I am particular about my writing implements.
Oh, I can grab any old pen to write a quick note or a list. We, like most everyone, have lots of pens and pencils scattered around the cottage. Some pens are missing their caps, lots of pencils need sharpening, some end up having no ink left in the barrel – the usual hodgepodge.
But when it comes to serious stuff, like writing a letter or a thank you note, or taking notes when I’m coaching, I like a certain pen. If I can’t use that pen, everything seems a little off. (FYI: it’s the Uniball Signo.)
As for pencils, we have a love/hate relationship. I tend to have a light touch when I use a pencil and I’ve never found a pencil that writes the way I want it to. Most of the time, even with a No. 2 pencil, the stroke on the page is too light. When I do my analysis work on a text, especially Shakespeare, I write lots and lots of notes on the page – in pencil. And I’m always frustrated by the end result. I also end up doing the NY Times Crossword puzzle in pen because I don’t like using a pencil. But heaven knows, it would be a lot easier using a pencil!
About a week or so ago, I was reading one of my favorite blogs – Head Butler – and that particular post was about an amazing pencil, the Palamino Blackwing Pencil. (Here’s the link to the post.) The Blackwing, first made by Eberhard Faber in 1930, has a “graphite core, fortified with a little wax” and is, to some, the finest pencil ever made. Composers use it for scoring: Leonard Bernstein, Stephen Sondheim, Aaron Copland. Artists use it. John Steinbeck wrote with it, as did Truman Capote. They were expensive to make but they had a devoted, almost fanatical following. They still do. You don’t have to push to write with it. (Something I always seem to have to do with a pencil.)
So, the day before yesterday, we were in our local used bookstore. I was looking for books by Robertson Davies, which you know all about if you read Just Let Me Finish This Page, and I found one. On my way to the checkout, I saw a display of writing implements. Among them: the Blackwing. I called Don over, told him all about them, and we ended up buying two.
They were $2.50 each, which sounds expensive for a pencil, but I have to tell you, they are worth every penny. Suddenly, I love writing with a pencil. I love this pencil. I’m looking forward to making all the notations I need to make in a script. These pencils even have replacement erasers, as well as a pencil sharpener (that I have yet to buy) the sharpens the pencil in two stages: one hole sharpens the wood, the other sharpens the the graphite. Since I have never been happy with any pencil sharpener I have ever owned, I think I’m going to be adding the sharpener to my arsenal of writing tools.
Oh gosh, I’m all about saving money and I am on a strict budget, but the amount of pencils I go through when I’m working on a show is ridiculous and, quite frankly, a waste of money. So why not get something that really works? I know you can find them on Amazon and you can visit Palamino’s website, if you’re interested in learning more about them. (I’m simply passing along some information on a great pencil. I’m not getting compensated.)
Is it silly to get this excited about a pencil? Not to this girl who has to use a pencil quite frequently and who also loves doing crossword puzzles. I say, ‘Yippee!’
I think everyone has their favorite pen and/or pencil – it’s a very personal thing. And I know people jealously guard their favorite pens. I remember the days when I was working in an office and I would mark my pens so no one would ‘steal’ them. If I see Don commandeering one of my pens, I swoop in there and grab it.
Do you have a favorite pen or pencil? I’m fascinated by this kind of thing, so do share.
By the way, a new post is up at Just Let Me Finish This Page.