Monday, September 05, 2016

Olivetti 35

I found an Olivetti 35i on eBay which the seller claimed was brand new, never been out of the box. He opened the box to lake a picture of its contents. But the machine, he claimed, had never been used. I took a chance and bought it, and indeed it turned out to be as the seller described it: brand spanking new. It still had the plastic inserts placed there by the manufacturer in order to prevent the carriage from moving during transportation and delivery. It in fact had never been used. There was still ink in the ribbon (black and red). The only thing I needed to do was place a drop of sewing machine oil on the ribbon lifter (or whatever that thing that lifts the ribbon is called) and it was good to go. I haven’t had any problems with it so far and consider myself the happy owner of a new Olivetti typewriter. For someone who’s tired of buying other people’s junk, this has been pure serendipity.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My Writing Process - the Planning Stages

Using manual processes to write in this digital age might appear odd or anachronistic — perhaps even an affectation. But I don’t care. I use what I was taught to use when I was in school. It’s a method that works for me, and I’ll stick with it.

In the initial stages of writing, I organize a story by plotting it out on my whiteboard, where it looks like an engineer’s left-brained process. I then use a portable manual typewriter (recently a Silver-Reed) and type a quick sketch of each episode on index cards. I choose to use colored index cards in order to break the narrative into the four-month timeframe of the story — a different color for each month. I tacked the index cards to my large corkboard, where the different colors pop out and demand attention. There’s also something aesthetically pleasing about the motley display.

So far I haven’t used the computer for the planning stages of my current work of fiction. To an outsider, the whiteboard, index cards, corkboard, manual typewriter — it all might seem like something Mr. Keating in “Dead Poets Society” was referring to when he said, “We’re not laying pipe.” And he was right. Writers aren’t laying pipe. But the basic blueprint, the design of the story, must be present before the actual writing begins. Some people make it up as they go along. But for me that isn’t possible. I have to work out the entire story ahead of the actual writing so that when I’m finished with the outline, there are no narrative inconsistencies. The story logic is inviolable. I can then begin writing without asking the unnerving question: What comes next? I know what comes next because I’ve figured it all out ahead of time.
Nothing could be more freeing.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Azusa Fire

Azusa Fire

Massive fire in Azusa today. The spew from this conflagration looks like what you’d expect from an active volcano. Combined with the triple-digit temperatures we’ve been having, and this is a pretty scary situation.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Why Karl Ove Knausgaard Can’t Stop Writing

Karl Ove Knausgaard

Karl Ove Knausgaard in a short period of time has thrust himself into the forefront of the world’s greatest writers — certainly those who get a lot of press and attention. He’s even been mentioned as being a possible Nobel Prize winner.