#MyJournalStory: Susan @susanj.barrett

September 07, 2020

#MyJournalStory: Susan @susanj.barrett

My introduction to Washi tape and journaling came by way of Instagram and, more specifically, the bookstagram hashtag.

I joined bookstagram in June 2018, after a fellow indie-author told me about the amazing community of book readers and writers that exist on the Gram. I found myself scrolling through streams of beautiful and inspiring images, and joining in some great conversations about books and bookish habits. I’ve read books I’d never have thought about picking up, discovered new authors who’ve become favorites, and learned a heap about writing too.

Like so many people I’ve met on the platform, I love beautiful stationery. I’m a sucker for a pretty notebook, and I have a modest (cough), collection.
While I do all my writing on my MacBook, I use notebooks for capturing ideas, brainstorming blurbs for my book, creating character outlines, tracking my activity and planning my Instagram posts. Obviously, you need a separate, beautiful notebook for each of these things, and you definitely need a separate notebook for each work in progress. (That’s some sort of writerly law, I’m certain.)

I’m also a big lover of anything Japanese. I spent two weeks touring Japan in April 2019, slap-bang in the middle of the ‘Sakura’ (cherry blossom) season (our timing was perfect), and let me tell you, their stationery is to die for.
And so, it was fate really, that brought washi tape and l together. Call it an OTP*, if you like.
I use my journal to plan and track my bookish activity throughout the month. My journaling skills are definitely at the shallow end of ‘amateur’, especially compared to some of the awe-inspiring creations I see on Insta, but as Theodore Roosevelt (amongst others) has been credited with saying, “Comparison is the thief of joy.” Now, he was a pretty smart guy, so in my book, those are wise words. In other words: “Don’t sweat it, honey.” (Marti Maraschino - Pink Lady, and clearly, an insightful philosopher).
So I do my thing and don’t worry too much about how it compares, because we all have to start somewhere, right? Do what brings you joy, that’s my mantra (so long as it’s not bringing others pain and misery, obvs), and the Bookstagram community is far too lovely to criticize your lettering skills anyway. 
They really are, by the way. I’ve never come across such a supportive and giving social media community. I’m convinced there’s some sort of digital fence that keeps all the trolls out. Anyhow, I digress…

I do a mixture of goal setting and activity tracking in my journal, so at the beginning of the month I’ll post a spread with the things I’m tracking or would like to achieve in the coming month, and then as part of my wrap-up post, I’ll share a picture of how the month went, including the books I’ve read with a rating, books I’ve hauled**, my favorite read of the month and progress with my WIP***. Which, not being one to miss a marketing opportunity, I suppose I should mention.
I’m writing a middle-grade series about a ten-year-old girl called Layla, whose idyllic childhood is interrupted by the sudden arrest of her much-loved guardian, Carmel. Layla happens to be a Reincarnated Individual (RI), a human clone living in a world where you can pay to be ‘born again’. Layla enlists the help of her friends to discover the identity of the true perpetrator. The trouble is, the stolen DNA turns out to be a bit more unique than everyone thought. Unfortunately, she and her friends aren’t the only ones who know about it.  Eeek!

Book one; Layla Garina and the Second Chance Agency is available from Amazon in ebook and paperback formats at an incredibly reasonable price, and if you’re a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, you can read the ebook for free! Isn’t that great? Amazon has this clever thing where you can read the first few pages to see if you like it; genius.
I’ve recently finished the first draft of book two, and am about to enter the editing trenches - wish me luck and godspeed!

Now, where were we? Oh yes, washi tape. So, one amazing day, I was scrolling through my feed and saw a post from the Washi Tape Shop. You know that scene in The Jungle Book, where Kaa sings ‘Trust in me...’? Well, my encounter with that picture was something akin to Mowgli’s experience in the movie. In a trance-like state (brought on by a heady rush of aesthetic pleasure) I checked out their site, and my first thought was that the shipping would kill me, being UK based. Then, having discovered (to my surprise and delight) that shipping was free, I will admit to wondering whether the product would be as beautiful as it looks in their pictures. However, not only is it gorgeous, but the packaging is equally lovely, really thoughtfully designed, and my order arrived super-fast. And it looks ace in my pictures.🤩  There’s only one thing wrong with it; it’s far too pretty to use.
If you’re on Instagram, come on over and say hi: @susanj.barrett, especially if you’re into books, writing, and stationery.
*Bookish terminology, short for ‘One True Pairing’, meaning a star-crossed couple destined to spend the rest of their lives desperately and overwhelmingly in love. Think Elizabeth Bennet (it is one t; I checked) and Mr Darcy, or maybe Hermione and Ron, if they’re more to your taste.

**More bookish jargon, meaning ‘acquired’.

***This is not a reference to a specific type of ‘romance’ genre, popularised by E.L. James, but short for ‘work in progress’. 50 Shades was a cracking read though, am I right? (Please don’t @ me if you’re a highbrow literary maven, I’ve mentioned the classics too, so back in your bookish box. Hugs.)

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