From Farscape to Fountain Pens

The Write Gear #9: From Farscape to Fountain Pens

When I was a wee Tempest, I read in some book by a fancy author that all real writers write with fountain pens. And being a dutiful person who wanted to be a real writer, I took this to heart and went out and bought a fountain pen. And for a few days it was The Best, and then it got ink everywhere and became The Worst.

Does this experience feel familiar to any of you? I bet it does. Fountain pens do seem a proper tool for those of us who still write by hand (more thoughts on that on an earlier post). They may also seem daunting. Are inexpensive fountain pens even any good? If you want something that will last, where do you even go to figure it out? Is dealing with ink as fraught as it seems?

I decided to put these and other newbie questions to Richard Manning, screenwriter, producer, and fountain pen geek. Richard was a producer on Farscape, and started down the long, twisty path to fountain pen love thanks to seeing a certain actor’s fancy Montblanc. Which actor? You’ll just have to listen to our nerdy pen conversation to find out.

Listen to TWG #9: From Farscape to Fountain Pens – A Conversation with Richard Manning right here or subscribe in iTunes

      The Write Gear: Episode 9

There are links to all the pens and inks and websites Richard mentions in the show notes.

So, where my fountain pen geeks at? Fly your flag in the comments or over on Twitter with the hashtag #FountainPenLove.

The Write Gear best pen episode

The Write Gear Episode 5: Is The uni-ball Jetstream Really The Best Pen?

The Write Gear best pen episode

A couple of years ago a website called The Wirecutter published their recommendation for Best (non-fountain) Pen Ever. This post is over 6,000 words long, and not only gets into which pen they picked as the best and why, but also about types of pens and the differences between them and what qualities they were looking for in determining a Best Pen. Intrigued by all the gushing about their pick, the uni-ball Jetstream, I decided to try it and compare to my favorite pens. You can find out if I ditched by Pentel EnerGels for the Jetsteam in the podcast.

I also ask: is it really possible to determine a Best Pen for everyone? Plus, I wanna know what everyone else’s favorite pens are and why.

Listen to TWG #5: Is The uni-ball Jetstream Really The Best Pen? right here or subscribe in iTunes

      The Write Gear: Episode 5

Notebooks, Pens, Longhand, and Cracking Open Creative Floodgates

I love paper by Manuela Hoffmann on Flickr

Still thinking about the concepts I brought up in the Gesture Writing post from last week. One piece of the process I didn’t expand on and now realize I should have is the part where Howard talks about sitting down with a notebook:

I wrote all over the page, a line of complete dialogue followed by a place-holder phrase of exposition, a one-word reminder of the next action followed by an arrow to the margin where I’d scribbled a description of a key image. The page looked a mess. But I had captured the movement of the scene…

A key part of this is that she sat down with pen and paper to capture the scene, not her computer. And maybe that’s because she needed to get away from her laptop in order to think differently. Just the fact that she had a ready notebook says something else.

At ReaderCon last year I did a fabulous interview with Andrea Hairston[1] where she talked about how writing with a pen on paper activates the creative parts of the brain in a way typing on keys does not. It’s about the movement of the hand, the connection to the body. It’s no surprise that a drawing class inspired Howard if she’s the type to take up a notebook when attempting to work out a tangled scene.

I keep a paper notebook and I carry around way too many pens because I’m fussy about them[2]. I don’t need them for writing actual fiction longhand; I do need them for thinking about what I’m going to write. I’m convinced that the scene outlining thing only works well for me if I do that outlining in my notebook and not on a computer. Writing it out longhand opens up my head and makes the creative juices flow. I didn’t know this is why scene outlining led to much easier writing days, but after talking to Andrea it all clicked.

I prefer a lined journal. Never did get the habit of keeping my lines straight without a guide. Sounds like Howard’s notebook is a blank one as her method would only be restricted by lines. I know some writers like this–Alaya Dawn Johnson has shown me her writing notebooks in the past and I don’t know if I could handle all that beautifully controlled chaos. It works for her, though! My working things out tends to be more straightforward stream of consciousness writing. I might skip all over the place in my head, on paper the skipping happens one word after the other.

I’m not opposed to trying a more free-form, lineless journaling style. Not many journals give you multiple choices. It’s either lines, grids, or blank. Technology could be the answer here. I’ve written before about tablet and pen solutions and I own a Galaxy Note 8 that I use for work notes. If someone took away my paper and pen forcefully and made me use the Note for everything, I wouldn’t be completely depressed. Don’t know if I would be completely satisfied, either.

Footnotes

  1. Which will be an episode of our podcast and that podcast will happen someday I SWEAR.[]
  2. Check out my fussiness here on the Month of Letters blog[]