Monthly Archives: April 2010

On Pentel Pens, TINKERS, and the New York Times

There’s a lot to report, but the main thing that sticks out is the delivery–TODAY!–of a dozen Pentel black rolling writer pens from Staples. They don’t sell these in the stores anymore, and I’d been told they weren’t making them at all, but then, aha!…when trying to find another five dollar item to make my home delivery of padded envelopes come up to the free shipping total, I…gasp…discovered them on line.

Now you’re saying to yourself, “What on earth is she going on about?” But you don’t know what these pens mean to me. A lifetime of writing with these pens on reversed scrap paper clipped to scavenged clipboards. A smooth flow from the pen. An easy grip. A clear bold line.

The only pen. The one and only. The great love of my life, even beating out the sublime IBM Selectric typewriter.

The Selectric, alas, is now in honorable retirement in the attic, its golfball elements and spare ribbons staring mournfully out at me every time I go into the supplies cupboard. I learned to live without it. The world moves on, and we must move with it.

But moving onto gel pens was hard.  Damn hard. I find them uncomfortable to hold, and the line they give is so mingy. Unfriendly. Alienating.

I find myself writing less and less by hand. Which in a way makes me feel as if my hands are freezing up. As well as the cord that runs from my heart to my head and back down to my fingers. Sure, the beautiful wireless keyboard is a breeze to use. But it’s not the same. When you’re writing, especially those first drafts which are a kind of outpouring to a secret corner, or a favorite doll, that first lot of scratchings needs to be…more personal. This is the difference, as well, between a scribbled Filofax address book and a computer list. Somehow, when you look at a handwritten entry, you remember much more about the person it represents…and, perhaps more to the point here, about how you FEEL about them.

Forgive this paean to the pen. But when I woke up this morning, I thought: “They’re coming. They’re coming today!” And while I am normally a very happy person (if also very agitated, anxious, and alienated…but these things can all go together in the modern world, popular press notwithstanding), I was even happier at that thought.

I keep looking down the drive for the UPS van…

In other news:

First galley copies arrived of EAP’s fall books: Danbert Nobacon’s 3 DEAD PRINCES, and E. E. King’s DIRK QUIGBY’S GUIDE TO THE AFTERLIFE. Mike has done the most amazing job of design…and it doesn’t hurt that the Beloved Husband’s (aka Alex Cox’s) illustrations for 3 DEAD PRINCES are beyond praise. Check out the one illustrating this issue of EAP. He does have the knack of getting down to whatever creative job is at hand, I must say that, and totally objective, too. (I mean, he could be a great husband without being a terrific artist; it certainly helps me that he’s both, however.)

Now they all go flying out to try and find quotes to go on the cover. We’ve already got a spiffy one from RAY BRADBURY.  That’s right, you heard me, RAY BRADBURY. For DIRK QUIGBY. He says: “Impish and delightful—a Zagat’s guide to the Heavens!” Which I think pretty much sums up the book.

And then there was the Pulitzer that went to Paul Harding’s TINKERS.

You have to look at that one. That was one great piece of news. The first novel from an indie press (Bellevue Literary Press…fabulous) to win the Pulitzer in what? Six hundred years? And the New York Times blogged that they’d never gotten a copy of it.  Of course, the stunned publicist looked back over her correspondence and found that she’d sent TEN COPIES to the New York Times at various intervals, but probably they got mislaid, delivered to the wrong address, eaten by rats in the mail room, or stolen. Something like that. It couldn’t possibly be that the New York Times, busy as it is, lets independent presses drop off its radar, could it? Naw…

And Bellevue Literary Press is one of the Consortium Distribution family of publishers. Of which we are a proud, proud, proud, younger sister. And Consortium publishers scooped up not one, but TWO Pulitzers.

Well done all round, and gives all of us a warm fuzzy feeling before we hit the wireless keyboard with renewed enthusiasm for our work in your wake.

(Or, better yet, before we hit the clipboard with a brand new BLACK PENTEL ROLLING WRITER PEN.


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