Fountain Pens – what I wished I knew before I started and some thoughts

Small notebook, always close to hand. Moleskin and OTHO thin point ink-pen.

Small notebook, always close to hand.

So, I started with pens when I was a kid. I loved pens. I absolutely adored them and I wanted them, in all colors, shapes and forms. I really did. I wanted so much to become an artist, but well, that was not to be and the reality crashing down on top of me made me lock away a big box of pens and dreams, all together.
Then one day, I sort of rediscovered my interest when I found out that I couldn’t get my head around any good programs to do mind maps, keep all the ideas and comments sorted and easy to get a quick overview of. Hence, I simply picked a paper from the printer and the nearest pen and scribbled down some notes. It is far from the neatest way, but damned be evolution, few things are so easy as to take a paper and watch your notes to remember and get an overview of things. Once done, check it, store it or throw the bad ones away.

Scribbled notes

Scribbled notes

Was I alone in this? Would I become the laughing-stock of this modern age and app frenzy? Nah, I found that my hero, my idol – Neil Gaiman not only liked pens, he liked paper and he had written an entire book this way. Of course he did.
So, we newfound strength and also a newfound way to write, I opened that box I had stored away and pens. All those beautiful pens neglected.
So, what better way to motivate you than spending money on things? Well, beats me, but for me it works and I can get my inner nerd starting to explore new vistas. I read that this is good. Pick up a new hobby every now and then.  So fountain pens, inks and paper was it.

Now, my journey, while not long so far or far from over – I have already encountered a lot I had wished I knew before I started out. Sort of friendly tips and ideas. I wanted to share a few of my ideas, thoughts and learning with you. I hope that you find them helpful.

Terminology
What the hell are everyone talking about? Well, take a look here: https://blog.gouletpens.com/2014/01/glossary-of-fountain-pen-terminology , this page is a shop, but it is run by perhaps one of the shining knights in fountain pen world right now, Brian Goulet. I will tell you to read, watch and learn from this gentleman a lot throughout this piece, so well, get over it 😉
This two images (taken brazenly from Goulet’s Pinterest shows the anatomy of the pens.)

Find out the pen suitable for you.
I started writing, because I didn’t find a good enough program that could help me fix my ideas in an easily and clear way to see all my notes and ideas for my story writing. So, I got myself some paper and a pen and started. Then I realized I had a pen, a really nice pen. This is because of Neil Gaiman. He posted about writing an entire novel by freehand and that it changed his way of thinking and writing. He uses Leuchturm and fountain pens, so naturally, when you have no confidence – you mimic and wish for greatness to rub off 😉 My goal is mainly to find pens suitable for writing roughly an A4 or a few A5 pages at a time. So, for me, a steady enough pen with a good grip that suits my small hands is essential.

The state of the second-hand market, trading etc.
Where I live, you buy a pen, you keep the pen. It will either be a valuable and fond memory, or a blotch on your record that you have to pen down to your learning curve. Puns intended, even though I cringe reading them. This means that buying semi-expansive pens is an easy way to hold off buying the right pen. Since you won’t get shit back for your pens, unless they are Pelikan or really high value stuff, it is things you buy and get to keep or through like a ninja at someone and run away madly cackling into the dark night…
So, what do I want to say with this? Depending on where you live, the second-hand market could be a viable place to start to find pens for a great price, but it could also be a damned trap and if you want to sort through pens to learn your way around, it could become the path of an unwilling collector’s path.

You get what you pay for, to some degree.
Speaking of the money, in order to not quickly overspend, get a few pens. Try them and then set your goal on that one damned fine pen that could be the jewel in your collection.
You will to some degree get what you pay for, do your research and don’t trust the friendly guys selling stuff or receiving pens for free online too much. Nothing is really bad according to them, so take on the critical glasses and be critical. There are steel nibs, iridium point nibs and gold nibs. There are bad to good in each category. Gold is a different beast, it just is, and dude, it’s like gold so it is silly expansive. That’s not pens, it’s the damned metal….
Now, while the guys I refer to are a bit too friendly, in my opinion, you will find enough acid in forums to balance things out a bit. Try and listen to people’s experiences and as usual, if they can’t offer solid point pro or con, it may be to justify an expansive buy or the pen might just not be what they had hoped for.

Tinker or not to tinker
So, you got the pen in your hand, fill it with ink and starts to write. Shit, it doesn’t write like I wished it to. Do you, A return it and go off crying for the time invested and the hyperbole of waiting leading to naught? B You rip the pen apart, watching YouTube videos and adjust the tines, the flow and order mesh and whatnot online and fix it? Depending on those two, you’re either a tinkerer, or you are not. Make sure you know which you are.
If you are a tinker by heart – I strongly STRONGLY – suggest you search for videos on HOW-TO and buy really cheap pens to practice on.

So, we are getting to the more personal bits here. Please note that I’m no expert, I’m not paid by anyone and I’m not claiming that this is the best way. It is just my way – and my way isn’t complete yet. So, if you have points and ideas – please, leave them in the comments! I would appreciate comments and tips and tricks!

Regrets
We all have them, and sometimes they are really tough to admit to. But top of my mind here are a few of mine:
Buying two pens of the same. I bought two Lamy Pens, same look just because I wanted one office pen that behaved like my pen at home. I should so have gotten another color at least.
Buying my Levenger Pen, which came out as one of my most costly investments, and being the pen I use the least and which I don’t simply like. A bit more investigation might not have saved me here since some online tests tells off different experiences with the pen. I had several dry starts and bad flow. The nib isn’t damaged and shipping, toll and all, it was an expansive pen, so one would have expected more from it.

Italix Viper, the good impulse buy.

Italix Viper, the good impulse buy.

I regret the patience of waiting and learning before buying, but on the other hand, two of my first three buys are the pens I really have come to like the most; my Italix Viper and Pilot Metropolitan. Sometimes, you are lucky – sometimes, not so much. Learn to roll with the punches and make sure you have a large ‘Shit’s fucked up and stuff’ account to put it in.

I get you, but it’s still not enough, who should I ask?
I would say – ask Brian https://blog.gouletpens.com/. Brian Goulet of Goulet’s pens is one helluva champion for fountain pens and a nice and great guy. He has a lot of videos showing how to treat your pens, how to clean them, fix them, properly change nibs, ink, converters, cartridges and why you should invest in a plastic syringe. Find him and his company on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest.
If you are lucky, there may be some place in your country that talks or even where people meet up and talk about pen and fountain pen as a hobby. Here, I’m still searching.

Goals
Personally, I find that only taking notes and writing for my own need to remember things or to simply try out ideas isn’t enough. I want to write more and well, explore the way to write a bit more. So, some goals:

Scribbles and Pilot ink.

Scribbles and Pilot ink.

To learn to write better
Now, there is no amount of money you spend on a pen that will make your writing suddenly become that much better.  Practice makes perfect, with a  4$ pen as well as with a 400$ pen. So, to make practice, I am looking into incorporate some calligraphy or long style into my writing. Let’s see how that goes. Apart from that, I try to write something daily and try to concentrate on making my style easier to read, since well, taking notes is sort of pointless unless you can read it back later.

 

To learn what to write and expand that
So, with these goals, I have to figure out a way to not get stuck in boring routines and lose interest. So I have to start figuring out what and how to make this writing more frequent and rewarding. You can write quotes, lyrics, small greeting cards or simply something nice to someone you like. A nicely penned little note shows both effort and care.

 

My tips to those picking it up
Right, I have a few hard-earned lessons that I have gone through in my own time that I will share with you and hopefully I can ease some of you into this hobby. This is by no means a bible, nor the advanced wisdom of a guy on a mountain top. No, it’s more some friendly pointers of me admitting that my scatter brain wasn’t perhaps taking the most efficient road to start this hobby. Because you can spend money on it. If you get stuck in this hobby, you most likely WILL spend money.

PEN – PAPER – INK
Yes, those three is the Holy trinity – you won’t get perfect without the three being in harmony. The pen and nib will react and give different experiences depending on ink in the pen and on which paper. That’s it.
No more – no less.
You want to ride the train all the way, or at least far enough – this is the one thing you should learn and take to heart. Just buying an expansive Mount Blanc pen and fill it with cheap ink and write on copy paper won’t make you happy. Investing in some Clair Fonataine, Leuchturm 1917 notebooks, Rhodia paper or the cheaper Moleskin paper/notebooks will make a huge difference.

Lamy Safari, Italic, fine and medium nibs.

Lamy Safari, Italic, fine and medium nibs.

Get a Lamy Safari and buy
Lamy Safari is one of the best pens to start out with. It’s not perfect, it is not the best and it may not even look or even behave like the classic fountain pens. What it do have is a nice none wallet busting economy. It behaves well enough. It is a modular system, which means that even though the nibs shows some decent variation in the same size, you can buy a new nib for not much money and get to try how that style is. My suggestion is to start with a FINE nib size, get the Z50 1.1 Italic. This one for cursive text and calligraphy script etc. You can also try a broad nib. This won’t break you, but you will get a fairly good grasp of what you prefer early on, and now you can set your sights on that next pen and hopefully avoid some disappointments. The Lamy supports its own converter (a piston filler for using inks on bottles) and cartridges. This sucks, but well, it’s easy enough to find them at least. If you start, you may get stuck. LAMY has a nice range of pens and they do collectible stuff and yearly editions.
Consider yourself warned.

 

Decide what you want to write

A nib-holder pen and ink.

A nib-holder pen and ink.

Comfort, length of text, size and type of writing technique. Sketching, painting?
Why? Well, you want different grip and maybe even different inks. If you will go painting and try your hand at Manga – you may want to skip too many pens and head for a nib holder and lose nibs to start with and get iron gall inks, or Indian inks. Neither are fountain pen friendly.
Now, the kind of books or paper you want will also be different for what you want to write. Leuchturm, Rhodia, Claire Fontaine etc Notebooks can be somewhat pricey, and if you want to just write short pieces, a Rhodia A4 block of paper will be far superior. So, explore and question yourself. Now, you don’t have to limit yourself, and if you are as weird as me, you will soon have more books, troves of paper and blocks over the area too… I’m not judging you for wanting the same paper with simply another color on the lining or dots than the one you already have. Not at all.

 

Get a Pilot Metropolitan
Seriously, you will thank me. It’s a work horse, it’s a straight working tool and it show why the Japanese pens are so damned good. This is a in-step pen, can be had in several different nibs and colors and it’s a nice pen and great writer. Perfect for office or home.

TWSBI 580 Diamond, Italix Viper and Pilot Metropolitan.

Three pens I love – from the left; TWSBI 580 Diamon, Italix Viper and Pilot Metroplitan.

Get a glass dip pen
Love your inks? Want to doodle but the flushing and rinsing of pens feel like a chore when you want to draw a happy smiley in rainbow colors? Get a glass dip pen, dip write, doodle, scribble sketch – wipe dip another color and on and on.

Don’t be afraid and ask Brian!
I felt so comforted by watching Brian Goulet’s videos on YouTube. It felt friendly, kind and informative all in one. Brian is my pen guru go to guy. He explains in a friendly and informative way everything you need to start the hobby, how to care for your pen and inks. He also ships worldwide and has a great website with gouletpens.com Don’t find a video related to your problem? No problem, hit him up on Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest, Facebook and ask away. He tries to answer, but can take a bit of time.
Right, so not so you think I have a bro-crush on Brian (well maybe a small one 😉 ) here are two other fine gentleman in the hobby!
https://www.youtube.com/user/sbrebrown
https://www.youtube.com/user/PenHabit
And yes – only guys. I’m sorry, but I have not found anyone doing quite the reviews like they do, but I do follow some really talented female artists on Instagram and Pinterest. Still, the search goes on. Here’s an opportunity for you to help out, link to good reviewers! 🙂

Even if this is an Onyx ink, the cloth tells a story of refilling pens with all kinds of inks.

Even if this is an Onyx ink, the cloth tells a story of refilling pens with all kinds of inks.

Don’t be a square – get lively!
Don’t be afraid to go for shiny bright colors. These are inks and they will be OK. The dark ones have a tendency to just come out black with a subtle tone anyway. No wrong and that may be what you like, but honestly, how many shades of black do you need? Go for a coffee brown, a bright green, orange and try different ink manufacturers, because that’s the next long and big and scary step. The huge and vivid world of all these wonderful and marvelous inks that makes your writing, doodles, scribbles and illustrations come to vibrant life.
I really want to stress this, because well, some inks really will put a smile on your face as you try them out. Don’t squander that opportunity to bring a bit of craziness into your life!

Don’t worry – have fun
Finally – don’t let details drag you down. Have fun, be creative and enjoy yourself. There probably is a science and logically explanation for things, but it is as much your experience. No, it IS your experience. It is a part of you put down on the paper and graciously MAY share with others.
So again, take this last advice to heart – have fun and when you will try something new you don’t know is safe for your pen – use a cheap China pen for a dollar or two. Keep a few around – use them to experiment on – not your finest pens.

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I suck… Writers block and not feeling to write…

There are few things that suffer so much as to admit that you suck. When it is because of evidence, failure or something you do – like sports where the feedback is instant – it sucks to suck. Devastated, sad and angry you threw perhaps a fit and try to either do better or give up.

When you admit to your inner demons that you suck, not just at a thing, but completely, totally from the fucking tip of your toenail to the topmost hair on your head, and you say to that inner voice “You’re right” it is both a relief and such a fall into a dark abyss that few can fathom it, yet far too many know exactly what it is I refer to.

So, I have come to the conclusion that my writing sucks. I lost the geist, the fuel, the fire, the ideas and the different images in my head stopped whirling, twirling and dancing for me. It feels stale, I ask myself why?
Not the why as in, why do I see it? That’s one of the questions I loved to explore which exploded into me sitting and hammering on my keyboard late into nights.
It’s not the “why?” as in why do they do as they do, why are they here – what is their meaning, their purpose their reason to be either sad, happy or angry.

No, I ask myself “why?”, as in why do I write this nonsense? Why do I sit there, alone hammering on my keyboard imagining that I will eventually feel any sort of joy over my accomplishment. What accomplishment? I write, a lot, but I can’t edit for shit. That’s the truth, the honest truth. I’m really not good at it. I have sometimes simply parked that in the back of my head with my ordinary excuses:
I’m not writing this for anyone but myself.
I’m not well yet, I’m still sick and I can edit when I recuperate.
It’s not like I’m showing anything that I write anyway.
So, you see, I have a good set of excuses and mantras I can throw at my tantrums. Does it help? Sometimes, I guess, because after a day or two of feeling like utter shit at everything, I sit there and the clock is running past any sane hour and I do hammer at it again.

Lately I have started to want things. Want is not a good thing. I want for people to read what I write. I want to break out of my shell and tell people, here, look at this, I made this. The problem is that I can’t really handle criticism either – so you see, the problems of matter of facts are sort of not in my favor here – so I can’t do it in order to actually advance in my writing either.

So, I suck at writing. I read what I write and compare to things I like to read and I realize that I suck.
It hurts.
It makes me wonder why I even write this.
It makes me wonder a damn lot of things.
I simply know that I suck and I suck at finding answers except that damn “I suck” answer to most of the questions.

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The thing that leads to another turns out – STEAM PUNK…?

So, my woes in writing is starting to get the better of me. Self doubt and anxiety is not really helping and I look at all my notes for my latest project and today I seriously had to ask myself: “Is this good for me?”

I haven’t written a line on my story for real, but already i’m penning down characters, races, the world and relations between them and trying to figure out how I should make those three short passages in my mind work.

That’s usually how it starts, I get a sort of vision, a scene that plays very vividly in my mind and my brain is off to the races and starts trying to find out why and how that scene came to be, where it will lead and how it will end.

And for what? Some megabytes of a text file on my computer, expansive ink penned into expansive books as I tell myself “it’s just for me, my own well being”. Lately I’m questioning that as well. Is this making me well, or are these dreams, fantasies and lures of writing just another way that breaks me down?
A way to beat myself up?
Shouldn’t I just quit and give up?
Maybe? I don’t know really.

All those notes...

Shattered worlds

My latest crazy idea is a mix, I love mixes by the way, between Western and fantasy. To make it all work, I had to dig into the industrial revolution and then had to start thinking about how it all came to be. That worlds shattered and tore through each other and created a new world and having suddenly dimensions. Where elves and demons actually understood each other better and evil is as evil does. And of course, steam punk dwarf’s you know, because…

 

I have had some inspiration for this one, Justina Robson’s really cool series ‘Quantum Gravity’ for one, World of Warcraft, Lord of the Rings, Nordic faerie tales, Steam Punk in general and Arcanum. Mix it, trix it and try to find a way to fix it… Might stop at being fatigued in my hands from writing all those crazy ideas down in a journal…

Well, for now, let me leave you with a few lines from a song that is stuck in my mind which to some degree I think sums up my feelings today:
From Alice In Chains “Don in a Hole”
Down in a hole, feelin’ so small
Down in a hole, losin’ my soul
I’d like to fly, but my wings have been so denied

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A new project, fantasy and all the woes that comes with it….

I love fantasy, I always have. Since the days I first found that there were fairy tales for grown ups, my life suddenly didn’t look so bleak no more. There would be escapes from the life that I couldn’t quite fit into. Ursula Le Guin was one of the first authors I found, then Tolkien, than Fantasy and Science Fiction books with many short stories from authors from all over the world.

Then one day, I learned English, and my world exploded.

I try to keep notes… and such…

So, when sitting here and wondering if I would ever write again, since I have been struggling lately, a story sort of attacked me. That’s usually how it is for me. It’s not an urge, it’s an idea or a figment of something which my mind sort of says “That be kinda cool” and I allow time and energy to expand on the idea and if it grips me, it becomes an obsession and then instead of anything, I hammer away in a maniac’s tempo on my keyboard. I don’t really call this being, you know, an author or anything. This is fun and as such I was slightly taken back when I realized that in under three weeks, it’s vacation, I have written a full length book. How the heck did that happen?

A half elf, you know because elves are hot and sometimes humans too, or something…

A Dwarf, with Scottish accent and a name with thunder. Sure, why not?

Now, book, let’s take it easy. It’s the first write through, you know the thing that breaks Word as you open it because Word says there are too many errors of, well, everything. And being fantasy, there are words that Word never heard about. Still, it’s there. It is on my computer and I’m starting book two. This is fun for me. A way to write about the same characters in a new light it appears. Because I tend to stick to certain archetypes, and even if I wanted to get some fresh perspectives, misery, woe, anguish and pain and melancholy spiced with a certain unhappiness and characters still trying to get on with life. So, enjoy some scribbled unreadable notes about two of the characters in the last book.

Fantasy. It’s a weird one isn’t it? I am writing my own fantasy in Swedish, a book which I’m trying to do more, what I believe authors do, like real ones; like check things, add small notes and read chapter by chapter and so on. This book is not so fun all the time, but more work. This is simply borrowing loads of stuff and just dive into int.

Or is it? No. Even though I was planning on making it a more or less Dungeon and Dragon settings type of fantasy, using Psionics, Drow, elves, Eldarins, Dwarfs, Halflings etc, you always end up in, How much can I borrow? How much can I change before people get lost in the excisting preconceptions of what these names should mean? Can I use something and then slightly alter it?

GAH!

Well, I’m not minding too much of it now since I am writing mostly for the fun of it, and might even post the first thing in its entirety here, once its edited. Got it? It’s a joke. In a few months I will hardly remember this. It will be an obscure thing of the past that just happened. In the meantime, a few glimpses of the process and the things my damn brain makes me do, just because, that one scene of a Drow fighting a Wood elf, talking about what good and evil is.

I don’t always write fantasy, but when I do, I draw maps…

Still, I don’t know about you, but fantasy always ends up with you making maps. Why? Because fantasy is really one long journey from here to there. Why? Because they are adventuring. No one in fantasy are just this guy, sitting at home and adventure comes to his door knocking. Unless your a monster then…
Oh no.
No more ideas!
It’s summer for F’s sake! 😉

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A new way to write…

Why is it sometimes so hard to write? How come that the demon inside my head telling me that every little word I write down is just another word in a long line of wasted energy in something nobody will read anyway? Because sometimes, I believe that demon. And by sometimes I mean most of the times. Still, I get something out of my little hobby. I get to do some self-surfing. Try out ideas, make a stand on things I haven’t entirely taken a stand on as of yet and challenge many of my ideas and views.

Too bad, I come out of it as feeling a freak lost on an island and the party is on the other side.

But I do write, and I love to begin sentences with but, though you shouldn’t. OK, I try not to do it when writing my books. So, to lessen my self-inflicted burdens, I have made two changes in my routines.

  1.  I stopped my ongoing books that I wrote in English, and begun a new book. It was an idea that I have had going in the back of my head for a long time.
  2. I allowed myself to explore the idea before manically starting to type away at it. The concept, the idea changed drastically over a week or a ten-days period. From being sort of a teenage book with a more humorous take, it turned into a rather dark and bleak modern magicians and alternate realities sort of book.  It’s still not entirely set though, so I am tweaking it.
  3. I’m no longer writing linear. I instead do my .4 on this list, so well, eh, none linear it was. I allow myself to skip back and forth in the story, writing episodes, chapters etc before and after each other depending more on my mood. This makes it a bit difficult and I have to go back and forth changing things, but it makes it easier to write because some days I can allow myself not just a sweet to the coffee, but also write a part in the book that I have a craving for.
  4. I’m writing down my ideas and support not on the computer, but by hand, in a notebook. Totally nerdy and totally Neil Gaiman’s fault. 😉 It does feel pretty good though. Some days I don’t feel like starting the computer up to type just a few phrases. I then write them by hand and let them sit there, next to my keyboard waiting for me to get inspired.

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  5. Writing on the go. A Cherry MX Red split keyboard. mmmm…..

    Admit your taste for Cherry Mx Switches. OK, nerdy I know, but I do love keyboards. For some time I have been typing on mechanical ones, exclusively  and I do love them. I do like the Blue, but more as a notion rather than for typing. Something about the sound and the feel reminds me of the old school typing machines. Still, my absolute favorite to type with are the Cherry MX Red switches.  So, I now switched back to those instead of trying to get to enjoy my latest investment in a Cherry MX Brown keyboard (the thing so to say in between Cherry Blue and Cherry red switches.)

I don’t have a real passage for you now, and I realize that few, if any, of the very few visitors I have aren’t from Sweden so the next thing published would probably mean nothing, or something chaotic auto translated by Google.

Inspiration from my new book comes from Dark Souls 3, Jim Butcher, Justina Robson, Robert Jordan and well, all things Fantasy and magically heavily mashed up in a blender and sifted through moi’s twisted brain.

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Lexical density, Gunning Fog, Hard words and low self esteem – perils of writing

I haven’t posted much lately. Truthfully I haven’t written as much either. Having all kinds of problems with things sort of puts a dent in your hopes and wishes. Being low, usually means being insecure and being insecure leads to questioning and right now, seeing the progress bar of my work I see the lexical density, the gunning fog and hard word use etc and then I check what it means and i feel like I should just quit.

This makes Panda sad...

Progress of writing

 

 

I mean, how much more abuse should I put my self through, for something that will most likely never leave my own desk? Doubt, fear, anxiety, shame and feeling inadequate in all ways possible, are really not traits that will ease the procedures to actually even try to send any of this anywhere. Too many good authors and writers are failing already, why add to that pile? For the love of the craft? Seriously, it’s not a craft for me. It is escapism, the stories and vivid images invading my head and my mind that I tried to tell myself could be of interest to put down. Sort of a weird idea of documenting the return of creativity.

At first I was happy to have an outlet again. But outlet’s sometimes become too much and sitting here with text amassing to several books in length so far, and realizing that what it represents are simply hours most likely wasted. I even start several sentences with ‘And’ and that despite me learning early that only Stephen King gets away with that. So, should I simply give up? Or try to stick to my native language? Should I keep pushing, or should I simply keep this in the obscurity of my own head, and never ever mention a word of it ever again to anyone?

All these options have merits, and tomorrow I may look upon them in a differnt light. I fear though that for me, I will always come back to this, my own cross-road in my own hell. Standing there with the Deja Vu of my misery and low self esteem wondering which damn road at least won’t lead me back to that damned cross road. The obvious answer is to take the dead end way, but that one is not for me. Only the dark inside me suggest it, teases it and the finality of it bores me. I want so much more. I need something else, but right now, I’m stuck sitting at this cross-road again, not knowing where to turn or where my next step should take me.

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The murder mystery of inspiration

Can’t rightly say why I tended to come back to this place. It was a place where I like to go, despite how it makes me feel. The dim lit locale has this wonderful bar, brass and gold with dark velvet and a big old tree surface. You can see how time of service had broken into the surface. Like this bar had its own story, its own scars and love marks. My glass of red wine was set down in front of me. The bartender looked at me, his eyes asking “Anything else?”  My shake told him “No, I’m good”. I took a sip, felt relaxation settling into my weary body and bones. My mind started that journey where it probed outside my own personal sphere, drinking greedily from everything out of the surroundings. Was this the place that would help me find out the perfect murder mystery? The next great big title? Hmm, I looked around.

Don’t ask me why I picked this place to begin with. The music? Perhaps. The black guy standing on the small stage is moving perfectly to a rhythm building up. Bass and drums and then a piano slowly build up a slow heavy rhythm. It’s fucking perfect. So, I take up my notebook, take my pen out and start by writing a big fucking question mark as the starting point for my new book. A murder mystery about a…?  Something something that gets killed by a…. thingy majong? Yeah, questions.  The guy makes a few noises in the microphone and I know I will lose my concentration. He is hmm:ing in that way only someone really good do.

Recall that I said this place, I don’t know why I picked it? Double that hesitation as to why I’m such a masochist. The guy takes a few topics from the audience and then starts. This MC is rapping like a submachine gun with just a few lines and the flow of words that builds up to the slow rhythm, makes my own efforts look like that of an ant tying to move a leaf as on stage. Like a bull rushing up against the misery, the injustice and how it is to be black in today’s society. I sigh, take another sip, my head moves in that white way, but fuck that. This is so good I just sit and listen. I bite back my thoughts about not being privileged as the words hits a nerve. It’s a consideration of where you are standing when you are saying it. We all look up, and nobody likes being called privileged. It takes away our own struggle, and it makes a mockery of our own misfortunes and more so, our achievements. But here? It’s not the time nor the place to bitch about it. I just enjoy the stream of words complimenting the music.

I look down at my notepad, I have written a few things. Black detective. A singer. A club. All generic and so cliché. I sigh. I also have a big ‘DOUBT’ written at the side. Can I, as a white guy, write about a black detective? I want to. The guy on stage would be my mental image. He looks fit, he is quick and he laughs and still he moves in a powerful way. Probably a boxer, maybe martial artist. He catches enough eyes of the women on the dance floor to fit in the generic role model of a detective. So, is the generic really ready for yet another detective story?

A quick search on Amazon gives me the answer and I toss away the paper with notes. I order more wine, and some peanuts – please. It’s all there, like magic. I make a note to tip well. The guy on stage leaves to applause and people calling out loudly just how good he were. A woman comes out from the room behind the scene. She hugs the guy, steps up to the mic and nods to the drummer, who starts another rhythm. Harder, harsher and angrier. More aggressive, and he hit’s the cymbals with a frenzy. The woman bites in. No words from the crowd, no help. She just bites away, and I put down my pen again. This time I feel shame creeping up from the floor, clings to my leg and slowly claws its way up to take a cold grip of my scalp. So being white is not bad enough. I had to be a man too. I sigh and my character is a strong small woman who is strong and… Another paper flies through the air. I look at the red wine, it’s almost empty. Again? Shit, I know why all characters are white, drunk and miserable now. They are the ego of me, the author. And me the author is like a magnet. Attracting thoughts from the surroundings. It’s just that some things, I simply can’t write down, some things are worse than how I can phrase it. I try to take look at my self in the mirror. I see nothing. I try to open, but I have no filters. It’s all or nothing, and this night? This night, it’s too much. Some things… some things, are just the way they are. The newspapers and Twitter makes you consider suicide at least twenty times before I even consider to write another book, another tweet or even updating your Facebook page. Fuck it. I’m just filled with doubt and having that sensitive vibe going.

I shut my note-book, orders a whisky and the guy gives me a wry grin. It’s not an unusual ritual.

“Having a rough night John?” He asks with a smile and pours me a triple, cheap blend with ice and a small lemon twist and a coke on the side.

“Yeah, every night Damon” I say and nods my thanks. “Shit is real and stuff you know.” I say.

“Yeah, I hear you bro” he says and scopes up the money I laid down for the drinks.

As he reaches for the change in the cash register, I stop him with a gesture.

“We’re good Damon” I say with a thankful nod and sips my abhorrent whisky, that would probably make a Scottish distillery worker cry. I know Damon charged me a single anyway, so a healthy tip is alright.

I turn around and another guy comes up on stage. Same little ritual: he hugs the woman, gives the drummer a nod and a slower heavy beat is starting. He starts slowly, forcefully and build up as the other instruments fill in the void. His voice gives place to the music and goes back to small rhymes, some short lines and the music is tripping all over the place. I do that white man digging again, but with a grin. So fuck ‘em, I like this shit. It’s good and I don’t have to solve the biggest mystery for a detective story tonight, what the fuck to write. Tonight, I just know that music killed the inspiration for murder.

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