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Archive for February 25th, 2015

How’s The Mileage on That Thing?

Posted by Dirck on 25 February, 2015

The evidence of this compendium of nonsense over the past year and a half suggests that I’ve started neglecting the craft and science of pens for the art of writing.  I’d even bow to an accusation of that sort, since I’ve had to take in my metaphorical horns in the pen-buying department; fewer in, fewer interesting and novel repairs (although there is a brewing entry in that direction, too), and a drying up of the fountain that feeds my yammering about pens.

This is not to say, though, that I don’t think about them rather more than is sane normal.  Indeed, with the concentration upon writing, I’m using fountain pens more on a daily basis than when I was holding forth on them with regularity.

The recently completed (and soon to be re-titled) “The Yellow Oracle” gave me a chance to consider, for example, the rate of ink usage when writing.  I filled the pen that is currently doing all my fiction just before I set out on that story, which allowed me to examine with some precision how much ink went into the story.  Some precision, since I didn’t actually measure the before and after volume of ink in the pen, but I’m pretty good at estimating.  Well… estimatin’.

The first draft used roughly one-third the ink available in the pen.  The process of running up a second draft saw amendments, and also didn’t reproduce the striking through of occasional sentences that always happens in the first draft– I will admit to myself when a sentence has gone off the rails, and scrap it rather than try to reuse the parts.  Thus, the 5,400 words of the story as it ended in second draft probably reflects not quite as much ink as went into the first draft, so for ease of math, we can say that I’m getting around 5,000 words/ml.  I’m sure that there’s some ball-points that snicker at this, and that’s fine, lads.  I’ll just keep on refilling the thing, and we’ll see who’s around to do the book signing.

Now, before someone runs off and says “You can write 5,000 words with a milliliter of fountain pen ink!” in a tone of authority, I want to first point out the amount of hedging in the previous paragraph.  Also, the paper I was using was relatively thirsty.  The current project, going onto paper that is a lot less absorbent, has certainly got more than double the pages of “The Yellow Oracle” (not all work gets recorded here, remember) and has only just now half-emptied the pen.  Moving from estimating to semi-informed guessing, I’d say we’re up to more like 7,000 or 8,000 words/ml; highway mileage!

I guess that rating the amount of writing a fountain pen will do leans more in the direction of craft than science; replicating results is very tricky, and a headwind can really throw off your performance.

Today’s crafty device: Pelikan New Classic
Today’s ink: Iroshizuku Fuyu-Syogun

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