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Maya North, continued

Bill Rogers, continued

 

 

Maya North, continued:

Chambers of the Heart

Chapter 1

            To everybody else, he was Saint Simon, the noble gay man who took care of those worse off than himself even as he valiantly fought his own battle.  After he died, they determinedly stripped away from all that made him human, even as the bonds of human flesh fell away as he fled his prison of emaciated flesh and aching bone. 

            Such a cruelty.  We are what we have become through struggle and error as well as triumph and joy.  They stripped him of his humanity, sprayed him with epoxy and installed him in the shrines of their memories as the most noble, the most beautiful, the most patient, the most loving, the most perfect of all men. 

            They thought they were making him more.  They were making him less. 

            They didn’t know him at all.

            Who did?  He had long since created the simulacrum he skillfully operated for the delectation of his viewing public all the while muttering “pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” 

            I knew that man.  I knew that man as a child who slunk out from behind that curtain when he thought no one was looking and sniped and pinched and bit until I started making enough noise for the adults to notice and then his little face brightened up, those blue eyes got rounder, shinier and more innocent (if that was possible), the sweet smile was paraded out and so the excoriation went onto my head.

            Really, Mother, it really was him. 

            I also knew the child who watched his allotted hour of TV with me, leaning against my larger, sturdier body.  I was on the floor, on my side, head propped with my left hand; he leaned back against the cushioned curve of my stomach, sometimes with his arms stretched out along my hip and my side, sometimes twined together, hands clenched under his chin as was his habit when the realities of his fragility and vulnerability had in some way been brought home to him. 

            I wanted to kill him.  Really.  Actually kill him. 

            I would’ve killed to protect him.  Really.  Actually kill.

            I couldn’t protect him at all.  I couldn’t protect him against our father who brutalized both of us out of his own wellspring of anguish.  I couldn’t protect him against the mother who laid the burden of ‘favorite child’ on him but allowed our father to continue unchecked.  I couldn’t help him with the bullies that roved the boy’s bathrooms in droves, looking for the fragile, the vulnerable, the different.  I was in junior high by the time the bullies began their marauding; they would’ve noticed if I had begun to haunt the grade school, looking for small heads to clunk together. 

            I couldn’t protect him from all the neuroses our upbringing and his native vulnerability to them gave him.  I couldn’t protect him from feeling ugly against all sensory input that had to have told him otherwise.  I couldn’t protect him from his own beauty and all the deadly temptations that brought him.  And I couldn’t protect him from AIDS, because nobody could do much about it back then, in 1983, which was probably when he got it. 

 

Bill Rogers, continued:

Flanker, the title character, was a dinosaur whose name was a hand gesture meaning "person attack left rear."  A visiting scientist, the dragoness Redflame of clan DaHar, found his species was evolving  toward full intelligence but was doomed to extinction.  This upset her.  To prove his species was worth saving, she modified Flanker to demonstrate his kind's full potential. 

By doing so she created a new intelligent species and turned it loose on an unsuspecting galaxy.  She also set in motion a chain of events that, among its other minor side effects, saved the human race.

I'd try to put in some sort of synopsis here, but the plot is intricate.  Besides, it's mystery-like; telling you the punch line would spoil it for you.

But let's talk about fountain pens. 

As with most things I write, I wrote the Tale with fountain pens in Spiral notebooks.  There are many reasons for doing this.

First, it's convenient.  Even in this day of portable computers, a pen and paper can travel with you everywhere in a way no computer can match.  You don't have to worry about batteries.  You don't have to
worry about reflections making your work unreadable.  You don't have to lug around a huge, seven-pound laptop or, conversely, struggle to type on a half-sized keyboard and read from a half-sized screen.  The
interface is that intuitive one computers strive toward, and the "screen" has effectively infinite numbers of dots per inch. 

Second, I at least write better in longhand than I do composing on a keyboard.  I can write short pieces directly on a computer, and sometimes if I'm rushed, I do.  But I find that when I'm composing longer pieces on keyboard I repeat myself.  It has to do with the difficulty of checking earlier pages to see what I've already
written. 

I also type quickly.  The fast pace makes me create sentences that are too long and too involved.

These may just be quirks of my own, but given some of the books I've read recently I think other people fall prey to them too.

Third... well, I don't know how to say this...it's ugly to have to tell someone they must give their baby a facelift...

You WILL have to rewrite.  You WILL have to trash entire sections of your work, often ones you love.  Often a section of your book will be so messed up you will save hours by throwing it out and doing it over, rather than trying to patch it up and make it work.

Pen and paper allow you to do this without pain, since you must retype your manuscript into a word processor anyway.  This forces you to take a good hard look at your draft.  You then just do any necessary rewriting as you type.  It's no extra work.  It's painless.

This little mind game works the other way around, too.  Since I know I will have to rewrite the piece when I type it, I feel free to be as wild as I want in the first draft.  I can take chances.  I can put in weird ideas.  It's total freedom!

I love fountain pens for this purpose.  I'm not alone.  Many of my writing friends love them too; far more than the percentage you'd find in the general population.

Why?  Probably a bit of old-fashionedness; reading and writing are out of style in our vapid videogame culture.  Probably a bit of reverence for the craft of writing, and for the writers of old.  When we use liquid ink on paper we commune with all the generations of writers who went before, who dipped trimmed feathers into inkwells.

But there's more to it than that.  Cabinetmakers prefer their cherished woodworking tools to Swiss Army knives, no matter how convenient the pocketknife may be.  In the same way, I think we prefer fountain pens because they work better.  They're not very convenient, but they're worth the trouble.

There's nothing wrong with ballpoints, gel balls, roller balls, and all the plethora of disposable pens on the market today.  They're tough, they're reliable, and in most cases they're cheap enough you'll never shed a tear if you destroy one. 

But the sane people of the world-- the ones who don't write-- don't use pens the way we writers do.  They might go through a week without writing anything more than their signature on a credit-card slip.  They would never think of going out back to the picnic table on a sunny Spring day and writing, writing, writing until they look up and realize it's getting dark, the way I often do. 

For the average Joe, disposable pens are fine.  The heavy pressure you need to make a ballpoint work, the skipping, the ugly and illegible writing, and the overall unpleasantness don't matter if you're only signing your name.

But if you're going to use a writing instrument to actually WRITE, you can't do better than a fountain pen.  Once you educate yourself not to do the "ballpoint clutch" and press down too hard, you will find you can fill page after page without ever tiring your hand.  Not only that, but the steadiness of line given by a polished, rigid point will grant that you may even be able to read what you've written, once you're done writing it.  You don't think your handwriting would look neater if you used a fountain pen?  Try it and see.

You don't need to spring for an overpriced,  begemmed, yuppie-jewelry pen either.  In fact, you'd be better off without one.  I've heard that certain top-brand fountain pens write horribly, and they leak.  This is in keeping with their true purpose-- to put in your pocket to impress other yuppies.  Maybe they don't work worth a darn, but that's irrelevant if you never intend to use them.

Nopenope, if you want something to USE, ask Norman to set you up with, well, one of the Hero pens maybe.  Or send him a note and ask what he thinks would work for your particular writing style and
needs.

I'm particularly fond of the Hero 100 hooded-nib pen he sold me.  It's not flexible (meaning it writes in a constant line width; line widths that vary with pressure are beloved by calligraphers and people who admire fancy handwriting) but it's dead-level practical. It writes well, it seldom fails to start writing on the first stroke,
and it has tremendous ink capacity.  Norman says it's about the most popular pen in Asia, and I can see why.  The only problem with them is that whenever Norman pries a few out of the clutches of the Hero
marketing clowns, he sells them out again in approximately twelve nanoseconds.

I have one of the steel-nib Hero pens too.  If you don't want to invest the full price of a 100, reasonable as it is, or (as is more likely) they're out of stock, the steel hooded nibs also work well.  They'll give you some idea what it's like to write with a fountain pen, for a price that is trivial by fountain pen standards. 

Mine isn't as smooth as the gold-nibbed pen.  It's finer than the Model 100, a bit finer than I like-- and I like fine points.  But it's still very good.  It's a pen that can last you years for the price of a throw-away.

These good-but-inexpensive pens are a fine place to start.  But beware; once you're using fountain pens, going back to ballpoints may not be an option.



---Bill Rogers
 

 

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If an item proves to be defective, in most cases the manufacturer's warranty will apply. However, please email us first so that we can determine the easiest way to resolve the problem to your satisfaction. In the case of fountain pens -- which are a bit more individualistic than other writing instruments -- what may at first appear to be a defect (hard starting or poor flow for example), can in almost all cases be resolved with a few simple 'tweaks' to the nib, which we'll be happy to guide you through or perhaps suggest returning to us for adjustment.

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Revised: July 27th, 2014

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