Wednesday, December 07, 2005

What do Neil Gaiman and Julie Slick have in common?

I keep telling you, this is fate. Ha!

So. Neil? Julie?

Err...just so you know, Alice Cooper is a Republican.

But yeah, yeah, a hell of a nice guy, anyway.

(I obviously met Alice, too, on the night Julie performed with him but declined to have my photo taken. And of course that's Julie on the right, playing last year's Christmas present, the lovely Rickenbacker bass (refer to December, 2004 archives here for the story of the century about that debacle), and vocalist/guitarist Teddi Tarnoff on the left)

Okay, just so you all know, I had this post prepared yesterday but had it on hold, waiting for some more Eric news, which, unfortunately, I still have to keep under wraps.

In the meantime, what do you think happened? I got a post from Neil Gaiman himself in the comments section of yesterday's blog entry.

After my kids administered smelling salts and I stopped running around the living room screaming like a madwoman, I realized the implications of his post, which is as follows if you are too lazy to scroll down and read it for yourself:

"Neil said...

Truth to tell, the Waterman 52 is a wonderful signing pen, but it's only a so-so novel-writing pen. The nibs do lovely things on paper, but it's a little light and not the most legible pen you'll ever write with. My favourite novel-writing pen is probably the Lamy 2000 -- there's a write up on it at
They retail for $145 but you can find new ones on eBay for half that..."


Because guess what. Before getting that note from Mr. Gaiman, I decided to treat myself to the vintage Waterman fountain pen I mentioned yesterday after all (which, by the way, I learned was manufactured around 1926-1928), but since I have no idea even how to use one, I wrote to the seller with some questions. In a totally unbelievable for this day and age move, Jake from Jake's Pens, where I found the 52 vintage Waterman, is sending me the pen free of charge to try out. If I like it, I can paypal him; if I can't work it properly, all I have to do it return it. I'm kind of astounded by his generousity. Here's a copy of our correspondence to each other so you can all have a giggle at what a dork I am, but I cannot believe this kind of chivalry still exists:

Letter from me to Jake:

Hi - before I send off the paypal money for the pen, and you're going to think I'm a complete idiot when I tell you this-- but I've never written with one of these before and I want one because I'm a writer and a famous author I adore (Neil Gaiman) uses the same pen. question is: Do I need anything else with this order? I'm assuming I at least need ink. Do I need extra "nibs" or whatever they are called? Do you sell this stuff and if so, can you put together a package for me and then tell me the exact amount so I can paypal it all at the same time?

I know, I know. This is so lame.

Jake's response:

Hi Robin -
Don't worry about "lame" questions. There are not many of us left that actually write with fountain pens so having a "convert" is welcome. Even more welcome is a convert to vintage fountain pens.

Let's do this. Don't send any $. I will send you the pen and a bottle of ink so you can try it out. Actually I don't have any unopened bottles of the ink that I like, Parker Quink, but it is easy to get online. I do have some ink that I got at a pen show that isn't my favorite. You can have a bottle to try out the pen. If you like the pen, send payment for the pen only. Keep the ink, although I recommend Quink. (If you like the ink I send I have plenty more you can have for mailing cost only.)

Just send your address and I will get the pen and ink in the mail in the morning if the above is suitable to you.
Best, Jake
PS You do not need extra nibs, and, yes, the writing points are indeed called nibs. On quality vintage pens they are usually 14 kt gold and won't deteriorate. FYI they are 14 kt gold because 1920's ink was so corrosive that only gold could stand up to it. Today's ink is quite benign though.

Seriously. How cool is Jake? Stay tuned for how this all turns out. But I am determined to do this and do it well. Only now it appears I have to also purchase a Lamy 2000 for writing my next book in longhand. I like what Neil has to say about that. He says using the fountain pen and writing in longhand slows him down...he takes more time with his writing and this helps him creatively. This is interesting to me and makes a lot of sense because I am sometimes stunned by the errors in my work when I strictly use the computer...when I print out what I've written, I see the same words used over and over; I see statements/thoughts which I begin but don't properly follow through...oh, it's a regular horror show.

And I rather like, no, love the idea of a vintage pen. And wow, a 14k gold nib. I'm really psyched. So I will save the Waterman for future book signings because you know, I sign thousands at a time. Hahahaha - well, I can dream, can't I? Hmmm. Now. To find out what Neil uses for paper. I picture him with beautiful leather bound journals, but of course if I research it I'm going to find out he uses black and white composition books -- you know, the kind we all used in elementary school and can buy three for a dollar at the discount store. But if I am going to be using a vintage fountain pen with ink, I think a beautiful journal with heavy expensive cream colored paper is in order, don't you?

But in other rather bizarre news, yesterday, before receiving his post, for the first time since I began reading his journal, I dropped Neil a note about all of this -- telling him that I'd bought the Waterman pen and I asked him what kind of paper does he use, etc. Because he usually publishes a Q&A thing from fans on his blog a couple of times a week but I never really expected to be chosen, and in truth, I'm pretty sure he stumbled on me via Google blogsearch or something and it's just an incredible coincidence.

Anyway, lest people start to think I'm the Kathy Bates character in the Stephen King movie, Misery, unless I have some momentous news, that's my last mention of Neil Gaiman for a while. Though he continues to be my hero writer-wise for 2005.

One final thing I will say on the subject, though, is that I've been really depressed this holiday season and have been struggling to write every day. While I haven't been able to pin down exactly why I've been so sad, I think, besides the war in Iraq and the other horrors in connection with the Bush administration, I'm still experiencing a let down following my return from England because I can't wait to go back, coupled with the fact that realistically, this is most likely the last year this family will all be together and living here at Christmas. Julie and Matt will surely have their own apartment by next December; Eric will be touring the world or living in that mansion, and I see myself alone with the computer, which will probably be the only thing decorated in lights.

But getting that comment from Neil Gaiman yesterday and the whole pen experience with Jake has me really flying high and excited to do some serious work today for the first time in weeks. Yay!

Oh, P.S. I am not taking the paralegal job. What was I thinking?????

Off I go, then.