Friday, October 19, 2012


     Only if you have two of them, a lot of yarn, a lot of time and you're extraordinarily skilled at knitting.

     The original Blackwing 602 was the preferred writing implement of many famous writers (including John Steinbeck, though after the debunking of Travels With Charley, that might be a mixed blessing).  The last one rolled  -- well, slid, the special eraser ferrule prevents rolling -- off the line in 1998. Cal Cedar bought the machinery and brought them back as the "Blackwing" in 2010, took some heat over the differences, and added the closer-to-original "Blacking 602" last year.

     They're not cheap, $20 a dozen.  On the other hand, most pencils sold these days are lousy, splintery things with reconstituted or synthetic "wood" and the lead's nothing to write home with, either.  So I splurged.

     Gee.  They're nice.  And the old motto actually means something -- "Half the pressure, twice the speed."  You do go skimming right along.  Here are my notes (Copyright 2012, all rights reserved) for the vignette "Mo," over at I Work On A Starship, written in real-time while observing one of the people on whom the character is based:
     I'm not any better a writer with it, but the hardware doesn't get in the way of the work, which is a pretty big deal.  Are they worth $20 a box?  Probably not if all you're doing is making grocery lists and leaving notes for the plumber.  On the other hand, if you enjoy good writing tools, they certainly are a nice treat!


  1. Aha!
    See how few corrections you have in that draft? That's proof the writing is too fast, that your mind doesn't have time to second guess itself. Free flow like that begets so much editing that writers would rather rewrite than edit.
    *Real* writers write with pen and ink, with multiple fountain pens, with both fine and bold nibs, changing colors for each update and starting a new draft only when the previous has become impossible to decipher.
    Pencils are for chewing.

  2. Good thing I'm a pulp hack, then -- my aim in these notes was to (almost) record what was being said in a way that accurately represented his personality.

    In writing, I work to get it on paper rightfirst time, and "edit" for flow, speeling, grammar and punctuation. You can't smith words if you don't get them on the page to begin with.

  3. (See, right there, about that whole "editing for SPELLING" thing? Sigh.)

  4. I assumed it was pronounced with a Swedish accent.

  5. :)

    I have had a few (long) bouts of writer's block and one of the things that tripped me up was editing and/or trying too darned hard. I write best if I make myself tell the story, just get it on paper -- and then go back over it and try to find the most glaring mistakes.

  6. Shooting Bullseye (aka Conventional Pistol) has the same requirement. You've gotta be "in the flow" and, for Pete's sake, don't try to "fix it"!