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Archive for April, 2015

Posted by Dirck on 30 April, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 28 April
  • 29 April
  • 30 April
  • Choose Your Own Nameless Terror.
  • Nine manuscript pages.
  • Six pages.
  • Seven pages.
  • 45 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 40 min.

Because this is a progress report, I’m going to mention that there’s going to be a little break in the very regular programme here in favour of some final revision of a story for submission, as there’s a venue which I think would suit it opening a window for submissions fairly soon.  Yes, I’m actually getting ready to do something this all this creative output I’ve been burdening you with news of.

Well… one item of it.  Baby steps, middle path, all that stuff.

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Pure Fabrication

Posted by Dirck on 27 April, 2015

The close observer of past entries may have noticed a bit of an anomaly lately.  While Bleu Pervenche remained the ink in use, the pen changed.  This may have nurtured curiosity in that close observer’s heart, and I can now clarify the events.  I did indeed have a moment of frivolity in my choice of pen and ink when I brought the Stylist out of storage on the 10th, although I only admitted to it for the ink.  This frivolity was repaid shortly after the entry for that day, when I found my fingers festively blued… but the source of the ink was the joint of the pen.

That’s not good.

Over the weekend, I moved the ink from a modern converter which wasn’t seating excellently into a cartridge, cleaned up the pen, gave it a couple of hours of lying on its side… and found that the ink was getting out into the barrel.  The cartridge went into the Agio and I had to put on my thinking cap.

My history with Sheaffer cartridge pens betrayed me slightly in this.  There is not a lot of dismantling to do with the old school pens nor NoNonsenses, both of which were companions of my youth.  I was thus slightly blind to the anatomy of the Stylist, but when presented with a leak, there must be a source, so rather than relying on the wisdom of the ancients (that’s me!) I actually looked inside the section.

There I found a suggestive slot on either side of the steel fang that enters the unsuspecting new cartridge.  Suggestive indeed, because it suggests that with the right tool, one could unscrew… something.  Well, unscrewing something is what inquisitive apes like to do!  There was, however, the issue of that rather important fang in the middle of the thing.  Here we meet the title of the piece, because I had to take a piece of brass tube left over from a previous bit of cleverness and make a tool to the purpose by grinding away bits of the end  until left with two protrusions.  The tube goes over the fang, the protrusions engage the groove, and I get to plumb the mysteries of the Stylist.

Anatomy Stylist2

They’re not THAT mysterious.

There’s more buffering in there than I had given it credit for.  The source of the problem was that seal mounted towards the inward end of what I will call the feed because “collector” is a part of a different pen and I think properly has to be separate from the bit that conducts ink from reservoir to point; this thing appears to be all one piece, because the threads are at the far end from the slot.  The seal is similar to ones found in Imperials and Targas, and in those situations I find it isn’t quite eternally reliable either.  I think it’s made of nylon.  My remedy, thus far functional, was to try reviving it with some silicone grease, although if that starts to fail I think the best alternative is to pack some wax into the seam between the walls of the section and the feed rather than take it apart and try to mount some kind of o-ring.

The tool I am not showing because it is extremely ugly.  It is functionally similar to the Conway-Stewart cap tool or the Visofil nut tool made by The Pen Practice, but without any of the evident skill of construction found there.  I’m shy about my limitations.  If I were to make another, by the way, I’d probably find a tube closer to the outer diameter of a Sheaffer cartridge, to get better leverage.

While I had the thing apart, I made an interesting discovery about the contact between the point unit and the feed.  There’s less of it than I thought:

Quite a gap, eh?  You can see the dodgy seal better in this one, too.

Quite a gap, eh? You can see the dodgy seal better in this one, too, just short of the right end of the feed.

The stem at the back of the point unit is bottomed out in its cup on the feed.  I don’t know if that’s some clever use of dead space to insulate the feed and add buffering space, or if it’s an idiotic leaving of places for ink to dry and cause trouble.  It saves the need to line up the little vent hole in the lower part of the unit with the air-return on the feed, and I guess that’s what the reason for it is, but it troubles me.

While fabricating things this week-end, I also ran up a tool to ease the dismantling of Snorkels, as I’ve a sick one in hand from a client.  It’s a stick with a slot in it, and a hole drilled in it.  That one I just forgot to get a picture of, which is a shame because it’s damn useful.  Maybe later.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Pervenche

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Slightly Steamed Up

Posted by Dirck on 24 April, 2015

Before I get to the fun part of today’s entry, an honest question to the passers-by who drop in a gander:  In the past week, the mechanisms that tell me from where and how often people come to look at my site tell me that I’ve had something like two dozen visits from Facebook.  A curiousity-induced click on the link back gives me nothing more than Facebook’s access point, unless I’m logged in, which produces my own front door at that lodging.

The question is, I suppose… have people been saying things about me?  I’m not a real social-media-animal, having grown up before the collapse of privacy, and while I’m not too worried about what is being said (being, as are all of you, a blameless paragon of probity and uprightness), there is something uneasy about hearing one’s name being whispered in a vast crowd.  One rather wants to know what’s up.

Now, on to today’s short film, which is somewhat thematic with my current feeling of being an excluded outsider:

I always have to work to not pronounce it “shuggoth“, of course.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Agio
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Pervenche

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Posted by Dirck on 23 April, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 20 April
  • 21 April
  • 22 April
  • Choose Your Own ect.
  • Six manuscript pages.
  • The same.
  • Seven pages (!).
  • Five pages.
  • 40 min.
  • Also the same.
  • …in only 40 min.!
  • 35 min.

I’m not sure whether to be proud of having managed that last session or cranky that it was so truncated.  I should be happy it wasn’t zero, I guess, given a fairly fraught week.  Heck, look how late I am posting this!

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Propaganda Pictures

Posted by Dirck on 17 April, 2015

Another interesting little look at the past today; a film to help Sheaffer’s pen salesmen cope with the problems they’re facing in 1943.  If you’re not particularly interested in the war materiel excuse for having almost not pens to sell, skip about ten minutes in.  The whole thing supports something I mentioned some time ago about the reason decent fountain pens are (relatively) expensive.  You may find yourself, at the end of it, anxious to get your hands on a Sheaffer …for some reason.

And remember– in an airplane, a pen should always be opened in an upright position.  Words to live by.

Today’s pen: Faber-Castell e-motion
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

PS– I wonder what the trademark owners of today’s ink would think of the policies Sheaffer pursued regarding their franchisees?  Mad liberal frivolity, no doubt.

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Posted by Dirck on 16 April, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 13 April
  • 14 April
  • 15 April
  • 16 April
  • Choose Your Own ect.
  • Five manuscript pages.
  • Ten pages.
  • Six pages
  • Four pages and loads of Google-y location research
  • 30 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 45 min.

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Balancing Act

Posted by Dirck on 13 April, 2015

A quick note, because I haven’t looked in properly lately but I’m also getting anxious to be on to the next thing and would like to attack the current project some more today.

That next thing will be, or should be despite the cries of ideas waiting to get some paper under them,  applying commentary received via my membership in Critters.org, a site which offers a chance at being both giver and getter of critical comment on precious gems of deathless prose, without having to pay any sort of money for the privilege/curse.   The only requirement is that you actually do some critiques and that you not be pointedly hurtful while about it– “diplomacy” is the word the site uses.

On the giving front, it’s interesting to see others’ embryonic and even nigh-full-term fetal writing projects, as one reels from feeling utterly inadequate in the face of authentic shining talent to an almost insupportable smugness about one’s own powers.  As in most things, finding the middle path is probably the best policy.

Due to the pacing of the process, I’ve only had two stories looked at so far, and as such have only had one to which slightly hurtful things have been said which I might dismiss (somewhat) as a revenge from my own honest opinions (which I might have couched better).  There is a similar wallowing between extremes, though, as we find the surprising intelligence that not all people respond the same way to a given stimulus.  Let me share a few samples of what the first story brought in:

Smiles, dancing Prostration, weeping
  • “This one gave me cold shivers.”
  • “I thought the opening was really strong and
    intriguing….”
  • “…the story doesn’t have much of a hook….”
  • “I’m afraid the larger point eluded me….”

Easy to say of the right-hand column, “Those people are idiots and I shall ignore everything they said.”  Right?  Well… except for the fact that some of the more specific problems they had were also visible amid the heaps of praise from the clearly brilliant and perfectly insightful people.  And the unkindly-described idiots were frequently quite articulate about where the problem lay.  Usefully articulate.

The balancing act is, as ever, internal.  Don’t let pride up-end the table, or block the light, or whatever the best metaphor is.  Apply yourself to the condemnation as well as the praise.  Listen instead of yelling back.  Remember that precious gems of deathless prose need a certain amount of cutting if they’re to shine.

This writing stuff is actual work.  Who knew?

Today’s pen: Faber-Castell e-motion
Today’s ink: Montblanc Royal Blue

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Stark Raving Russian

Posted by Dirck on 10 April, 2015

Today’s film drifted past me in the course of the week, and I can’t think of anything better to celebrate the apparent return of authentic spring than with a mad short about something driven by a spring?  Also, if you’re anything like me (and who, given the choice, would be?), you have zero clue where to get LSD and no money to spend on it anyway, so this counts as a next-best selection.

There you go.  Horizons expanded.  Now we can all wait for the terrifying flashbacks.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Stylist
Today’s ink: Herbin Bleu Pervenche (the nice weather has made me run riot)

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Posted by Dirck on 9 April, 2015

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 6 April
  • 7 April
  • 8 April
  • 9 April
  • Choose Your Own ect.
  • Six manuscript pages.
  • Seven pages.
  • Eight pages.
  • Seven pages.
  • 30 min.
  • 35 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 40 min

I had to make up for last week, right?

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Messiah Complex

Posted by Dirck on 2 April, 2015

But first, because it’s Thursday:

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 31 March
  • 1 April
  • A cancellation at the dentist
  • Choose Your Own seemingly endless project….
  • Just a cleaning.
  • Seven manuscript pages.
  • All afternoon.
  • 40 min.

Not much accomplished this week, and if my idea of this current project as a litmus test of my readiness to engage upon a proper novel has any merit, I’d do well to leave the novel aside a little longer. This is a little too much committment to a single concept for me, and it’s really just a heap of closely-connected short stories.

But enough of that. Because tomorrow is a holiday, I’m treating today as Thursday and Friday.  If I were more of a theologian, I could probably work it into a trinity, but I know my limits.  The trinity notion is an outcome, of course, of the sort of holiday we’re enjoying tomorrow, although in our house it’s more about pagan rabbits flinging sugar about than it is about non-terrifying returns from the dead.  I’m not unmindful of the religious affiliation of the day, though, and I thought for a change in my usual programme here I’d offer as the Friday Film From Fomewhere (fic sic)  a review of one of my favourite films about the resurrection of an ill-treated saviour.  Plus the unnecessary and profoundly mishandled recent remake.

I understand Keanu is, as a person, genuinely nice.  It may be why he keeps getting roles.

Today’s pen: Pelikan (in hoc) Signum (vinces, and yes the declension is a mess)

Today’s ink: Noodler’s (brown like chocolate) Walnut

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