIE: January is the time for resolutions, for new starts. And it's also the time for new calendars.
There is a satisfaction to getting that calendar for the new year, full of blank pages, the possibility of adventures to be had and things accomplished, recorded on the waiting pages. It always makes me feel a bit like I did at the beginning of the school year with the pile of new textbooks and blank notebooks--who knew what might happen? (And I admit, there was nothing like a brand new box of crayons...)
But wait--it's the digital age. We all have calendars on our phones, our tablets, our computers. Do any of us still use PAPER?
I have an interior designer friend who uses a Day Runner (remember those?) that bulges with notes and drawings and scraps of fabric. My hair stylist, on the other hand, only uses the calendar on her iPhone. But recently my stylist updated the software on her phone and she lost everything in her calendar--not only all her appointments, but the record of everything she'd done for the last several years. Ouch.
Maybe the desire for a permanent record of one's life is age-related, but having all trace of one's schedule, past and present, vanish into the ether ranges from the inconvenient to the disastrous.
So I compromise. I have Google calendar on my electronic gizmos. They not only sync with each other, they sync with my hubby's calendar, so there's no, "Oh, but I didn't know we had your great-aunt Mabel's birthday party!"
But I also have a big whiteboard calendar on the kitchen wall, and at the beginning of the month, everything goes up in dry-erase. (Okay, so it's the box of crayons...) I need that quick visual scan, without having to pull up the month on a device.
And I still keep a paper week-at-a-glance diary. For the last few years I've used Quo Vadis Minister. It's not too bulky, but there's enough room to make notes on that day's to-do list, and to add a little detail about activities. (I know most digital calendars have a to-do list feature, but I forget to look at it...) Most important of all, I put my page or word count goals for every day of the week at the top of that day, and then I have to write down what I actually achieved. I haven't come up with anything digital that makes the same impact on my brain.
What about you, dear REDS? Paper, or...air?
LUCY BURDETTE: I am digital all the way now, with my iCalendar. I definitely don't want to synch my calendar with John's--I have enough trouble looking at all my dates without his tennis, golf, and business appointments mixed in! One nice thing about a digital calendar is the ability to go back a couple of years and search for some I did. And it's great to put birthdays on it in perpetuity.
I did love my day planners--I still keep years of the old ones in my closet--but this new age is so practical!
ROSEMARY HARRIS: Funny you should ask. I have decided to resurrect my old Filofax. I used to love seeing the week on two pages. I will probably still put everything on my phone and - when I think of it - sync with Outlook on my computer, but I'm looking forward to using the old Red Book. In my office I have a gorgeous botanical calendar which is beautiful but useless. In the kitchen, an Italian perennial calendar which requires me to move the days and months manually so it will be January for a long time. And I'll still probably never be sure what day it is.
HALLIE EPHRON: I'm one of those people who hates to see footprints wash away, so I'm devoted to my paper. Years ago -- when I was still working a 'real' job -- I bought a red-leather (Yay, Red) Day Runner pocket planner. Every year since, I insert a new blank calendar.
Like Ro, I like to see a week on facing pages. And it shows me when I've overextended myself.
I've saved them all. So valuable for all my biographers! Kidding... More likely for the IRS if I ever get audited.
RHYS BOWEN: I'm another one who can't abandon paper. I do put important dates in my Google calendar, plus all confirmation numbers when I'm traveling, but I still have a big calendar on the wall (always a pretty one) and a weekly planner--carefully chosen with lovely pictures or quotes. I put everything work related into that to show the IRS that I really did spend $200 on postage mailing out signed bookplates.
I used to love my Day Runner but it was bulky, wasn't it? I still keep it in a drawer and on New Year's Eve I bring it out and look on the GOALS page. I read what I had planned for the year and then write it what I actually accomplished. I go to my bucket list and see what still needs to be checked off.
And so right about biographers. Sometimes I have a long e-mail conversation with a famous person and afterward, when I click delete, I wonder if I should have saved it for posterity. All those lovely collections of correspondence between former literary giants don't exist in our generation.
DEBS: Interesting. So far the Luddites (or the semi-Luddites) are ahead. What about Hank and Julia? Will they tip the scales the other way?
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Guess. Okay, you know what? Paper. Yes, paper. I love my little slim day planner book, it's thin and takes up no room in my purse, and it's a diary and for bookkeeping and memories and planning all in one. INVALUABLE for the IRS, and fun to look back on events and keep track of where and when and who. I love the quotes, too.
And I agree, I need to see the whole week.
Then on my desk at work, I have a monthly calendar, since I need to see the whole month, too. On some days I'll put a big X, which mean "Just say no" for appearance requests!
I also have a word doc that's my schedule with contacts and addresses, and I print it out from time to time so I can see the whole year (now, actually two years!) at once.
It's not Luddite, it's logical!
ROSEMARY: I have a feeling that Hank's calendar is a little like the phone book - not many blanks!
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Nope. Like most of the rest of you, I combine Google calendar (SO useful when making engagements vie email - I just paste all the info into the 'description' box) with paper. I usually order a small week-at-a-glance diary from a great European company, teNeues. This year, however, since I registered for the Albany Bouchercon while in Cleveland, I'm carrying the quite handsome pocket diary they gave me.
As for wall calendars, everyone on the family has one! I have a dear friend, the Rev. Mary L. Allen, who is a talented amateur photographer. Every year, she makes up calendars using her photos as gifts for friends and family. Mine usually winds up on the kitchen wall, where everyone can check it. It's particularly useful for me, since it's also a liturgical calendar, with moveable feasts, saints days, etc.
DEBS: Beautiful, Julia!
So, on the whole, for people whose lives revolve around words, we seem to be a very visual bunch. And we are all concerned about our future biographers:-) After all, Agatha Christie left notebooks...
And what you, READERS? Do you still want a tangible record of your days?