Review (Sort of): Write Notepads & Co.

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Disclaimer: I saw these notebooks in a post on author Richard Kadrey’s Facebook feed the the other day. I bought some because they looked nice and they weren’t super expensive. The company has absolutely no investment in this article whatsoever.

This is a notebook review. Sort of.

c. Write Notepads & Co.
c. Write Notepads & Co.

Like many writers, I’m obsessed with office supplies. Always on the quest for the perfect pen, the best notebook. Why? No clue. It’s encoded with the storytelling gene in some inexplicable way. Call it a sacrifice to the Muses. I cannot begin to calculate my thirty-year total expenditure in the search for said writing implement (which I still haven’t found, though I swear I’m getting closer each time). The number of notebooks I’ve purchased could reforest a medium-sized island.

For the majority of my handwritten work, I use a Livescribe wi-fi Pen and notebook because I am paranoid. Well, I suppose it’s not strictly speaking paranoia if you lose stuff all the time like I do. Or spill coffee on it. Or have small children. Or once lost the last third of a book when Word had a brain fart. Anyway, backup is good. The Livescribe allows me to step away from the computer and internet, provided I still have a wi-fi connection and work while, at the same time, backing up to an app on my phone; later, I can convert each of those files to a .pdf and secure them on Google Drive. And email them to myself. And…

But sometimes, when I’m stuck, I need to step away from the tech and go full-on ye olde school. Ye olde school has some requirements: it must fit in my bag without taking up too much space because on a typical day. I also always have the WiFi notebook and at least one book with me, plus glasses, wallet, comics… you get the point. I also have to be able to carry ye olde school with me at all times, lest I be distracted by dinner burning, permission slips, or a tiny three-year-old dictator needing to put her Elsa dress on right this second lest something super dire will happen. Ye olde school must be large enough to contain a good number of words but light enough so as not to be a burden. It must look nice because I’m shallow where paper goods are concerned (Il Papyro is one of my kryptonites). Ye olde school must be durable, because spills are inevitable and it will be traveling a lot of miles. It must accommodate fountain pen because I use those sometimes. (What? I said “ye olde school” like, fifteen times. I wasn’t kidding.)

The Write Notepads and Co. journals meet all of these requirements.

c. Write Notepads & Co.
c. Write Notepads & Co.

The spiral is a brass color, which is, in my opinion, more attractive by virtue of not screaming school!!!!!! the way silver tone tends and there are no stray ends or hooks to catch on clothes or bags. The journals are made from one hundred percent post-consumer recycled materials but have none of the fade or discoloration on either covers or pages; the occasional imperfection on the paper due to the reuse process is actually quite pretty and the paper maintains a uniform texture where many recycled papers are bumpy and inconsistent. It also takes all kinds of ink with out any smearing or bleeding.

c. Shiri Sondheimer. Pens, from left to right are: Lamay Safari Fountain Pen, Levenger True Writer Ballpoint, and Lamay Safari Rollerball
c. Shiri Sondheimer. Pens, from left to right are: Lamy Safari Fountain Pen, Levenger True Writer Ballpoint, and Lamy Safari Rollerball

The pages are college ruled, which I, with my sometimes difficult handwriting, prefer because it forces me to pay more attention to the size and shape of my letters so that they fit. The pages are perforated so they can be removed and reordered without ruining the look or function of the notebook (though unlike the wonderful, but hella expensive Levenger Circa notebooks, the pages can’t be reinserted into the spine).

There is a steno option, which I don’t use but I know some of you may prefer. There are pocket options, which aren’t so much my thing but I know some people like to have them about. The 5 1/2″ by 8 1/2″ journal-sized notebooks fit perfectly in my bag and have the perfect number of pages to be useful without adding much weight to my normal, usually heavy, load.

There is a left-handed version—something I always look out for because I know a lot of lefties.

The covers are either plain or embossed with lovely line art, most of the options being landmarks in the Baltimore area, though the D.C. skyline, several New York neighborhoods, and Cape Cod (my personal choice) are also available. Each notebook comes with a heavy-duty rubber band you can use as a place holder or to keep those nicely perforated pages from running away.

You can choose to have your purchases personalized and can custom order for business or other needs.

My only complaint, and it’s a very minor one: the ruling is slightly smudged on the back of some of the pages. Not enough to interfere with being able to read what I’ve written (any more than usual, that is) but enough so that I noticed.

The real reason I wanted to talk about Write Notepads, however, is this:

Photo c. SW Sondheimer
Photo c. Shiri Sondheimer

Education.

You’ve seen the studies. You know how behind the rest of the world the U.S. is, educationally speaking. You hope your kids won’t become a statistic, but even if they attend an elite private school, we’re starting at a deficit. For many kids, especially those who live in urban areas, they’re in the hole from go and it’s nearly impossible for them to catch up.

Write Notepads and Co. gives you a chance to change that each time you buy one of their products.

For each notebook purchased, they donate a notebook to one of the Baltimore public schools.

A notebook may not sound like much to you or to me. To a kid who can’t afford one, to schools that can’t afford computers and iPads and all other manner of learning tools, it can mean the difference between learning a skill and being left behind. Between being another failed test grade in an underfunded school in a disadvantaged city and developing a love of learning.

Maybe the donation from your book goes to the next Robert Pinsky, gives her a place to write her first poem. Maybe it goes to the next Einstein, giving him a place to write out that first algebra problem. Or maybe they go to kids who need them to learn to write, to read, to add, all the basic skills so many of us take for granted but which are so vital to making a better life for oneself.

Each notebook has a code inside the front cover; you can go to Writepad’s website and input it to see which school your specific notebook benefited.

Donating to charity is great. Everyone should do it, and sometimes we should do it without expectation of receiving anything in return. But, since you’re buying notebooks anyway, you might as well paper all the walls with one stone. The next book in your hands may have been written in one of those donated notebooks. The formula for a medication that saves the life of someone you love may have been developed in another.

Or maybe, you made a little kid’s day by giving them a gift no one else has given them before. Maybe you show her you care about her education. And maybe, that makes all the difference.