Thursday, February 14, 2008

Paper, pica, and the perils of pickiness

A hodgepodge of topics for today...

1. Paper!
Back in December, shortly after the madness of NaNoWriMo, the Typewriter Brigade's Fearless Leader, Duffy Moon, purchased a stash of old Eagle-A Typewriter Paper - 9 lb., 25% cotton bond. It's legal sized, with red stripes down the margins. I recently got to play with a sample of it (trimmed to letter sized), and I like it! I'm finding myself fascinated by the texture, more than anything. It's so wonderfully flimsy feeling, yet strong; it doesn't tear or puncture as easily as the much thicker multipurpose paper I'd been using. It almost feels like really thin paper money. I've been frightening the cats by rattling sheets of it, too....

The margin stripes are...very red. But I rather like them.. I'm terrible
about being consistent with margins when typing, and those bright red lines (while they *do* make the pages look rather like the old loose-leaf notebook paper we used to use in our Trapper Keepers back in the day...) make setting margins idiot-proof. Duffy is selling some of the boxes, so I'm purchasing one. The jury is out on whether or not I'll cut it to letter sized or leave it long.

2. Pica
A few short months ago, there was a discussion in Yahoo's Portable Typewriters group about elite (12 characters per inch) vs. Pica (10 characters per inch). I came down solidly in the elite camp, because a) you can fit more on a page and b) the typewriter I was using most and liking most at the time was my '58 (?) Hermes 3000, which happens to be elite. Now, a few months older and wiser, I'm beginning to think I was wrong, as I so often am. For one thing, I've been trying to get caught up on transcribing (still have some thirty or forty pages to enter into the computer), and since I don't have the ability to do OCR (and I'm not sure I'd trust it if I did), it's all manual, reading it off and typing it in. And I confess, the Pica pages (I switched around a little) are much easier to read. So...the last few typewriters I've picked up have been Pica, and I'm seriously thinking about selling off a few (or most of) the elites. Which, really, means the Hermes 3000s. I do like the way they type, but it's also true that I'm not using them as much. It's also true that they're about the hottest selling typewriter on eBay, for some reason. I'm guessing I could more than recoup my fifteen or twenty dollar investment. Leaving me with more cash for ribbons and paper and other fun things...

3. Pickiness.
When I'm doing a lot of writing, I am far more critical of any text I read. What this means is that I'm *more* appreciative of good writing, but bad writing grates to the point where I find it painful. Cases in point: I intensely admire C.S. Lewis, even aside from his subject matter. From a strictly technical standpoint, he is a wonderful, wonderful writer; and where his fiction is concerned, he is a master of description. I always like his books and reread many of them every few years, but when I'm writing, I'm all the more appreciative of just how *good* he is. Opposite case: I'm currently reading Robin Cook's Terminal. When it comes to casual reading, I tend to gravitate toward mysteries and what are sometimes called "medical thrillers"; i.e. stories about viruses that are going to destroy the planet, or scary medical conspiracies. Richard Preston's The Cobra Event is an example of a very good book in that genre. I was discussing books with co-workers the other day, and someone recommended I check out Robin Cook. Now...I realize that sometimes authors' books are uneven in quality, so maybe I'm being overly harsh, but I have to say, this book reads like a completely unedited, very rough draft -- and not a very good one at that. There are some errors that may just be typos on the publishers part (a last name that is spelled differently from one page to another, for example), but a lot of it is just poor writing and editing. As I read it, I have to resist taking red pen to the extra words and the descriptions that are reused for three or four different people within a short span of time. I could go on. I have far less patience for poor writing these days. I'm such a snob...

6 comments:

Duffy Moon said...

Glad you like the paper!
I'm a big fan of C.S. Lewis, also. I see you've read his space trilogy. It seems very few people have. I love them. The first time I tried to read "That Hideous Strength" I just couldn't get through it. I gave it a few years, then re-read it. Since then I've re-read it probably ten times. It's a really powerful book, I think, and my favorite in that trilogy.

P.S. I agree on the pica vs elite. My eyes ain't that good anymore.

P.S.S. Does it bother you that I said "ain't"?

Elizabeth H. said...

Intentional grammar faux paus are OK. ;-)

I first read C.S. Lewis' space trilogy when I was maybe thirteen, and of course, most of it went over my head. But the descriptions were so vivid and beautiful - at least beautiful in Perelandra and Out of the Silent Planet - and I was completely drawn in. The deeper meanings are something that I'm still trying to completely grasp. Some of his books make me feel like there's something wonderful just beyond reach, and I read them again and again hoping to get there this time around: The Great Divorce and Till We Have Faces, for example.

But I love 'em all.

I can say "'em", can't I?

Duffy Moon said...

I agree on both of those. Till We Have Faces is sort of a Narnia for adults, I think.

The Great Divorce is terrific. I may be along among Lewis fans, but I did not care for Screwtape Letters. I actually have never finished it. That seems to be his most popular (after, of course, Narnia).

Elizabeth H. said...

I think I need to read both of those next... If I'm going to binge on C.S. Lewis, I might as well take it all the way!

I do like Screwtape Letters. It isn't my favorite of his writing by any means, but to my mind, it's an interesting insight into how temptation works, and how subtle it can be. Sometimes I need the reminder...

ducly said...

I just got some paper from Office Depot. I picked Southworth 20lbs after reading Kevin Gowin's suggestion.
I have not tried the red lined margin. Thanks for the review.

Elizabeth H. said...

I, too, have a big box of the Southworth 20 lb. paper. I like it a lot for most purposes. It was a little pricey...but it's a good sized box.

The paper with the red margin is vintage paper Duffy Moon acquired. Fun stuff to play with!