Writer’s Materials

December 11, 2008

For His Dark Material, Philip Pullman uses A4 size paper of narrow rule.  He writes only on one side with a fancy ball point pen, looks like a Mont Blanc.  You can read more about how he works here:  http://www.philip-pullman.com/

Philip Pullman’s talk at Barnes and Noble

Stephen King began ‘Dream Cather’ with a pen and notebook.  He talks about this in ‘On Writing’.

Anne Lamott likes to keep index cards and a short pen in her back pocket for capturing ideas.  She wrote about this in ‘Bird by Bird’.

Dorthea Brande encourage writing the morning page with a pen and paper.  Her excellent book ‘Becoming a Writer’ also has a section on typewriters too. 

I’ve read all three of these books and want to look for more of this sort.

Jonathan Safron Froer Collects blank pages of writers.
Mary Gordon’s essay in nytimes.com Writer’s writing.

I’m starting bits about writers who use pen and paper to write their stories.  I welcome your knowledge here, if you know of any to add.

Unicef notebooks

March 26, 2007

Unicef notebooks

Originally uploaded by n2design.
I want to give a shout out to Unicef, without them we would have starved on Pulau Bidong. This picture is from n2design, who has an excellent website about Rhodia, Rhodia Drive.

Letter’s Lives

January 12, 2007

Update: 3/16/07 rhodiadrive.com/2007/03/12/letter-writer/

Update: 2/5/07 Monday…A letter from France arrived. I suspect it was from Nath. He sent me a note apologizing for the tardiness and two exquisite tea stained calligraphy. I wish everyone apologize this nicely.

The Name of the Gold

Update: 01/11/07

I started my new year with a precious Letter from Lunarmusings.

flickr.com/groups/Letter’s Lives

Update: 12/6/06

Writings inspired by Magic Paula’s question: “What is Time?” from the Letter’s Lives Group on Flickr.

A nomadic tribe wondering through a labyrinth carried by the wind
An ancestral grid dividing the chronology
the wind whispering it’s strange language for trees to decipher, transmute and deflect.
The days are a canonical mocking of our small existence.

Update: my letter to Lunarmusings arrived shortly after October 14. I wanted to mail it on time for October Friday the 13th cancellation date. I am glad that I can bring joy to others through my letter. I will work on a letter for my wife, and a few out of state friends. One I met at the Hungarian Residency, an other friend in Japan. I met Masao in college.

I’ve been writing more letters now. I sent a missive for my brother A’s 30th birthday.

On the island Pulau Bidong, I saw my neighbor writing letters all the time. I didn’t even know where the post office was on the island. I wished that I had writen. I was only ten years old at the time.

To Nath,

What’s the rule about posting photos of the letter i’m going to send to Lunarmusing? Should I not post the photo of my letter to her before she gets my actual Letter?


ps notice my name is french derivative. I don’t know the history of my name.

A few words about my letter to Nath. Nath has started a Letter’s Lives group on Flickr.
Some related links:

my wordpress tag Vietnam

To Whom it may concern,
I would like to write to Binh Danh and correspond with him on his visit to Pula Bidong. I lived there in 1978.
-Duc Ly

Hi Ee Lin Wan,
My name is Duc. I lived on Pulau Bidong in 1978. Thanks for your story. I’m trying to remember much of my experience on the islan. Hope you write back and share some more stories.

Some related links:

my wordpress tag Vietnam




Name of the Rose

January 8, 2007

wikipedia The_Name_of_the_Rose

The following link provides some information:


On August 16, 1968, I was handed a book written by a certain Abbe Vallet, Le Manuscrit de Dom Adson de Melk, traduit en francais d’apres l’edition de Dom J. Mabillon

“I completed a translation using some of those large notebooks from Papeterie Joseph Gilbert in which it is so pleasant to write if you use a felt-tip pen”

“large notebooks . . . felt-tip pen” (p. 1) [Eric Backos offers the following suggestions about the author’s emphasis on the material objects used for writing]: Authors often use seemingly irrelevant references to mundane objects to foreshadow broader textual elements. The importance of writing material is particularly prominent in fiction using the recovered manuscript as a plot device. Umberto Eco, Edgar Allan Poe and Paul Auster all use writing material for foreshadowing plot or to illuminate the inner workings of characters. Particular examples of writing materials as hints to the reader are found in Eco’s The Name of the Rose, Poe’s “The Purloined Letter” and Auster’s City of Glass.

Eco’s fictional translator in The Name of the Rose foreshadows the success of his mission with a comment about the practicality of his equipment and the enjoyment, even recreational quality, of translation. “I completed a translation using some of those large notebooks from Papeterie Joseph Gilbert in which it is so pleasant to write if you use a felt-tip pen” (Eco 1). Further, the translator admits writing “out of pure love of writing” (Eco 5).

While Eco and Poe use quality to foreshadow events favorable to their characters, Paul Auster uses the reversed approach. In City of Glass, Daniel Quinn, already fallen from poet to hack writer, begins his final collapse with the purchase of a cheap notebook after having been “always on the lookout for good spiral notebooks” (Auster, New York Trilogy, p. 46). Yet Quinn is “at a loss to explain to himself why he found it (the cheap notebook) so appealing.” Auster further illustrates Quinn’s slide into insanity with the change from a fountain pen, (unmentioned, but evidenced by spent ink cartridges on Quinn’s desk.) to a pitiful $1 ballpoint (Auster 63).

Eco uses a more complex approach to writing materials in the monastery of In the Name of the Rose. The Abbot’s display of the wealth of the monastery to William and Adso exposes the Abbot’s pride, vanity and avarice. “It is the most immediate of the paths that put us in touch with the Almighty: Theophanic matter” (Eco 145). Similarly, as the monks use the finest materials available and labor arduously to copy crumbling texts, the quality of the writing materials illustrate pride and vanity rather than devotion to God.

Young Adso is drawn into the Abbot’s argument and, while observing a rubricator at work, muses that “the sheet would become a kind of reliquary, glowing with gems studded in what would then be the devout text of the writing” (Eco 185). Adso then makes the mistake of assigning God’s power of life giving to the copyists. “They were producing new books just like those that time would inexorably destroy� therefore, the library could not be threatened by any earthly force, it was a living thing” (Eco 185). Of course the reader knows the gods never take hubris lightly, and these passages foreshadow the eventual destruction of the monastery. The roles of writing material permeate In the Name of the Rose; however, the subtleties and complexities are too many to call this fine thread of scriptocentric hints a “clew” without indulging in a very great vanity. Even the fictional translator and the aged Adso apologize for interpreting their own work. Repentance and penance would be in order for the critic if not for Eco’s indulgence: “Nothing is of greater consolation to the author of a novel than the discovery of readings he had not conceived but which are prompted by his readers” (Eco, Postscript to The Name of the Rose, in abridged form appended to the paperrback edition of the English translation; p. 506). Perhaps, then the highest aspiration of a critic is to be today’s rose and not yesterday’s prick” (ibid. Eco 502).
Squidoo Paper

Nowy Rok

January 4, 2007

Happy New Years!

I’m back from travels afar. Time is a funny thing. I’m loopy from Jet Lag.

Airline magazines are inspirational. I read them and day dream of all the times I can have to do the projects. I discover thing which I like and dream of having.

I watched ‘The Illusionist’ a beautiful film with cleaver plot.

But in reality time is limited.

Sometimes you wake in the odd hours of the night and plan in your head what you want to do the next day. When you wake, you are tired and can’t accomplish as much as you want to.

At the Cafe Goethe of Frankfurt airport, a woman sitting next to me is writing in her pocket Moleskine journal. She unwraps the plastic skin away from the notebook and proceed to write immediately, filling up the page with her thought.

Book Prize

October 10, 2006


Literary Battles!

I remember the time Charles Fraizer’s ‘Cold Mountain’ beat out Don Delilo’s ‘Underworld’. A first time debut novel beat out the literary Giant.

This year a daughter beat out her mother. It is the second Indian Writer I recall. The other is ‘God of Small Things’.

One of my favorite books ‘The English Patient’ by Michael Ondaatje won some time ago. The author is part Indian.

“Born to a wealthy, Westernized secular family of industrialists in Istanbul in 1952, Mr. Pamuk considered being an artist and trained as an architect. But he defied family pressures, quit architecture school and became instead a full-time writer, publishing his first novel, “Cevdet Bey and His Sons,” about three generations of a Turkish family, in 1982.” – New York Times.

This is a second architect turn author which won a literary prize. the other is the author of ‘God of Small Thing’.

Some Related Links:


Leaving a Trace

September 27, 2006



  • On Keeping a Journal

    Leaving a Trace: On Keeping a Journal
    Alexandra Johnson
    Some notes from the reading:
    • “Hoard moments that can be held in the hand and examined later, like found stones.”
    • “Think of a room you’ve known well over three stages in life. How did it, and you, changed over time?”
    • “Break the deadlock of introspective obsession.”
    • How to silence their censor: “That dark, icy whisper of the confidence thief”
    • Unearth interior life
    • find images that reveal significant motivations
    • Investigates essential patterns; disclosing what has been left out of; charting periods of great intensity; connecting the dots between events and influences to develop a true narrative.