Monday, September 25, 2006

An Aside about Writing, and Posh Writing Implements

NaNoWriMo 2006 is coming soon (it starts November 1), and as such I'm trying to be a little better prepared this year than I was last year. I've already got a good classic-sci-fi theme I'm working on involving cloning and time travel, and I collect notes daily for the eventual firing of the starting gun. Very exciting, and I can't wait for the month to start!

One wrinkle that's afflicted me of late is an obsession with hand writing (yep, grabbing a pen and wiggling its pointy end against fibrous sheets of wood pulp), and with a particularly functional and pretty wood-pulp binding: the Moleskine notebook.

Moleskines (some people pronounce them "mole-a-skeen-a," to rhyme with "ballerina," but I prefer "mole-skeen" to rhyme with "nifty keen") are a triumph not only of marketing (it is laid on particularly thick), but also of functional, uncompromising design. The pages are creamy and sturdy without being too thick; the black "oilcloth"-wrapped hardcover binding is buttery to the touch, yet tough; it's got both an inbuilt ribbon bookmark (like in old-school hardcover books and Bibles), an attached elastic strap to flip around and hold the notebook closed a la the Grail Diary in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and a slim pocket in the back cover to hold loose pages or other slips of paper. Moleskines have been called the functional-yet-attractive "little black dress" of notebooks, and after filling a number of pages in the few I have, I can heartily agree.

(For those that will eventually say so, yes, Moleskines are also very faddishly "in" at the moment, but that doesn't mean they're not all they're cracked up to be, and besides, they're available from my local Books-A-Million, and they've got me jazzed up on writing, for which I'd pay twice the price.)

Of course, having stumbled upon what may be the perfect notebook, one's choice of writing implement becomes important. Longtime readers will recognize this as a dawning of a New Hobby, and I plead guilty.

Back in the halcyon days of my youth I was into (and decently good at) calligraphy, and as such I've gone through many a Sheaffer No-Nonsense calligraphy pen and chisel-tipped marker in my day. Tripp in particular will remember that my writing derangement actually had me doing dip-nib-in-inkwell work during our sophomore year at the University of Richmond, and looking up obscure hands like Luxeuil Minuscule in which to copy out strange poems in blood-colored ink.

I told you that to tell you this: I'm currently using Pilot G-2 "gel" rollerball pens to write my thoughts and prose in my Moleskines (and I'm particularly enamored of the burgundy-inked one that Amy bequeathed to me from her assortment), but I'm looking to fountain pens as the ultimate match. I snagged a Sheaffer ViewPoint Fine Nib (direct descendant of the NoNonsense Calligraphy Pen) and a Manuscript "Italic Pen" over lunch today, and both are good, but a little ink-heavy, leading to either slight bleed-through of the page, or illegibility on the narrow lines a Moleskine offers.

I also ordered a restored-vintage 1950s Sheaffer Snorkel Admiral fountain pen from eBay (thankfully they're available cheap--no $100 pens for me, thanks), with which I plan to go berserk later, and Amy went with me to pick up some exquisite dip-nib pens at our local "Ambiance" store in the mall over the weekend.

Pray for me. :-)


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