Friday, October 8, 2010

Reading and Scanning

I've been throwing the bulk of my online energies into the relaunched NaNoWriMo forums, so I've got just a few musings here today:
  • The letter-exchange program trundles on. I've decided that getting real mail that's not a bill is one of the most honest pleasures one can get for $0.44 (the other being dark chocolate Reese's cups.) Though in this age of instant-twitchy-"like button" feedback, I usually start feeling guilty the moment I open the envelope, like I need to stop wasting time and reply. This isn't significant or profound, but just another shade of neurosis you can use to paint your mental picture of me.
  • The Typewriter Brigade is an enthusiastic bunch, and if you haven't signed on, you should, especially if you're waffling about whether or not you're going to participate. Even the young'uns in the group are well-spoken and classy. Seriously: what a nice group of people to write with. You should do it, too.
  • And related to that, I've wheeled The Beast into its writing home for the next two months. I am trying very hard to resist the Royal Empress that Jay Respler has offered up. Fairly easy, since he's on the other side of the country, and shipping that behemoth would be crazy expensive. But my God, I love the look of the thing. (That one's Olivander's.) It's like a hunk of functional Googie architecture... on your desk.
  • So the plan is: get published, get crazy rich, move to a bigger house, buy an SG-1 and an Empress to keep one another company. That's the plan. Yup. Starting... now!
  • Actually, that's not the plan. For a little perspective on writing, check out this post on dreams versus expectations, and keeping the one from turning into the other. Luckily for me, I'm still living in the dream world. Ha!
  • Eats, Shoots & Leaves should be required reading for everyone on the Internet. It's ideal book for nitpicking neurotics like me who freak out about apostrophe mis-use. Lynne Truss is the patron saint of the fussy.
  • Yes, I read humorous punctuation guides for pleasure. This is a problem why?
  • Once fine point that Truss makes and that I just re-read last night is the difference between reading on a page, and reading on a screen. On the page, your eyes move across and down, across and down, across and down. On the screen, your eyes stay fixed, and the page moves across them. To me, it's the difference between reading and scanning, and that could be why I generally hate the experience of screen-reading so much; I'd sooner print out a multi-page document and read it at my desk than sit at that same desk and read off my monitor, even though I have a nice, bright, large screen that can adjust its type size to even my lousy vision. Reading on a screen feels different because it is different. Well, duh.
  • I mention this also because Staples appears to be selling the Kindle in their stores, and I was oddly compelled to pick up the sample model and hold it the other day. It sure is... pretty. So hard when the gadget-lust intersects with the reading-lust. Or in this case, partners up with it. And never mind that Amazon is generally behaving only a shade less evil than Apple when it comes to supported formats on their devices, and how they appear to be trying very, very hard to place themselves between readers and any title we may want to read... I was still tempted. Didn't give in, though. Not this time.
Edited to add:

To get on the mail-exchange list, send a note to typed (dot) letter (at) gmail (dot) com. First found out about this in February on Strikethru. Has it been that long already? Wow.


Elizabeth H. said...

One of these days I need to get in on the whole letter-exchange program. Lately I've been corresponding with some family members the good old fashioned way, but it'd be fun to expand that. Is there somewhere I can go / someone I can contact for more information? I missed writing anything down last time I saw a mention of some sort.

I *love* "Eats, Shoots & Leaves." ('Murican period placement there, by the way, which isn't logical to me, but whatever.) Lately I've been stalked by misplaced apostrophes. Even the Irish session I'm attending is no refuge: there's a big, professionally-made banner which declares that Irish sessions take place on Tuesday's. ACK!

That book is sweet solace.

mpclemens said...

LFP and others: I had to go digging -- has it really been since February? -- but here's the original post on Strikethru about the pen-pal setup:

Anonymous said...


By the way, speaking of response time, I finally responded to your last letter. I explain why there was delay but I still feel like a schmuck.


Yes, you should get involved. It's quite fun. I don't know how Strikethru went about matching people with other people. I was just thinking the other day that it would be cool to include some more fellow typewriter/pencil/fountain pen-enthusiast penpals, so if you or anyone else needs someone to write to, I'm down.

Ryan said...

It's actually me that runs the letter exchange. I feel a resurgence coming along.


Duffy Moon said...

One other thing about the Empress? It's shell is so enormous and bulbous, and so much bigger than the actual working mechanisms inside require, that you could probably use it to smuggle a couple of those little tiny flat portables into your house as well. When I was cleaning out the innards of my Empress, it was sort of like working in the engine compartment of my old '79 Impala: you could nearly *stand up* inside that compartment while you worked.

Unknown said...

So glad I ran across your post today before heading to Borders with my 40% off coupon. I was planning on using it for another Rhodia pad (like I really need another one of those), but now I'm going to use it to buy Eats, Shoots & Leaves. My wife read a book by Lynn Truss about rudeness (Talk to the Hand, I believe) and shared some of the fun parts with my. Hilarious!

For some people, it's misused or misplaced apostrophes . . . my obsession is the misuse of "that" and "which" (usually by using "which" when the writer should use "that"), which is widespread even among those who write for a living. I'm talking about lawyers, judges, etc. Misuse even occurs regularly in statutes, which arguably changes their meaning. Grrrr.