Journals are pretty much the bane of my existence. There are so many beautiful ones out there. Ones with leather bindings, magnetic closures, fancy mechanical closures, embossing, foil embellishment, pages to track your reading, questions to help you write—THERE ARE SO MANY. But no matter how enticing they are, no matter how much I want to run my hands over their beautiful bindings and ingenious closures I have to stop myself because I don’t write in journals.

I have a desk drawer that is full of empty journals. Some of them I purchased, but the majority of them were given to me over the years by well meaning people who decided that the present you should buy a writer is a journal. I get where these people are coming from—after all, I have purchased an amazing number of journals on my own—but not all writers use journals and I am definitely a writer who doesn’t use journals. I like working on outlines by hand, and I love the idea of story bibles, but I can’t translate either of those things into writing in journals.

To me, a journal with a cover sets the theme of the content inside. That means a journal with say, Anakin Skywalker on the cover, should be used for Star Wars fanfiction, or at least something fandom-y, or Star Wars-y. A journal with frogs on the cover might be more generic, but I’m not going to use it to plan a sci-fi time travel story or start drafting my next steampunk adventure. So, if a journal I own doesn’t match a project I want to write, I feel like it’s the “wrong” journal to use. Thus, it sits in the drawer, waiting for the right project.

So when the right project comes along, I immediately go for that journal, right? Wrong. What if I “mess up” the journal? What if when you open that beautiful journal with the leather bindings and the mechanical clasp all you find inside is scratched out names and wrong details about characters or outlines of a book I abandoned? What if I wait until I’ve done the dirty work and start transcribing it into a journal to make a story bible, but change my mind while I’m writing? How will I live with myself knowing I ruined that book!? Thus, it still sits in a drawer, waiting for me to finish the novel and then write the story bible after the fact. (I’ve never done this, but it’s the only thing I can think of that would satisfy my perfectionist fears.)

It’s easier for me to admit that I don’t write in journals. I’ve tried a few times to force myself past my neuroses—and I do actually keep a bullet journal that is far messier than I would like—but using journals for fiction isn’t something I’ve been able to do. I finally started giving away my collection of empty journals, and I’ve repurposed a few, using one to keep track of editorial work and another to jot questions for phone interviews, but ultimately I don’t write in journals. So please, when you’re thinking about giving your writer a gift, ask yourself if a journal is really the right thing.

A while ago when I was soliciting ideas for blog posts, a friend suggested writing about why I love DragonCon. I attempted to write this post three times before giving up and deciding to write it after this year’s convention (I’d be more inspired then, right?). Well, it’s after this year’s convention and I’m still struggling to write this post because it’s difficult to articulate exactly what I love about DragonCon.

  • Waking up to a room filled with my sleeping friends.
  • Lunchtime conversations drifting from “What If Harry Potter was Sorted into a Different House?” to a discussion that AUs and What Ifs are only interesting because the original canon (or history) exists as a divergent point.
  • Giving and receiving book recommendations from friends and strangers, and talking about one of the best books I read this year (Defy the Stars) with the author (Claudia Gray) and then telling her about the book I’m currently querying and the one I’m currently writing.
  • A phalanx of handmaidens marching in the DragonCon parade, followed up by a T-Rex handmaiden.
  • The hideously beautiful Marriott carpet being immortalized in buttons, shirts, lanyards, and various cosplay including a Marriott Carpet Spider-Man.
  • Writing in the bathroom in the wee hours every morning to not bother my roommates but still meet my daily writing goals.
  • Being tapped to run the mic at a guest Q&A and having someone lined up recognize me because I’ve worked with the Military Sci-Fi Media track on and off for eleven years.
  • Chatting with a dieselpunk podcaster about the genre and examining if there is a difference between dieselpunk and decopunk. (We didn’t come up with a definitive answer, but I have a lot to consider.)
  • Talking to Cherie Priest for about fifteen minutes about Cassadaga, a spiritualist camp about an hour from home that was the subject of her book Brimstone.
  • Sitting on a roof with my DragonCon family, sharing stories, singing, and mostly laughing as we held a wake for our friend who passed away two weeks before this year’s DragonCon.

As chaotic and huge as DragonCon is, as much as it can be about the costumes or the vendor hall or the celebrity guests, DragonCon is about found families. This was my fifteenth DragonCon and, as time goes on, it just gets harder to explain why I love it. I first fell in love with DragonCon for being a fun place to talk about fandom and engage in things to geek out over, but the romance has lasted because DragonCon has become a family reunion. I still have one-off experiences that delight me, but the reason I attend year after year is to see people I love and to be embraced by a community. I’m sure there are people who can see DragonCon as just another convention, but I have a piece of the Marriott carpet framed on my wall. While the reasons might be difficult to articulate, I love DragonCon and I’m already looking forward to 2018.

You can hear more about my DragonCon 2017 experience in this week’s episode of Cinescopers.

Last week I attended DragonCon and while I intended to write a post for this week extolling the reasons I love that convention, I spent the majority of this week preparing for a hurricane. It was a little reminder that even the best laid plans can be run off course (or wobble excessively as in the case of Irma).

In addition to hurricane prep and clean up (and recovery from DragonCon), I’ve also been taking care of some additional felines during what a friend dubbed Catocalypse. Boogie (our inside cat) was joined for three days by Pink, the black and white formerly feral cat who hangs out inside during inclement weather, and Maz, Pink’s tuxedo sister who was fully domesticated and adopted by my friends.

Instead of my words this week, I give you cat pictures. I’m very much in a mental position for cat pictures.

Catocalypse was less daunting than we thought it would be. Boogie and Pink got along better than they normally do, and we only had to quarantine Maz, who apparently has forgotten she knows both of these cats. All three cats were fairly calm during the storm, and Boogie even taught Pink how to use the litter box.

Here’s hoping for a more restful week!