Thoughts on Pens

I’ve never liked writing with pens. I’ve always preferred pencils, mostly mechanical. My handwriting is fairly attrocious, but I found the friction of the right graphite on paper slowed me down enough to be legible while not so much as to cause me to loose whatever thought I was hoping to preserve.

Recently I’ve found myself trying to find a pen that I can use comfortably. I’m not completely sure what caused me to want to switch to pens after all these years. The fact that pencils have a high tendency to fade over time has something to do with it.

One pen I’ve found I really like is the Paper Mate PhD Multi. Twisting this pen switches it between a pen, a PDA stylus, and a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil. It appears that you can replace the stylus with an additional pen refill, but I haven’t been able to find them in any color but black. Having red ink, black ink, and the pencil would be best for me. I wasn’t crazy about the included pencil leads, but I just replace them with some 2B which is simple enough. I really like the way this pen feels in my hand.

Unfortunately, the PhD is a bit large to stick in your pocket all the time, so I’ve also been using a Bullet Pen from Fisher Space Pens. When caped it’s just over half the size of a standard pen, and the cap isn’t just going to fall off in your pocket. The clip on the other hand, fell off when I breathed on it wrong, but a little Krazy Glue fixed that. It should write underwater or in outer space, and in temperatures of -30° to 250° F, which in New England should be pretty useful. It does clump occasionally, but I know it’s always going to write, even in the strangest situations. I find that comforting somehow.

1-Pass Day 33 (71519/93173)

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Made some more progress last night. I’m feeling pretty ready to be done now. If anyone has some spare time they can lend me, I’d appreciate it.

Totally unrelated, but I found this pretty amusing. Oh, and if anyone wants to buy me one of these, I wouldn’t complain. I have just the spot for it in the yard.

1-Pass Day 32 (68501/94126)

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This morning I had a great momentum going, and had life allowed it to continue I may have finished the whole thing today. Still, not a bad day all said.

The next scene is very fast paced and covered with corrections, and my eyes are crossing, so I think that’s it for tonight.

You write fantasy? Isn’t that a lot of work?

Holly Lisle posted the the introduction to Holly Lisle‚Äôs Create A Culture Clinic, the next volume in her Worldbuilding Course. Reading it really drove some things home for me. My wife often asks why I choose to write stories set in a fantasy world that I have to create, giving myself that much extra work to do (other people ask too, but she asks most often). There are two problems with that. Firstly, it’s not so much a choice so much as when I sit down to write, I write fantasy stories. I didn’t make a conscious decision to write fantasy stories. Secondly, I don’t think it is more work.

No one seems to believe me on either of those, but the second one seems to dwarf the first in peoples minds. How can I possibly believe such a thing? Because it’s true.

If I want to have a race of purple headed bird people in my world I have some work to do. How to they interact with other races? How are their lives different than humans? What’s their history? Do they speak their own language? Do they eat worms? That’s just the start, and perhaps these violet faced flying folk will only play a passing role in my story.

What’s that? I’m failing to prove my point? Be patient.

If I want to set a story in modern day Saginaw, Michigan, where I’ve never been, I still have quite a bit of work to do. What are the people like? What’s the economic and social structure? What local slang is in use, and by what age groups? What clothing lines are popular with high schoolers? What’s the ethnic makeup of the city? What color are the police cars? How many schools do they have? That too is just the start.

See, in the fantasy world, I make my own answers. Sure I have to make them work in a believable context, and I might make some stupid choices I have to later deal with in some way, but I can’t really be wrong. After all, I’m the world authority on those purple headed bird people. You might think people will be forgiving in the second scenario. It’s only fiction after all, right? Not that I’ve seen. Authors who take liberties with the world we live in get ripped apart. Maybe not all the time, but I’ve seen it happen about really stupid stuff.

So why not write about my hometown, or somewhere I know more about firsthand? I’ve always felt I had a lot of good reasons why I chose not to do that. But Holly’s introduction gave me another one by pointing out a big danger in writing about the world you live in. If you fail to capture the culture in the story, once the culture changes you’re story will no longer work. Yikes! It’s not that it can’t be done, and maybe I could do it, but it sounds like a lot of extra work.

One Pass Type-in: The Pages

Type-in Example

I figured some of you may be wondering what the pages I’m working on now look like (or not, but I wanted to break up the word count posts). Here are two random pages from the current stack on my document holder. This are pretty representative. Some pages have only one correction, some are crossed out entirely, and some have little circled numbers, referring me to the new handwritten scenes to insert.

Also, congratulations to Kathleen Bolton who just finished a One Pass Revision, and posted her thoughts on the process.