clues at the scene

clues at the scene

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Writers' Tools

Tonight, I wanted to review some tools for writers.

At left, the Lamy Studio pen. I can hear it now. A fountain pen?


It's a great model, runs under $100, and has the heft to make your words feel substantial when they're still just tentative scratches on foolscap.

The flow of the ink on white unlined paper, the freedom to annotate with little diagrams whatever scene you need to craft, the satisfaction of choosing words instead of creating them with percussive force: these are the joys of using a fountain pen.

I see glazed eyes. Here's one for you. Neil Gaiman uses this beauty: Lamy 2000.

It is not in the price league for someone who doesn't know if they want to use a fountain pen so be warned. It's a substantial piece of hardware with a price to match. Pretty cool though.

Only uses bottled ink. How about that?

Too Luddite for you?

Then let's move to the act of composing on the keys.

At right, the Das Keyboard Ultimate. The beast is solid, has individual mechanical switches for each key, and is blessed with ultimate coolness: no key labels. Oh sure, there are models with letters printed on keys. If you don't know the letters on the keys, why aren't you using the pens above?  [ I use a Das Keyboard with the letters printed. I type like a chimp. You can't use that excuse if you can touch-type.]

The advantage of the mechanical keyboard is the positive action and an ability to select the individual switch function for release.

Additionally, they last for millions of keystrokes. The rocker switch Chiclet-style that came with your latest system will last for only a fraction of this count and - face it - you'll write half a billion words before you're done. Better to invest in the sure footed keyboard that will last for a decades than fight through the degradation of the factory model that comes with your PC or Mac.

It does help your typing word count.

 Which brings us to storage. You're going to have drafts and edits and more drafts and edits circulated to your critique groups and returned with coffee stains and comments. You need somewhere to save that article you tore out of the magazine on the airplane and somewhere to place that one page "I'll write this story when I get good" idea sheet.

These collapsible file boxes are available from big-box office supply stores, cost next to nothing, and provide a much needed organizational scheme that even a writer cannot mess-up. You write the topic and date on the manila folder, put it in the hanging folder slot, and close the lid. When it rains, you can dig through and try to remember what a label like "sea monkey murder mystery" actually meant.

Oh,and writing. We've talked about some tools but there is an important idea primer.

A teapot. Writing and a decent cup of tea go together like writers and - I don't know -  angst? 

Notice I said decent cup of tea. Now, this is a darling little art deco business above from the 1930's. It isn't mine. I have a conventional red roundpot design. However, some of you are stylish.

A decent cup of tea really requires a decent teapot to brew. Yes, I make tea in a cup from time to time with - gasp - a bag. No, it is never as good as a three minute steep in an honest-to-dog teapot. It won't break you at all: buy one.

The cozy you'll have to wrangle on your own.

Oh, tea doesn't work?  Something stronger?

Wander over to HollowBookCo. here, on the web - and get a lovely volume complete with flask because if there is anything that attracts writers: it's booze. Scotch is my flavor if you're asking. I might bitch about a blend; but, I'll drink it.

I didn't say it attracted good writers; but, it does.

Who doesn't need a copy of The Great Shark Hunt with a flask inside? Perfect for the writer you know best.

Hemingway man, are you? am I.

Now, I'm off to earn the moniker of writer. You might be off to earn the moniker of shopper.

The right tool makes makes a master of a journeyman. What will yours look like?


Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Some great tools here! I'm a touch typist, but have never seen a keyboard with no letters/symbols on it...interesting!

I've been drinking a lot of tea lately, but am using the aforementioned bags. :) I used to have a kettle, but I think I had concerns about cleaning the thing at the it occurs to me that boiling water is probably fairly self-cleaning....

jack welling said...

Kettle for boiling, teapot for brewing. You need both.

Of course, sun tea in a big jug does seem more in like with Southern latitudes!

And pound cake.