Friday, April 17, 2020

Mychal Mitchell Loves Blank Books

 DEBORAH CROMBIE: We have a really special guest today on JRW, my good friend Mychal Mitchell, book binder extraordinaire and owner of Iona Handcrafted Books!

   We've been talking a bit here on the blog about journaling as a way of dealing with the daily challenges of the coronavirus (we had Rhys's lovely son and daughter-in-law last week with some journaling advice) and it occurred to me that who better to talk to us about journaling than a person who makes them? I wondered how Mychal, a life-long journal keeper, was approaching her own journaling practice during these stressful times.

One of Mychal's journal entries
 Here's Mychal to tell us.

Mychal in her Austin studio
MYCHAL MITCHELL
 
My Love Affair…with Blank Books


    3rd grade…it was a little square, pink, Holly Hobbie diary with a lock and key.  9 years old in a small Arkansas town, and how I loved locking up that diary after each new crush’s name was recorded within.  I fancied myself a profound writer on those little lined pages, and yet I mostly documented grade school gossip, cafeteria lunches, and the latest hits from Casey Kasem’s American Top 40.  Though that first diary is nowhere to be found, flash forward 40 years and I have quite a collection of journals of all shapes, sizes, and styles filling the mantle above my fireplace in Austin.
   Something about a new journal is so magical…and yet, sometimes intimidating.  That first page is so BLANK!  It can be inspirational.  Or can just paralyze me!  Did I mention I am a bookbinder now?  That is my full time job. (And a whole other story unto itself!)  I have been stitching and selling leather journals for about 26 years now.  I can have my pick of any journal on my shop shelves, and yet even I am still a bit afraid to mess up that first page.

    So when I am stuck staring at that clean white page, I’ve kicked myself into gear by writing the words to a song I learned in summer camp as a kid. The words still resonate with me to this day, and honestly may have affected the way I operate in the world.  Here’s how it goes:
    "On the loose to climb a mountain, On the loose where I am free. On the loose to live my life the way I think my life should be. For I only have a moment, and a whole world left to see. I’ll be looking for tomorrow on the loose……."

    It goes on for a couple more verses about traveling the world, and sleeping outdoors, and making new friends.  I just now looked up the lyrics online, and saw the words (that my sister and I still sing in the car at the top of our lungs) were not exactly the “right" ones.  But at least I covered that first daunting blank page with something.   This isn’t how all of my journals begin.  But if I’m stuck, it sets an intention for my journal, my life, and my general attitude toward the world.


Mychal's lyrics to On the Loose
    Sometimes I know exactly what that journal will hold…a special adventure, a new relationship, a creative project, or a pandemic. I am in LA where my boyfriend lives, hunkering down with the man I love in a city I barely know.  This journal has been an especially tricky one to start.  Do I create a collage all about being in lockdown mode? 


Mychal's LA journal
     Do I write a poem about how interesting it is to get to know someone during a world health crisis?  The words to my camp song don’t seem appropriate when I can’t travel the world, hike in a national park, or meet new people.  I am still pondering that first page 4 weeks into this new reality.  But I’ve done a little bit of writing, and it seems a bit lackluster. No adventures, except long walks through the neighborhood.  No new people, except his neighbors whom I am trying to get to know from a safe distance.
 
    In my "normal life", I get to talk to people all day at art shows about keeping a journal.  And all day long people lament that their lives aren’t interesting enough to record.  I often respond by saying that if my grandmother had kept a journal of her life in the 1920’s, just about anything she wrote would be fascinating to me.  Even if it were just her shopping list!



   So I am trying to tell myself that now. There are so many stressors that slow me down during this time…Will I have to close my store?  Did I remember to sign that loan application I just sent in?  When will I be back home in Austin?   Will my relationship survive this sheltering-in-place?  Will my family be ok?  (And stupid first world things like should I have bought more chocolate when I was last at the grocery store?)  So even though that first page hasn’t quite come together, I am starting in the middle of the journal…which is a trick I learned from a client years ago.  "Don’t let that first page slow you down", they’d say. "Make your first mark somewhere 20 pages or so in…screw up a few times, scratch through something if need be…then go back and do that first page when inspiration strikes.  But write something."  It’ll all be interesting to you a year from now.  Heck, the way the world is currently, things you write today will seem quaint even a week from now!  Just write something!


DEBS: I am so glad to know that even Mychal suffers from BLANK PAGE syndrome! I've used the "starting a few pages in" trick myself several times. I am trying to write something in my own Iona journal every day, even if it's only a paragraph or two. If you want to keep a journal and don't know what to say, here is a great article from Jen A. Miller in this week's New York Times.  I've used some of these suggestions already.

I am so going to miss seeing Mychal next month at our Dallas area spring art show. Her spring and fall visits are two of the big treats of my year. And, of course, my opportunity to stock up on journals!

Here's my (very messily tied) in-progress journal.



And here's our JRW friend Gigi Norwood's latest, still in its shipping box. This size, which is my personal favorite, is 7.5 by 7.5 inches and is called "the writer."  They come in everything from plain brown leather to "one of a kind" fancy. But in this case, size really doesn't matter. Just WRITE!



Mychal may be stuck in LA, but Iona Handcrafted Books are still available from her website, thanks to her trusty studio manager in Austin. So check out the gorgeous books, and chat with Mychal here in the comments!

Mychal visited the blog back in January 2013 (wow, how is it even possible that it's been that long!!! Where does the time go??) so if you'd like to learn more about the journals, and about how Mychal came to be a book binder, click here for that story.

And readers, tell us if you had a locked diary as a kid! What did you write about?



94 comments:

  1. How exquisite, Mychal. I’m in awe of your talent . . . .

    I didn’t keep a diary when I was young [still don’t] . . . My sister and I would tell each other everything . . . .

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    1. Aww, Joan... Sisters are the best, aren't they!? My sister is my dearest friend in the world... and i tell her almost everything. Between my sister and my boyfriend, all my secrets are known. And yet i still write. For me it is very cathartic.

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  2. I had a diary with a lock and key I got for Christmas one year. I’m guessing fourth or fifth grade. I didn’t write in it very long before my big brother read it and wrote in it himself. That was it. To this day I do not write down thoughts meant only for me.

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    1. Oh Pat! I know that one all too well. I had a boyfriend years ago who house sat for me while I was traveling abroad. When I came back, he confessed that he'd read ALL of those journals on my mantle! It totally changed the way I journaled for years. My current boyfriend is so respectful of my journaling habit. He wants me to have that outlet. So, I'm starting to express myself freely in my journals again. 15 years of censored journaling...what a bummer! I'm sure I still hold back a little bit, just out of habit...but I'm trying to loosen up.

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    2. Oh, Pat, I know exactly what you mean. I had a boyfriend in college who read mine, and I still censor myself, after all these years.

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  3. Yes, I do remember having a red diary with a lock and key. I was @10-11 years old and I did write in it but it's long gone. And I did not get another diary after that to write my personal thoughts.

    However, I have kept detailed travel journals since my early 20s, starting with my first solo trip to Europe in 1986. The latest travel journal I completed was for the 2-week+ vacation to San Diego in March 2020, which includes the abruptly cancelled Left Coast Crime mystery convention, the start of the COVID-19 shutdowns in California and the rushed trip back to a similar State-of-Emergency shutdown in Ontario.

    I have been in self-isolation for over a month, but have had no desire to write down my thoughts about this experience. Maybe I will eventually, maybe not.

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    1. Grace, many of Mychal's clients keep wonderful travel journals. Check out the Gallery on the Iona website and you will be inspired!

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    2. Thanks Debs, I will take a look at the Iona website gallery.

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    3. Grace...Honestly, most of my journals these days are filled during my travels. I collect little bits of stuff along the way, and do collage, and document the places I eat, the folks i meet,etc. Then i can look back at them and refer friends traveling to the same country to that delicious hole-in-the-wall in Hoi-An, or the amazing bookshop in Buenos Aires. :)

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    4. Mychal, I did visit your Iona website and liked Benno's and Mikey's journals. Those first travel journals of those Europe trips were like that...filled with notes, photos, collected bits, hand-drawn maps etc. I really do treasure those elaborate journals...more of a scrapbook, really, of some memorable, life-changing trips.

      My next planned travel/vacation in October has been cancelled but I hope that I can go on another great travel adventure sometime in 2021.

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    5. Yes, Grace..Benno and Mikey sure know how to fill a book with beauty! I am always in awe of them! Sorry your trip has been cancelled! That means our next trips will be twice as fabulous, right?! Hoping to go to India in January with the beau. Fingers crossed we all get back out there next year!

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  4. A beautiful blank book is a treasure. I mostly write in mine when I brainstorm story ideas. The thoughts come through differently with pen on paper than they do at the keyboard.

    I still have my lock-and-key diary from when I was sixteen (in the Pasadena area, Mychal, not so far from you). SO much was going on the world in 1969. Did I write about it? No! As per many teenage girls, my entries were all about boys, my friends, my schoolwork, girl scouts, and boys. The only world event I recorded was the moon landing. I'm still shaking my head about it.

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    1. Ha ha! That's funny, Edith! You wrote what was truly important in your life/teenage brain at the moment! I love it...that's REAL!

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  5. I love journaling. And journals! I'm off to check out the website.

    I so often think the stuff I write daily in my journal is horribly boring, but you're absolutely right. I wish my mother or grandmother had journaled. I'd love to read them now. I even enjoy going back through my own to see where I was on this date a year ago, two, five, ten years ago.

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    1. I have two tiny journals from my grandmother's teen years, where she wrote about boys she had crushes on who were not my grandfather. So much fun to read!

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    2. I swear I replied to this before but it isn't here. I have my grandmother's journal from when she was 17 and drove from Indiana to Berkeley in a car (she drove it), and my grandfather's (the man she later married) from his trip to Europe with his sister when he was 16. Treasures, both!

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    3. Treasures, indeed, Edith! So interesting, too, that the everyday things we think are boring are fascinating to later generations. I love reading about Londoner's daily lives during WWII, for instance. It gives you such insight into how people lived.

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    4. My mother and i travel together quite a bit. (She's an adventurer, taking 1 or 2 trips abroad each summer.) And I've been trying to get her to journal more on our trips. I'm seeing all of the same sights she's seeing when we go together, so the facts of the day are less interesting to me than her impressions of them, her feelings, and so forth. That's what I'll treasure some day if she chooses to let me keep them.

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  6. Pat D. I feel your pain. I too had a big brother and my diary was a special challenge for him. I do not journal. Funny though, I have no trouble sharing my thoughts here. There is always a direction on this blog, however.
    I do keep a wine journal and a "What bread I baked this Week" journal. Not the same though.
    Mychal, I will read about your bookbinding career. That must be a good story!

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    1. Judy, I am the same. I have been sharing a lot of personal thoughts on JRW. This is such a welcoming community and a venue to vent/share. I guess I could always search previous posts from earlier in the month and transcribe that into a (blank) new journal...and then continue it from there. Happenings in March and April have kinda blurred for me.

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    2. Great idea, Grace. One of the reasons I'm trying to journal daily is that the days--and now the weeks--all seem to flow together. As of yesterday we have been self-isolating for five weeks!

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    3. Judy... I think the "wine journal" is my next project! My boyfriend, Shiben, and i have easily been consuming a bottle every night. (Mostly inexpensive ones!) And surprisingly, some are quite decent, and we wanna remember those! I am impressed by you bread bakers. I gotta get on that train!

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  8. I'm delighted to meet you and your beautiful wares, Mychal, and I'll enjoy spending time on your website looking through the beautiful journals you produce.

    I don't keep a journal but I have been keeping what I call a "Daily Log" since September 2018, when I first began to seriously plan my departure from the full-time working world. I use a 9x11 coil bound sketchbook, and to beat that dreaded 'first page/blank page' syndrome I collage onto it the intention "Think and record. Every day." Calling it a daily log rather than a journal reduces, for me, the stress and expectation that the pages should be filled with deep meaningful long-lasting truths. I simply record the moments and contemplations of the day that spark some interest in my mind. It's become a ritual at day's end that I enjoy. Sometimes I write reams, other times I collage something representative.

    Today's post also brings to mind a book by Diane Keaton about her mother's journals, which were a hodge podge of words, collages, sketches and images. I no longer have the book, but this morning wish I hadn't given it away in a fit of down-sizing!

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    1. I'm going to look for that book, Amanda. Sounds like a treasure. And what you are doing sounds perfect for one of Mychal's journals.

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    2. Oooh...that's perfect Amanda! Whatever takes the pressure off is best1 If that's spiral bound, that's fantastic! I sometimes write in other types of journals, and i find a liberation in that. Sometimes i just write on little scraps of paper and then i glue-stick-'em into my fancier books. Whatever gets it outta my head, and onto paper!
      And thanks for the tip on the Diane Keaton book. I love her!

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  9. Welcome Mychal. We've all heard about Iona Handcrafted journals from Debs, so it is a treat to find you here this morning.

    I did have a little diary as a child, with a tiny keylock that a chipmunk could open. I have no memory of what I put in there, but I'm sure it was fun things, falling in love details, childish poetry, spew about how horribly unfair my parents were not to let me stay up past bedtime, things of that sort.

    I now have a blank journal, have been looking at it for awhile, thinking that during my self-imposed isolation, I might as well be writing about it.

    Maybe today would be a good day. I have a Toby-shaped hole in my heart this morning after losing my little black pomapoo to cardiomyopathy yesterday afternoon. Maybe it will be a place to let everything out.

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    1. Hugs to you for your loss, Ann. May your Toby-shaped hole be filled again as soon as you are ready.

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    2. Penny Lane will work hard to fill it, but at present she is looking all over for Toby, tore the bed apart last night trying to find him

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    3. Ann, I'm so sorry for the loss of your Toby. And poor Penny Lane! I take care of my brother's mini-dach, Nemo. We lost his sibling, the irrepressible Malcolm, last spring and it was so hard to watch Nemo's pain and bewilderment. Hugs to you all from Ohio.

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    4. Ann, hugs to you and Julie. I am so sorry for your loss. It is like losing a family member. Dear little Toby. Maybe you could start by just jotting down some of your favorite things about him. xx

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    5. Ann...so sorry about your Toby. That's such a tough thing to go through. Sometimes writing does help in those situations. And sometimes I begin to write, and i just start crying so hard that i can't continue. Maybe good to have waterproof ink. Hugs to you.

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  10. Mychal, I did just read your bookbinding story from the 2013 Jungle Red Blog! Fascinating! Your trip to Europe sounds very "coming of age." Learning bookbinding at the foot of a master in Italy. Coming home. Still traveling and trying this and that. Finding your vocation. Great story.

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    1. I feel really lucky to have found something i love so much! Truly blessed, indeed!

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  11. Welcome Mychal! Hope you survive the pandemic with some wonderful stories. I do not journal at all, use a yellow lined pad for notes or to handwrite scenes if a computer isn't available. My sister however journals a lot--and she has been able to remember details that would otherwise be lost. Her third memoir will be out in August as a product of those notes...

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    1. Lucy...funny you mention that. My beau and i dated 19 years ago for about 3 months, and i remember so much more about those months than he does(for better of for worse, haha!) because of the journals i kept during that time. He's always amazed by my memory of other incidents in my life, and i do think it is because i write them down. Photos and journals keep things in my brain longer!

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  12. I had at least one -- feels like maybe more> -- of the locked diaries as a girl. And I have journaled at various points in my life.I have not been consistent about it, but I have enjoyed it and found it helpful for several long periods of time.

    I notice that no one else seems to share my core problem with journaling, at least in the way that uses a cool tool like Mychal makes. My handwriting is nearly illegible -- even to me, if some time passes. I swear that if I was a child today, they would diagnose me with some kind of small motor skills issue. Instead, I have memories of sitting in a classroom practicing penmanship while the rest of the class did math problems. The teacher said to me, "I know you've got this math already, Susan. You just keep working on your writing." Now, I was the kind of student who was always motivated to please the teacher. If I had it in me to have learned to write better, I truly would have. But it seemed not physically possible for me.

    As a result, I started using a keyboard as early as possible. Now I'm hell on wheels at a keyboard, but my penmanship is probably worse than ever. I am not exaggerating when I say that if I return to my handwritten notes from a meeting 6 months later, and the subject isn't something I know well enough to guess the meaning from context, even I cannot read it. Thus I look longingly at those super cool journals and know that I need to capture my thoughts on boring, 8 1/2 X 11 bond paper spit out of a printer. Or on a website. But definitely NOT in longhand.

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    1. My penmanship is definitely worse than it used to be!

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    2. Same here...my handwriting has deteriorated. I notice that my fingers/hands also start cramping up if I try to write more than a page in longhand. And the calluses on my fingers (from writing in longhand for hours at work) have disappeared!

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    3. My handwriting was always "artistic" and got much worse when I had a job where I had to make fast notes during a live call-in radio show. Sometimes I can barely read what I have written in my journal. I write anyway. One trick I've learned is to slow down when I write longhand. Sometimes I use a fountain pen, which works great on Mychal's bamboo paper.

      Do you print out your computer journals and put the pages in some kind of binder, Susan? Or just keep them on the computer with the understanding that someday they will be gone?

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    4. Gigi -- both, kind of. Back in the days when we all used a physical day planner, I was in the habit of printing out pages and storing them in the binder where those calendar pages went. Since calendars have gone electronic, I'm not very reliable about printing them.....most will probably eventually disappear. Thank you, Gigi, for that prod!

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    5. I love that Gigi says her penmanship is "artistic." It is! Pretty and distinctive, but not cursive we were taught to write in grade school. And if you'll notice Mychal's handwriting in her journal excerpts, she prints! My handwriting is messy and not as striking as either of theirs but I still like writing things by hand even if I sometimes can't read the results. It's just a different experience. Like Gigi, I try to slow down, and I usually use a fountain pen, which I think makes a huge difference.

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    6. Susan, there is no shame in having illegible penmanship. My grandmother had difficult to read hand writing, and yet i LOVE the recipe cards I have of hers. Even if I will never be able to make those recipes...it just hold a little piece of her that a printout never could!

      I DO have pretty decent penmanship, which probably developed in high school from having to make legible "spirit posters" to hang in the hallways on game days. And then was reinforced in architecture school. But put me on a keyboard, and i use exactly half my fingers! My only C in high school was in typing! No wonder i gravitated toward journaling. I keep meaning to get a good fountain pen, like Debs and Gigi...but i keep using Uni-Ball pens due to my tendency to lose expensive things!

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  13. I don't journal now - I've tried, and I just done have the enthusiasm. The last time was when my son was little and I pledged to write every day of his first year, then someday I'd give him the book. It lasted maybe a week. Every day seemed the same, and I was just so tired by the end of the day, dealing with a newborn while chasing a 2-year-old.

    I did, however, have a journal as a kid. It was pink gingham but no characters, just flowers (maybe some girls, but not like Holly Hobbie or anything, just figures). And yes, it had a little lock. I'd write about the school day, my crushes, etc. I remember being so mad when my brother broke the lock and my mother scolded me for being upset because "he was just a little kid and it wasn't that important." Sigh. I seem to recall the magic of writing in the journal was lost after the lock broke and I stopped doing it.

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    1. Since I was the oldest child, and quite a bit older than my siblings (4, 6, and 8 years) she often expected me to be "more mature" than my years.

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    2. Ahhh, Liz! I'm the oldest of 3. It IS tough to be the oldest sometimes. I'm defintiely not always the "most mature"! ; )

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  15. My sister had the little pink leatherette diary with the lock. I did my first journaling in a weekly planner type calendar, writing tiny cramped paragraphs to sum up each day. I used small spiral bound notebooks in college and went back to the planners--only this time with beautiful photography--as an adult. Until, that is, I discovered Mychal and her beautiful books at the Main Street art fair in Fort Worth. I bought them when I could afford them and used hardbound sketchbooks when I couldn't. When Warren died Mychal kept me in a steady supply of beautiful journals with bright, colorful covers because black and brown didn't help to keep my spirits up just then. I wrote reams of nonsense, but it helped me get through. Since then I've always had a journal going, recording notes about my life, my books, my garden, my quilts. I love writing in them, and using colorful pens.

    I have given Mychal's journals to my friends, my family, and once to a singer/songwriter who was doing some of the renovation work on my house. He uses it for his lyrics, and told me how his friends envied it for its sheer coolness. So they should.

    I'm glad to hear that you're doing okay out in LA, Mychal. I told Deb, when I heard where you were, that if you two made it through this we'll know he was a keeper. Wishing you lots of love and luck and adventures, and a safe journey back to your shop when this is all over. The black buffalo-hide journal is the bomb!

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    1. As a side note, I did a presentation on quilt documentation once at quilt guild. I had all kinds of obsolete electronic media (anybody remember zip discs?) plus my own quilt documentation in one of Mychal's journals. My point was that, when your kids or grandkids go through your stuff after you die, they won't want to mess with your electronic files, but the journal will last in a form they can read. I had to slap a lot of fingers during that demo, because everybody was so eager to open the journal they were not really listening to me.

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    2. Your quilt journals are gorgeous, Gigi. Small works of art.

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    3. Gigi introduced me to Mychal's journals, but I'd kept a journal of some kind or other since high school. Many of them only have a few pages filled. I should probably tear out those bits and collage them into a new Iona:-)

      Gigi also got me hooked on fountain pens, so I hold her responsible!

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    4. Guilty on all charges, but unrepentant, as you are the one who said, "Oh, go ahead. Test drive the GT. What have you got to lose?" Deb and I are each others' shopping enablers.

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    5. I adore you ladies!! Thanks for all the love you throw my way! I AM enjoying being out here with Shiben. He keeps me laughing, is a fantastic cook, and pretty easy on the eyes! I hope to introduce y'all to him someday soon! He's pretty fantastic!

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  16. No little diaries for me. I started journaling in high school, when I began to write poetry--usually in the pages of my class notebooks. I graduated to plain binders--a different color for each year with college-lined notebook paper. Cheap, easy to expand if I ran out of paper. I have since gone through and saved out the poetry and some thoughts I wanted to keep, and jettisoned the rest. Now I rarely write, but I'm trying to remedy that.

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    1. Yes, Flora, I think it was writing poetry in junior high that got me started on the spiral bound journals, mixed in with the occasional pretty volume.

      You really should start again--we'll all give you a boost!

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    2. Flora...That's so cool you were able to "jettison" all the writings that no longer served you. I have a girlfriend who has just been doing a similar thing with her journals. She had over a hundred in a big heavy trunk. She started reading through them all, and ripping out the good bits, and letting go of the rest. That is so brave! At least it would take a lot of strength on my part to throw any of it out. I don't have trouble with getting rid of clothes, and other material items. But my writings...old letters from past loves.. why do i have so much trouble weeding through those, and letting them go? Attachment! argh!

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  17. I had diaries when I was a kid but never stuck with it for more than a page or two ... I need an assignment from someone else, preferably with a deadline - barring that some major league angst... nope being quarantined does not count­čĄĽ

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  18. Wondering if anyone has journaled with a partner?

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    1. Interesting idea, Hallie. Hmmm. Maybe there's a book in that...

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    2. I like that idea! Journaling with a partner. I've had lots of my customers tell me that's how they planned to use theirs. But i have never seen it in action. I've also know couples who lived in different cities that would write to each other in my journals and mail them back and forth. So romantic. Alas, my guy and i have not tried. He's a musician, and a great talker..but writing has never been his thing. :(

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  19. Here's the fixed link for the article in the New York Times by Jen A. Miller. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/13/smarter-living/why-you-should-start-a-coronavirus-diary.html?campaign_id=57&emc=edit_ne_20200413&instance_id=17616&nl=evening-briefing&regi_id=58125839&segment_id=25044&te=1&user_id=132ae19cc5ae1ed9845505cc19f0f96f

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  20. Your journals are lovely!

    I had to keep a journal in high school, which our teachers read and graded, which killed the entire purpose.

    I now keep a composition book with things like a plot outline, character bible, day-by-day calendar, and location map for whatever I'm writing.

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    1. Margaret, I have a slightly bigger Iona journal (7.5 x 10?) that I use for exactly that. That's where I keep hand drawn maps and floor plans and list of character names, etc. So nice to have this stuff in one place.

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    2. Thanks Margaret! I had a creative writing teacher who did the exact same thing! We had to write 2 pages a day, and she'd grade them at the end of each week. She claimed to not be reading them, but just making sure that we were writing daily. I often just wrote the lyrics to my favorite songs, because I was sure her curiosity would be way too strong to NOT read my innermost thoughts. who knows!

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  21. Oh, my dear Iona Handcrafted Books, how I miss you! Hang in there, Mychal, and my love to the other wonderful ladies of Iona. <3

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    1. Liana!!! Hi honey! Thanks so much! We miss you too! Hope you and yours are happy and healthy! May we all be hugging again very soon! xoxo

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  22. I love blank books, journals. I have a stack of them at home. Alas none here in AZ. I’m using my Rocketbook for notes for my current book. You can write a page, take a picture and it goes straight to Evernote or where you want to store it. But it’s not the same as a good journal!

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    1. Rhys, I use an online journaling app occasionally, too. It's nice that you can put in photos and it automatically dates and adds weather, etc., but it's just not the same as having a written journal.

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    2. Rhys..that sounds so cool! I've never heard of that! I love it! Shiben just bought me one of those tiny Fuji Inst printers that will print a photo via bluetooth from your phone! That is how i printed that photo of us in my LA journal above. I love that i can edit it (make ME look as good as possible! haha!)and then print it on the spot for my journals. I used to have to get myself down to the CVS to get them printed, and just save a spot on that page for the eventual photo. Technology certainly comes in handy from time to time! ;)

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  23. Mychal, what beautiful work you do. I’ve kept a journal since I was 14 - always in a blank book. Love, love, love them. Over the years, they have become more scrap bookish - tickets and postcards and such - and I just love going back and remembering what different moments in time felt like. Thanks for this post - now I want one of yours! Off to visit your website!

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    1. Thanks so much Jenn! That's exactly what i do! The tickets and the postcards sometimes replace all the things i wanna say. And when i go back and see those bits and pieces, all those memories flood back without a single word written!

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  24. Mychal, I remember your first blog for JRW, and drooled then over the beautiful craftsmanship of your journals.

    My daughters gave me a tooled leather journal with handmade paper pages to take with me on a two-week safari to Tanzania a few years ago. I drew pictures, and made notes on Swahili words and phrases, and kept lists of animals and birds we saw. It's a treasured possession, not least because of the sweet notes the girls left me at the front of the volume.

    When I was an angsty teenager I kept a diary of sorts in steno notebooks. They were in a box of my things that my mother threw out, without asking if I wanted to keep it. Probably just as well, really.

    The closest I've ever come to a daily journaling is to share too much here and on Facebook. True story.

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    1. Karen..I love that your daughters gave you a journal for your trip to Africa. it really can be the sweetest most thoughtful gift. And you filling it with your thoughts and experiences will be a great gift for them some day ( if you choose to share it with them!) Knowing our mothers have thoughts about things other than their children can be very eye-opening! :)

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  25. I've only ever journaled two times in my life - when I was going to school in London, and for an 18-day period when I was on safari in eastern Africa. Both of them were singular experiences, and I'm so glad I have the record, not only of what happened, but of my thoughts and feelings about what was going on around me. And despite the fact I don't actually write in journals, I LOVE them. I have several beautiful ones in leather that give me great pleasure - maybe it's the untapped potential in the blank pages?

    I've seen suggestions in several places that people keep a diary of this time - the ordinary and banal events will be first-hand history some day, when grateful scholars peruse our writings. I'm thinking of sharing the love, as it were, and sending out hand-written letters. I figure those will be just as rare - if not more so!- than diaries of our period.

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    1. Julia, your journals would be treasures, too! And I'd be fascinated by your London journals, if you are ever inclined to share some bits.

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    2. Yes Julia! Letters! Do it! I just received one from my brother for the first time in 10 or more years! I love his handwriting. It's the same as when we were kids! And i treasure the letters my grandmother, and my parents wrote to me in college. I have a whole box of them. My dad and grandmother are no longer with us, and though I can't hear their voices any longer, I sorta can through those hand written letters. So special!

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  26. Mychal, welcome to Jungle Reds! I am late to the party again because I am sick (sinus headaches). It seems to be gone for now. Reading your post about bookbinding reminded me of several things. When we went to the Bay Area Book Festival in San Francisco years ago, there was a bookbinding workshop. And I remember my father would create blank books with leather covers. He loved to work with leather.

    Have you read Kate Carlisle's mysteries? One of her series has a main character who is a bookbinder and also restores old books.

    Regarding journaling, I used to keep a journal when I was about five years old with my parents helping me write what happened during the day. We would write in the journal after dinner. I have been journaling on and off over the years. My college professor used to tell us to write in our journals daily to practice our writing skills. At this moment, I keep a Book Journal of books that I have read.

    Diana

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    1. Diana, I love that your parents would help you journal at such a young age. I have a "nephew" that lived with me for a few years. We'd give him a journal to take with him when we'd travel. He loved it at the time..mostly drawing and putting stickers in it. I wonder if he kept that up at all. I also love the idea of keeping a Book Journal, since I often forget what I've read! And I'll look up Kate Carlisle...sounds right up my alley! Thanks for the tip!

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    2. Thank you. I love Kate Carlisle. Her books are comfort reads for me. Wonderful about your "nephew". When I travelled on my own, I didn't quite keep a journal though I wrote postcards describing my travels to myself at my home address.

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  27. Mychal, with your examples of you journal pages, you've reminded me that journals can be lively, artistic (in many forms) pages of thoughts and expressions in which you not only write, but you include a picture or drawing or ticket or whatever. That really appeals to me. And, your journals are beautiful works of art in themselves. I find your bookbinding and journal-making career fascinating. I plan to visit your site after posting here.

    The journaling talk and the extension into including some non-writing materials has taken me back to the Brooklyn Museum, which I'm sure most of you know is an art museum, and their Sketchbook Project they did. You didn't have to be an artist to participate. It was a global project in which people requested to participate and were sent a journal with blank, unlined pages to fill with images to express themselves or an idea or a theme or whatever. They each have a catalogue number and are digitized, too. You can Google the project or the museum to find out more information, and there's even a FB page at https://www.facebook.com/SketchbookProject/ And, I noticed there were some posts about Creativity During Quarantine there. So, I'm thinking combining the art (I'd need pics, as I'm not an artist) and writing in a journal would be fun for me.

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    1. Kathy, I have a little Canon Selfy printer which I use when I want to print photos to add to my journals. I've even taken it with me to London. Although I must say I was too busy to use it much and later regretted the weight lol.

      I will look up the SketchbookProject--very cool!

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    2. Kathy, yes I have heard of that, but didn't realize there was a website! I love that you didn't have to be an artist to participate. I really don't consider myself an artist at all. I can't draw or paint, or create much of anything other than making books, which i mostly consider a "craft". But i would've loved to participate in something like that where there was no real pressure to be super artsy. I will have to check that out. Thanks for sharing that!

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  28. Mychal, lovely products you create! I kept a diary for a time when I was learning shorthand so I thought it would be brilliant (and secret) if I did entries that way. Of course, when I rediscovered the diary years later it was a secret to me as well since my shorthand skills were gone. When I traveled in the UK with my sister during the 90s and early 00s she kept a daily journal and when our trips were finished she collated everything and created beautiful books which she gave to me. They are precious and great for armchair travel now.

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    1. What a fabulous thing, Emily! How I wish I'd kept a journal of all my UK travels in the late 70s.

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    2. That's funny about the shorthand! And that an amazing gift your sister gave you, Emily! I love that she did that! Sisters are the best!

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  29. Running in SO late! I love journals, too, the books themselves, but generally give up writing them.I very diligently kept one , though, in one of my first reporter years. I was so delighted when I found it--but it as SO BORING! And then and then and then...all plot, I see now, no character development. :-) Mychal, SO gorgeous!

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    1. Thanks Hank! And yes, lots of plot. ;) I'm working on my own personal character development during this very surreal time. I THINK I'm doing ok. But we'll see after another month of this shelter-in-place thing! haha

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