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Posts Tagged ‘TWSBI’

Posted by Dirck on 29 June, 2017

This Week’s Pens Inks How Much Novel Written
  • 18 manuscript pages (thin air up here.  Thin indeed).

The annual summer silence is about to descend on this enterprise, as my two weeks away† from The Regular Job begin on Monday.  Of course, the way things have been running lately, the interruption will be almost imperceptible.  As it ever the case, I’ll hope to get some writing done around the expectations of family and fabric of the house without expecting to.  This will make for a good deal more physical work than last year, carting the giant heap of paper home and then shifting it out of the way while doing whatever it is that gets in the way of writing is; we remember that another translation of codex is “lump of wood.”

We will try to overlook a more colloquial use of the word by native Latin speakers; blockhead.  I’m sure I shall feel like one in a fortnight when I’ve failed to advance the work beyond its current state, however much I hope to.


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Meditation Time

Posted by Dirck on 23 June, 2017

Here’s a chap messing around with a pen.  I occasionally do stuff like this… in one corner of a page, for about two minutes.  I don’t devote quite the level of resources to it that he does, either; nice paper, boutique ink.  Very inexpensive pen, though, which is worth pondering.

The trick will be to not see any of that stuff when you close your eyes to go to sleep tonight.

Today’s pen: TWSBI Mini
Today’s ink: Herbin Lie de Thé


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Embarkation Date Announced (some delay expected, small hints given)

Posted by Dirck on 1 November, 2016

I’m not troubling myself to look back for it, but some time ago I announced that I would use the start of National Novel Writing Month as the trigger for beginning my own novel.  I also said that I would certainly not be done in a month, and I’m sticking to that declaration even as I wriggle my way out of actually getting the novel going today. There’s a few things I need to tie up before I go face-down into a ream of blank pages.

Foremost, I’m going to finish the second draft of “Discoveries in the Wake of the Last Crusade,” because if I don’t I’ll leave it to go moldy in some corner like a couple of other things I’ve walked away from during the first draft.  I’m not expecting huge commercial success out of the story, but unlike those other projects, this one isn’t inherently flawed.  I just started it later than I should have, and there’s no reason it should stifle in its crib because I was a little off in my timing.

There’s also a little bit of research that I was dumb enough to imagine I had plenty of time to look into and thus put off… several times.  This is less of an issue than the previous point, and to a large extent I can adjust the novel to allow for the results of the research even if I start right now, but since that previous point is in play, I’m not going to start right now.

I’m also slightly undecided about what pen I’m going to be using for the great project; another matter which procrastination has handled roughly and, alas, without proper consent.  There’s several candidates vying for the position.  Since I envision (dream/suffer a delusion of) doing some work over weekends as well as my weekday routine, I got into a stupid indecision vortex about maybe having two pens in operation for the length of the project, which hasn’t helped matters.  Whatever pen gets chosen, it will not be the TWSBI Eco, as it has recently opened up a tiny crack at the molding seam along the mouth of the section.  My prediction of durability hasn’t, sadly, borne fruit, and I will have to bug TWSBI about the matter.  The pen or pens will be of moderate size and have a built-in filler; I’m not messing about with cartridges, converters or syringes in this pursuit.

I do, at least, know what ink I’m going to be using.  I am down to 4ml of the Diamine Prussian Blue I’ve been applying to my writing for the last… year and a half, at least, and the discovery that it actually costs less to order bottles of ink from England than to stop in at the local Staples for some Quink moved me to whistle for a bottle of Oxford Blue from Diamine; this is even now bobbing across the ocean’s billows to reach me, and should be here before I get to the bottom of the Prussian Blue.

For those who wonder about such things, the paper will be the cheap and abundant Hilroy refill paper (so cheap, in fact, that they don’t even have it on the page for refill paper on their site).  It feathers only a little, doesn’t show through much, and is cheap and readily available.  These latter two points are important, because I may need more than a thousand sheets of the stuff.

“All of which is fascinating, of course,” the ear of my imagination picks up, “but will you ever mention what the book is about?”  Well, like any other writer in the early phases of the illness, I suffer from a raging paranoia that someone will steal my ideas!!, despite full conscious awareness that even if I gave a detailed synopsis, no other writer would produce what I’m intent upon.  So, let me give the merest bare-bones description of what I have in mind– a murder mystery, in which an experienced detective is faced with evidence of a killer possessing supernatural powers.  Said killer will not, by the way, be a vampire of any degree of sparkle, nor will the setting stray particularly from the real world except in the area of MO– the aim is more of a Wallander thing with a leavening of one small flapping corner on our accepted reality.  The working title shall be The Impossible Bodies.

Oh, yes, that reminds me– I’m also planning to adjust the progress reports somewhat.  Tedious as they may be, I find that public declarations of action are very helpful to keeping myself on task, but I think I’ll probably just give a week’s page count rather than a daily one while the novel is the thing that is underway.  It won’t be any more or less boring for my long-suffering blog-followers, but it will save me a little bit of typing which only indirectly advances the project.

Finally, a bit of a prognostication about when I might be done.  Let’s look at the spreadsheet I use to track my progress (I’ve learned from reading the online thoughts of some writers that obsessive nit-pickery is not uncommon, so this seems less weird than it did when I started):

Yep, obsessive nit-pickery is running smoothly.

Yep, obsessive nit-pickery is running smoothly.

Remember how I spent the beginning of 2015 slaving away on that “Choose Your Own Eldritch Horror” project?  That’s where the discontinuity between first draft production and finished output comes from.  However, I’m taking the trend to mean that I can get this thing through its first draft by spring of next year, and perhaps even knock the thing into submittable shape before the end of summer. I don’t expect my pace of production to pick up a LOT from where it is currently, but if I can actually apply some evening/weekend time to the campaign, this seems manageable for a moderately-sized novel; not much beyond novella, perhaps, but sufficient.  The point of the chart is less to show that I will be able to meet an arbitrary deadline, than to prove that the lunch-hour chipping away at the rockface of creativity actually produces palpable results.  At very least, by this time next year, I’ll have a well-formed book ready to show to the world.

Then we’ll enjoy the horrors of trying to get it sold.  This is not a mere exercise in creative “Can I Do It?”

That’s it, then.  Not actually begun, but moving to the blocks.  It’s a good thing I’m also the one firing the starter’s pistol.

Today’s pen: Pelikan P488 (and wow, does this EF point ever make a cartridge last!)
Today’s ink: Waterman Florida Blue

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How’d It Go?

Posted by Dirck on 4 July, 2016

Pretty well, for a vacation only from work.  Let’s get that checklist from the last entry:

  1. Throwing out stuff I should have thrown out when clearing out the parents’ house instead of letting Nostalgia shove me around;
  2. Throwing out stuff so my son won’t have to do item (1) in 35 years;
  3. Committing small acts of home repair as a proof of good intention to the house;
  4. Small acts of sympathetic magic in hopes of convincing wealth to shower upon my household (already begun, as you may note from the roster of “Rich Man’s Pens” that are showing up in my rotation);
  5. Getting my son as much locomotive time as possible in celebration of his birthday– there’s a steam engine and an archaic diesel within reach;
  6. Submitting more stories to more markets;
  7. Please, please, please some writing, because the boy’s at school still for almost the whole period that I’m not and I should have time even with the previous chores standing in my way.

On items (1) and (2), about a bag from each column.  This was balanced out by the importation of yet more track and rolling stock for my son’s toy train empire (his birthday, after all), which I should not complain about.  He also got books about actual locomotives, which pleased him at least as much as the toys, and that makes for a happy pappy.

(3) was… well, nothing new broke.  Status quo is a win in that department.  Item (4) has a similar result, and since I’m aware that there is indeed plenty of “how much worse can it be?” in the realm of household economy, I’ll not complain aloud.

That steam engine referred to in (5) is apparently laid up for the season, but…

OgLoco OgStation

…there was some fun had, even if things were a little overcast.

I will admit failure on point (6), mainly through distraction on the other points AND some repairs done for local clients, but as far as (7) goes I will offer the threatened large and oddly formatted progress report:

Writing Attempted Amount Written Pens Used (no particular order, and not just on the writing) Inks Used (likewise)
  • First Draft of “Swimmer’s Build”
  • First Draft of “Final Girl”
  • Second Draft of Choose Your Own Hideous Fate project
  • 12 pages and done.
  • 22 pages, also done.
  • about 3,000 words

That’s actually less time spent on writing than I hoped, but an encouraging outlook as far as being able to get anything like that done at all when I’m (sort of) in command of my own schedule.  Hooray!

Speaking of writing things– there’s some pens there without links, aren’t there?  I’d best get down to business on that….

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Posted by Dirck on 4 May, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 2 May
  • 3 May
  • 4 May
  • 5 May
  • Fourth draft of “Yard Light”
  • As with yesterday.
  • And still, this fourth draft.
  • Finished at last
  • Serious contemplation of flaws and some notes
  • About half the amendments needed.
  • The last 10% of changes is very steep and calls for oxygen equipment.
  • Some people say writing is hard (pant pant).
  • 35 min.
  • 40 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 40 min.

*Mondays being what they are, I left the house without the day’s selected pen, so Designated Fiction Pen had to stand in.  To balance out, I managed to leave my wallet at The Regular Job at day’s end.  I don’t usually Monday with that much force.

**More commentary on the forums has convinced me that Friday’s conundrum is mostly a Duofold with a replacement barrel stolen from a contemporary Mk. IV Victory; the barrels were the same size, and this explanation leaves the fewest gouges from Occam’s razor.  No new page for the site, alas, but a new picture to apply to the Duofold page (the one without the imprint showing).

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More Than Usually Complete Progress Report.

Posted by Dirck on 21 April, 2016

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 18 April
  • 19 April
  • 20 April
  • 21 April
  • First draft of “A Mistake of Timing.”
  • Second draft of “A Mistake of Timing”.
  • More second draft effort.
  • Yes, still more.
  • Ten manuscript pages, and done.
  • 1,070 words typed.
  • 804 words.
  • 934 words.
  • 55 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 45 min.
  • 40 min.

…and also, let me brag a little.  Last weekend, after a bit of a dry patch, I got an absolute mass of pens repaired, all but one one of them for other people.  These included a PFM, three Snorkels, a Vacumatic with a lock-down filler, and a Balance First Lady, plus some slightly less challenging objects.  The Balance, Vacumatic, and two of the Snorkels were moving between generations in one family, which I find always provides a happy glow the the work.  Since the Balance and one of the Snorkels were more than usually resistant to being taken to bits, a happy glow was a welcome counterbalance to black vexation.

The PFM, which was otherwise in quite good shape, had suffered a refit at some past date under the hands of one who was mislead into thinking rubber cement was an appropriate sealant.  I’ve grumped about this sort of thing before, so I’ll leave that link and its contents to express my refreshed thoughts on such behaviour.

The third Snorkel dealt with was, for a joy, one of my own; yet another donation from a friend mentioned many times before who keeps finding things at garage and estate sales.  It is also not a model I owned until she handed it to me:

That model being a Saratoga

That model being a Saratoga

I have a before picture, but it failed to quite capture the squalor this pen had fallen into.  I suspect it lived in a smoking house, because the yellow-brown patina I mercilessly polished away certainly seemed to be nicotine (I know this because our own house was owned for fifty years by the same smoking person, and the hallway still breaks out in a nicotine sweat every winter).  It cleaned up nice, and I’ll be taking it out for its first run tomorrow, making very very very thin writing in pursuit of the day’s labours.  The Sheaffer catalogue of the day only claimed to go down to extra-fine, but this thing, despite acceptable wetness, is toying with the limits of human perception in the fineness of its line.

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After a Long Test-Drive…

Posted by Dirck on 22 March, 2016

I mentioned, back when I first admitted to having the TWSBI Eco, that I would come back and give an update if any problems developed.  Here I am to give an update after using it for about two months.

I’m back! Miss me?

You ghouls may put aside your bibs.  I am not here to speak of problems and failures.  I am still in the Eco fan club, and now I have actual reasons to support the position.

First, let’s talk mileage.  All the fiction writing I’ve done since that entry in January has come out of this pen, and I only just had to re-fill it.  I’ll save you going back through the entries and adding up the page counts– that’s 94 pages.  Before you call for the smelling salts, though, keep in mind that it’s all double-spaced; if I were writing like a normal person, and making allowances for some un-recorded scribbling, we can call it about 50 pages of 8 ½ X 11 loose-leaf of moderate cheapness and absorbency.  Which is… pretty damn good, thinking back to how quickly I could empty my pen at the height of my university note-taking days.  Keep in mind also that it has an extra-fine point, which is going to keep consumption down too.

The other thing I wanted to mention is those little vanes at the front of the ink chamber.  There’s no mention of them in the instructions, but I found that they were useful for wringing all possible writing out of the load of ink.  When the pen was effectively empty, I put it point up, ran the piston forward, and found that the vanes did indeed conduct the last vestiges of the ink to the feed– which last vestiges included what had been clinging to the piston seal thanks to surface tension, and the mere moist vapour that collected on the inside of the chamber, scraped down into a place of use by the piston.  It’s not something you’d like to rely upon during an important exam (and if you filled up ahead of time, you almost certainly wouldn’t have to), but it’s nice to know the potential is there.

The one fly in the ointment I notice is that little lip at the front of the section.  It seems to be there only to make comparisons to the Lamy Safari absolutely mandatory…

I was going to use the Vista, but its lip is hard to see, being transparent.

…and it makes cleaning after refill slightly more tedious than it needs to be.  It’s not a crippling problem, by any means, but I thought I should avoid giving the impression that this pen is Utopia in the shape of a writing instrument.

Today’s pen: Parker 65
Today’s ink: Waterman washable blue 

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Eco-Logical? Eco-Nomical!

Posted by Dirck on 26 January, 2016

I was looking through my personal records for last year, and I find that I got only six new pens.  And two of those were unexpected gifts.  Financial constraints make for less fun.

This year, though… actually, it’s looking only slightly better in the overall sense, and as far as pens go I don’t really expect to do much better.  However, a recent windfall let me indulge curiosity if not greed, and I finally got around to ordering myself a TWSBI Eco.  Here it is:

A clear pen from TWSBI? How unexpected!

For those who find themselves under the shadow of TL;DR, let me give the short opinion: good cheap pen.

Now, let me expand; I was pretty taken with the cost/quality proportions of the Pilot Metropolitan, as I went on about at some length shortly after being introduced.  That sense has continued to the present, to the extent that it very nearly crept into my Desert Island Moderns list with pens costing a order of magnitude more.  Cuddle that for context when I say this– the Eco is, at least at the end of a two-week engagement, possibly an even better bargain.

How’s that for praise?  It’s an honest opinion, though.  We hear, in fountain pen circles, people making noise about the “out of box” performance of various pens, usually in the form of complaints about having to do something to make a pen work properly.  My experience may not be typical, but I literally did nothing to this pen ahead of filling it with ink and writing, and there wasn’t a second’s hesitation from the pen despite the lack of initial rinse.  I got, for reasons too inward to mention, an extra-fine point, and it is as smooth as is in the nature of that size of tipping to be.  Looking at it through the powerful loupe I use when checking out the progress of nib reshaping, I found the tines to be in impeccable alignment.  The piston runs smoothly, without play.

…and that’s a big point.  It has a built-in filler.  The Metropolitan, for all its charms, is a cartridge pen; that has the possibility of convenience, sure, if one has easy access to Pilot cartridges, but even then refilling it requires reducing it to a heap of components.  I do prefer a built-in filler, as prejudiced as that may be, and there sits TWSBI’s rather good expression of the twist-piston in a pen which, depending on where you look, costs the same as or only about ten dollars more than the Pilot.  It is, frankly, a little hard to make out how this thing manages to cost about three-fifths as much as the Diamond without looking very closely.

Well, maybe not THAT closely....

This is why I don’t rely on my device for pictures.  It’s like the camera I used for my old site (shudder).

The packaging is an element of it, being somewhat flimsier than the nice little Sleeping Beauty coffins the other pens come in.  I suppose when viewed in multiples of a thousand, that wrench will show a saving over the flat piece of steel that comes with the company’s higher end units, too, but it will certainly work.  Unlike my other favourite cheap pen, this thing comes with a maintenance kit!

In the pen itself, though, there’s only a couple of cost savings, and one of them is dubious.  The big one is that the body of the pen is cast in a single piece– the clear components are in fact clear component.  That’s bound to save a little on labour as far as putting the thing together.  Also, the point and feed are not set in a little collar to become a removable unit, as is the case with TWSBI’s other pens (and a lot of other, grander pens, too; Edison, Anchora…), but as set into the section individually in a very old-school manner.  This saves a little on materials, but depending on whether TWSBI or the manufacturer is the one cramming things into those collars, I don’t know that it won’t run up the time for assembly slightly.

That’s not my look-out, though, and I’m quite willing to suggest that the fountain pen-curious look in this direction as a good entry to the life of the easy-writing scribbler-about-town.  It’s not perfect, of course, and there’s a couple of things that will bear watching.  Every TWSBI model has a certain number of ghouls attending to it, waiting for reports of plastic failure after the problems with the Diamonds (yes, even mine), so those who listen to the meeping and barking will likely be a little nervous.  My own point of concern is the extraneous o-ring on the tail, which helps to secure the cap during writing– it takes a fair shove to engage the cap with it, and o-rings of their nature do not last forever.

The source of nebulous concern can be seen here. Also to be seen, the usually hidden unmentionables of the piston mecanism.

The source of nebulous concern can be seen here, just inboard of the filling knob. Also to be seen, the usually hidden unmentionables of the piston mechanism.

However, I can put aside that sort of worry.  It’s a piston-filling pen that costs less than US$30, and it at least feels as solid as a low-end Pelikan.  I am toying with the idea of using it as the primary first-draft composition pen for my fictional pursuits, giving that elderly Sheaffer cartridge pen a rest after… gosh, is it two years on station?  Possibly less.  In any event, it may be time to set it aside for a while.  It is, after all, a eyedropper in its current duty, and even more of a problem when reloading time comes around that a cartridge pen.

If I find troubles with the Eco, updates will follow.  For now, though, I’m a happy writer.

Today’s pen: Eversharp Skyline
Today’s ink: Herbin Perle Noire

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Posted by Dirck on 21 January, 2016

If this current story will relax slightly in its powerful grip upon me, I may be able to tell you next week about the new pen I recently got.  Wouldn’t that be a treat?

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 18 January
  • 19 January
  • 20 January
  • 21 January
  • First draft of  “Final Resting Place”.
  • More first draft.
  • This one is really working well, in fact.
  • …until today.  That’s not fair, though– I just got to a bit that needed more thinkin’ and less scratchin’.
  • Eight manuscript pages.
  • Ten pages (dances about, arms in air).
  • Nine pages.
  • Seven pages.
  • 50 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 50 min.
  • 55 min.

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Posted by Dirck on 14 January, 2016

For those who take an interest in such things, sometime in the next five to seven hours, I should have “The Golden Oracle” up on the other site.  You had to suffer through the progress reports, you might as well see the ungainly fruits they bear.

Day What How Much Duration Pen Ink
  • 11 January
  • 12 January
  • 13 January
  • 14 January
  • Second draft of “All the Old Familiar Faces”.
  • More of that.
  • A bit that really put up a fight.
  • All done.
  • 572 words typed.
  • 807 words.
  • 657 words.
  • …for a total of 3,402 words.  The last 300 really didn’t want to lie down in a line.
  • 25 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 55 min.
  • 40 min.

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