by Sean Chercover
Okay, folks, nothing heavy today. Before we begin, how about a little palette cleanser?
The following video is Fatboy Slim's Weapon of Choice, starring the incomparable Christopher Walken. Crank your speakers...
How's that for funky?
Now, let's talk about our writing weapons of choice. Mine is, primarily, a computer. I use a Mac, because they're best. Right, Marcus? Of course they are. (That might ignite more acrimony than any political post, but what the hell...)
On my Mac (the best computer in the world) I run Microsoft Word. Like everybody else in the world.
But in recent years, I've been hearing more and more about a program called Scrivener. Many writers swear by it, and none seem to swear at it. Anybody out there use this thing? Opinions? Please share.
Anyway, I write on a computer. (I should say, I write using a computer. I don't write on the computer, although I occasionally put a sticker on it.) Fingers on the keyboard just seems to work best for me.
Except when it doesn't. Occasionally, when the writing just isn't flowing, I put my keyboard aside and pull out the old typer.
I love the clackity-clack-clack-ding! of the thing. I have more than a few old typewriters (by "more than a few," I mean, slightly fewer than a dozen. It probably won't shock you to learn that the woman who sleeps beside me wishes I had fewer. I usually use my grandmother's old Royal portable.
Sometimes, when I'm feeling modern, I pull out the IBM Selectric. An awesome beast. The thing weighs a ton. Makes me feel like Raoul Duke. Of course, if I really wanted to feel like HST, I'd wolf down some mescaline before I hit the keyboard, but that might be taking things a bit too far.
I have two Selectrics. I couldn't tell you why. I keep telling myself that I'm going to sell one of them. I say the same thing to the woman who sleeps next to me. I rationalize. John Irving has six (6) Selectrics, so maybe if I get four more, I'll be a better writer...
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Weapons of choice. I do most of my brainstorming with a pen. Don't know why, but I write better with a keyboard and I brainstorm better with a pen.
I'm partial to fountain pens (Guyot? You there?), and (you guessed it) I have more than a few. Back in January 1988, I wandered into a pawn shop under the El tracks on Van Buren to get out of the cold. The guy had a bunch of Eversharp Skyline fountain pens from the 1940s. 14k nibs. Never inked. "New Old Stock" - they still had the orignal tags and stickers on them. He was selling them for eight bucks a pop. I bought a handful or two.
I'm even more fond of my green Pelikan demonstrator. A demonstrator is a clear pen that shows all its inner-workings. Like this:
But the fountain pen I seem to be using most often, these days, is made by The Sailor Pen Co., of Japan. Mine looks like this:
Okay, that's enough pen porn to satisfy Guyot...
I'm not saying that using a fancy fountain pen or an old typewriter or the best computer in the world makes my writing any better. Not at all. But it makes me feel better, and we all have our quirks.
Let's hear about yours. What is your writing weapon of choice?
PS: My two favorite fountain pen shops... In New York: The Fountain Pen Hospital (just down the street from Otto Penzler's Mysterious Bookshop). In Chicago: Ed Hamilton's Century Pens.