02 December 2012

Reader Under the Spotlight - Wendy

Today I would like to introduce you to Wendy. 
My name is Wendy Van Camp and I blog about writing, writing tools, and novels at No Wasted Ink. I'm 47 years old and have been married to the same wonderful guy for seventeen years.  We make our home in Southern California.  I'm a self-employed artisan jeweller and certified gemologist with a sideline of writing novels, short stories and articles.  My life is full of travel on off-beaten paths to beautiful parks, mountain top forests, and resort hotels in the American Southwest. This is balanced by time creating jewellery or writing in my office studio. 

Often times I live without electricity or cell phone service while I'm attending concerts, festivals, or conventions for my work.  I've grown tired of experiencing tech fail while on the road. 

This has been the reason behind my new love for the Filofax. Paper never runs out of batteries, the information doesn't get accidentally deleted, and using paper along with a fountain pen makes me feel happy.  So I'm now journal binding, filling composition notebooks with research notes, re-learning penmanship/calligraphy, and happily using Filofax to organize all my creative pursuits in wonderful analog style.  Paper is a good thing.

1. When did you buy your first Filofax and what was it?

I received my first Filofax in January of 2012.  A fellow Nanowrimo writer from England owned a Filofax that she used as a writing journal. She was a true enabler! I fell in love with the quality leather and all the pockets and thought that it would be the perfect organizer for my own writer's journal.  My husband bought me a Personal Crimson Malden as a late Christmas present.  I use it everyday for novel research notes and to track the posts and marketing of my writing blog.

2. What other brands have you used or considered using?

I had always used Day-Timer in the past when I have used paper organizers.  I had one when I was in college during the late 1980s, but lost it as I switched over to electronic PDAs or online calendars as I started my career.  A few years ago, I bought a Day-Timer with a puffy plastic cover to use as a Flylady control journal, but due to its cheap construction I found that I did not like using it and eventually it found a home in a lower closet drawer.  I tried to use this cheap binder for my writing journal briefly, but in the end I couldn't see myself using it.

3. Out of the organisers you own which is your current favourite (Style and Size)?

My favorite is the Personal Crimson Malden.  I love the color and the feel of the leather.  It has more pockets than I need, but I don't view this as bad.

4. How many Filofax organisers do you own?

I own two Filofax organizers currently.  The above mentioned Personal Crimson Malden and a new Slimline Brown Holborn.

5. What do you use your Filofax for?

I am surprised at how well the Slimline Holborn is working as a wallet.  The leather is very soft, but durable.  The brown color is rich, but subdued enough to carry everyday.  The size and thinness of the binder has turned out to be a good fit for my purse.  I do not keep a diary in the Holborn as I prefer to use a pocket Moleskine for this task. The lack of diary pages helps to keep the binder slim enough to be useful.  The Holborn holds my credit cards, cash, and a section for ToDos and Lists.  I am compiling a travel directory in the back for hotels, resorts, restaurants that are color coded as to region so that I have that information when I travel.  I eventually want to put in driving guides to some of the work locations that I re-visit each year to make finding parking or less known routes easier for me to remember.  I don't like to store this information on my smartphone because I need to leave my phone off as I travel to conserve power.  This allows me access to the information without worry about batteries, if my phone's apps are working or not, and everything is easy to find unlike the jumble that is my smartphone directory.

My Personal Crimson Malden is my writing journal.  The diary is where I track what is being posted on my writing blog, I keep lists of blog ideas or other notes in a center section, and the back section is reserved for research notes, character sketches and other related information for my current novel project.  The research notes are printed onto filofax paper via my Scrivener writing program.  I keep the program and the printed notes in sync on a regular basis.  I use the Malden to take notes at writing seminars as well, although lately I am thinking of developing another binder for that use alone.  I might consider an A5 or a Filofax Flex combined with a notebook for this task next year.

6. What was the feature about Filofax you like most?

I love the feel of the leather and the classic good looks of the binders.  I don't go for fashion and flash, I want something that feels good in my hand and is durable.  A Filofax should last for years and keep looking stylish in an understated, conservative way.

7. If you could design your own Filofax what would it feature?

First, it would have a soft and good quality leather like my Malden or Holborn.  Being touchable is a big selling point with me. I also like a good selection of color beyond basic black.  My favorite colors are red, purple, brown, or blue.  Second, I like to have plenty of pockets and fewer zipped pockets in the binder.  The notebook pocket in the back is a big selling point to me.  Finally, a pen loop that is a combination of leather on the top for looks and elastic in the back so I can fit a wide variety of pens in the binder.

8. How do you carry your Filofax?

My Malden is on my desk near my computer or in my laptop tote bag when I am writing on the go.  My Holborn remains in my purse.

9. Which Filofax in the current range do you like the most? Are you going to buy it?

I am in love with the brown Regency in compact.  The ostrich printed leather is beautiful and the pocket layout seems ideal for a wallet. However, due to its high price tag I decided to try the less expensive Slimline Holborn instead.  As much as I would like to buy the Regency, unless it is gifted to me, I will pass on it due to the price.  The Slimline Holborn has turned out better than my expectations and has fit the role I've chosen for it well.

10. What is the most you have ever spent on a Filofax? Which model?

The Crimson Malden was the most expensive.  My husband paid full retail for it at Pens&Leather.  I paid below retail for my Holborn from a vendor on eBay, but it was not a deep discount.  The Slimline Holborn was in pristine condition and I have no complaints using eBay to purchase a Filofax as apposed to a retail vendor.

11. Turning to Philofaxy, what do you like the most?

I love the sense of community here.  I enjoy viewing all the links to other people's blogs that also enjoy binders, stationary and Filofax.  I have participated in the Skype chat a few times and like talking in real time with fellow Filofax lovers from all over the world.  All the tips on the blog have helped me learn to use my binders more effectively and have given me new ideas on how to customize mine to make them more pleasing to use. I end up visiting this blog quite often.

12. And what do you not like about Philofaxy?

To be honest, there is nothing that I dislike about the Philofaxy blog.  It has great content and is updated often.  What is there not to love?

13. What was the last music album CD you bought or downloaded?

I'm still old-fashioned enough that I prefer to buy physical CDs.  My last CD was purchased directly from the musicians at a local Highland Games where the band was performing live.  It is "Ready for the Storm" by The Brown Sisters and George Cavanaugh.

Thank you Wendy for agreeing to go under our spotlight. As always if you would like to feature in a future Reader Under the Spotlight, please contact us at Philofaxy.


  1. Hi Wendy. Really enjoyed reading about your collection and the uses, especially the writing. I have also newly discovered fountain pens and the pleasure of writing with one. Particularly interested in your thoughts on Scrivener versus other software you may have tried? I think a Filofax (or any ohter) binder lends itself perfectly to use as an aid for writers, and the flexibility is superb. And I'm sure many of us on here agree with the rationale behind taking offline periods, its a rare pleasure these days.

    1. I'm a total Scrivener convert. The program has a great deal of flexibility so it can work with you whatever your style of writing. I view it more as an organizer of my novel and research than a word processor, although it certainly provides that function if you want it to. I don't often use Scrivener as a place to rough draft, unless the project is short such as a blog post, but for revision and organization, it has transformed my writing process. Other programs that I have used are MS Word, Abi Word, Wordpad and Evernote.

      I keep MS Word since there are still publishers or corporations that will only accept manuscripts in that format, but I generally do my writing in Scrivener and then export to MS Word. Wordpad I use when I want to create text without extra coding inserted into it. Evernote is good for research notes on the fly since it syncs with all my electronic gizmos. I don't recommend Abi Word. I have dropped using it in favor of MS Word.

  2. Hi Wendy, thank you for such an interesting post. I was particularly happy to find another low-tech protagonist - I agree with all your thoughts about tech failure, and have experienced my fair share - enough for me to have become convinced that paper is the way to go.

    Do you do your writing on paper? How do you do your blog posts when off-grid?

    We're currently considering going off-Web as we downsize towards moving in February.....if you have any experience of this I'd be interested to hear it.

    Thanks again for a most interesting post, and greetings from Wales, UK.

    Best wishes


    1. I am coming to believe that the shift to total tech is not a good idea. Paper still has a place in our lives, but I believe its uses will change as time goes on. In many ways, paper is superior to tech and in others tech is. As a culture, we will eventually discover a balance between the two.

      I write on paper, but not as much as I used to back before the "age of information" started. For a long time I gave up on paper and tried to as paperless as possible. In the past two years I have revised this notion and have been re-introducing paper back into my life, but for certain uses, not as a general go to solution for everything.

      I use composition notebooks where I freeform ideas for my novels which then become outlines for my larger projects. I write in them with a fountain pen when I can. Writing by hand slows down the process and I find that I remember what I write by hand more than what I write on a screen. When I transfer handwritten notes to Scrivener, the text gets an automatic revision. I will write the rough draft on an Alphasmart Neo, basically a digital typewriter with no internet access and then upload the text into Scrivener for organization. I also keep a Moleskine diary to be my daily planner, I write todo lists on paper which I keep in my Filofax and I keep my master phone list on paper with only the most used numbers on my smartphone. I also journal in a notebook with a fountain pen for pleasure. That being said, I don't view paper as the superior way to store written information. It takes up lots of room. I am currently developing a system to scan my handwritten and general information and saving it digitally.

      As for being off-web, it is easy enough to do. I like to remain connected to the world, but due to my work that is often not possible. When I write during boondocking or dry-camping times, I will generally use the Alphasmart Neo. The batteries in it are good for 700 hours, so I am never without power and anything I write in it is instantly transferable to any writing prompt. The machine is extremely stable and instantly saves every keystoke. There is no chance of losing your data in the Neo. I can comfortably work on my novels, blog posts or letters in this manner. When I get a chance during my travels, I go down the mountain to a Starbucks and use their public wifi to connect with the internet and send my information where it needs to go, or simply wait and upload when I get home.

      When you are off-grid, you have to develop a certain amount of patience when it comes to connections. Instant gratification is not always possible. I like the time away from the modern world and the pace it demands. It can be rejuvenating.

      For example: I know of a professional travel writer that travels via a boat and uses his Neo to write on the deck of his vessel while away from cell phone signal and then uploads the text via his smartphone when he gets to port. I'm rather envious of his life-style, it is even more free than mine. :)