Monday, August 23, 2010

More Like a Knife

I'm editing my gardens book, aided by a new nib: the extra-fine on my Pelikan M215.

I normally use a medium nib, which produces a crisp but fatter line: more colour, boldness, smoothness.

But for editing, it's not colour or richness I'm after. It's precision.

And it's curious how the tool unites with consciousness. I'm in a mood of resolve, brutality, coolness. No passage is so sweet or nostalgic that I can't delete it. No idea is so precious (to me) that it can't be cut out. The pen is less like a paintbrush, and more like a knife.

The extra-fine fits this mood perfectly. Still a smooth, lightly-wielded instrument. But it is severe. It suggests efficiency: of ink, space and language.

Of course I can edit without it, just as I can rewrite on computer, or with a rollerball.

But where possible, it's encouraging to have the right tools for the job. And, perhaps more importantly for anyone seeking mastery: to know the right tools when you see them.

4 comments:

Rachel Fenton said...

Pleased for you that the editing is bringing some positivity.

Damon Young said...

Certainly. It's not all single malt whisky and tiramisu, this job - but there are certainly moments of sweetness and intoxication.

Vanda Symon said...

I like fine nibs, as I write quite small. When I'm editing I like to use the fine pens as to me it is more delicate, more like crafting, and in vibrant yet delicate colours, purples or pinks.
I like your seeing the extra-fine nib as a knife-like tool in editing, for excising, clinical. We all have such different approaches to the process.

Damon Young said...

I've used the persimmon colour for editing, which works very well. (Luminescent orange-red.) But pink and purple would distract me. (Not difficult.)

As for the knife metaphor, it has two functions: inscribing precisely and cutting away carefully. Scrimshaw and carving, I suppose.