Today I have this insatiable urge to commit pencil to paper. Not pen, not a keyboard, pencil. I have railed for years against the use of pencil because it smudges, it’s too hard to read and on and on. Yet lately, pencil to paper soothes my soul.
Some days, I am content with a pen. Perhaps those are the days when I know I’m writing something worth keeping for sure. Some days, I can sit down at the keyboard and the words flow from my fingers. Usually when I’m drawn to the keyboard I have an idea in mind, a rant I want to relieve myself of, or character or scene just itching to be revealed. It seems pencil is my tool of choice when I know I need to write but don’t have a particular topic in mind. Perhaps pencil is my warm up? Maybe pencil is the road that winds and the keyboard is the direct route? I don’t know.
I’ve tried many kinds of pencils. The six-sided Ticondarogas are good and I like the round Mirado’s from Papermate. Some days I like the thicker diameter pencils the once designed for beginning writers. In general I’m not a fan of mechanical pencils. I prefer the kind that must be sharpened even as I bemoan the shavings and lead dust. There’s something about being able to sharpen things that is almost meditative, ritualistic even. Write, convey thought. Stop, refocus, sharpen, continue. Some days I’ll line up six or seven sharp pencils and go to town writing until the led is barely visible, moving on to the next waiting pencil until I am forced to stop and sharpen at least one. If it’s a good day and I get on a roll, I won’t want to take the time to sharpen multiple pencils so I’ll just keep sharpening the same one over and over. I do have an electric sharpener on my desk but typically I shun it. The grinding sound is too disruptive. And, it doesn’t accommodate the thicker pencils. I have several handheld sharpeners that I employ on a much more regular basis. They are more portable and the sound is much less jarring. Also my handheld sharpeners accommodate both sizes of pencils I like to use. I would love to have one of those old-fashioned crank pencil sharpener’s, the type most commonly found in a classroom, but I don’t really have a place to install one.
The other key to successfully writing in pencil is having a high quality eraser nearby (see photo). It’s been my experience that the cuter the eraser or the pencil, the less functional it is. You would think that the eraser that comes on the end of a pencil would be effective at you know, ERASING the pencil. But my example above demonstrates that this is not necessarily so. I like to have a good old-fashioned soft pink eraser nearby.
Today was one of those days when I knew I needed to write but I didn’t know what I needed to write and I didn’t know what I was writing for. I didn’t start out writing a blog post for Live to Write Write to Live, but that’s what this has turned into.
Do you ever get the urge to write in pencil? Do you have a favorite brand or type?
I transcribed my handwritten words using Dragon Naturally Speaking for the Macintosh and headset. I’m kind of happy with the results if I do say so myself.
Lee Laughlin is a writer, wife, and mom, frequently all of those things at once. She blogs at Livefearlesslee.com. She is currently a member of the Concord Monitor Board of Contributors. Her words have also appeared in a broad range of publications from community newspapers to the Boston Globe. She is a member of the New Hampshire Chapter of Romance Writers of America and is currently at work on her first novel.