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Every writer is on a quest for the perfect pen.
It doesn’t matter if I use a keyboard for 95% of my writing. I’m still seeking that one instrument that will add magic to my words, that will be a direct conduit to the muse. Anyone who writes has been through this, I think. Even as a child, I was particular. My crayons had to have some kind of point. I mean, we all know that AMAZING feeling when you open a brand-new box of crayons, right? It’s like a world of perfect, pristine rainbows with endless possibilities. (If only we could view every day that way – except it’s a little over-the-top bedazzled unicorn-y.)
Graduating to pencils, I was still particular. #2 Eberhard Fabers or Ticonderogas were the standard. Remember how we always had to fill in the little circles (completely) on our standardized tests using a #2 pencil? The computerized reader would be unable to read a #1 or #3. I hated #3 pencils. Far too light. As if you weren’t committed to your words. I loved #1 pencils – dark, firm, strong, but we could almost never find them in the stores, and when we did, well, they weren’t the requisite #2′s, so we didn’t buy them. And I was enchanted by those pens that had about a dozen little points that you could push through from top-to-bottom – but they were expensive, and so not in the family budget. I was truly envious of the girls in fourth grade who had them.
Pens are generally kept far away from children. I could be the poster child for why this is the case. At the tender age of about 3, I accessed one of my Dad’s ubiquitous Flair Pens – a red one – and wrote my numbers, 1 through 10, on the pale green living room wall right above the couch early one morning before anyone else was up. I did my three backwards but I was so proud. I went to wake up my Mom to show her. She was great – she could see how thrilled I was to have achieved this accomplishment. I vaguely remember her shock, and some very slight praise. I do not remember being scolded or punished, though knowing my Mom, I’m sure she explained the error of my ways to me. After that, the pens then were eternally out of reach. I guess everyone learned a lesson that morning. And the numbers stayed there on the wall for perhaps seven years, until the living room was repainted.
Back in the 1960s, pens were experiencing an evolution. They were moving from the fountain pen era to the ball point pen era, with Flair pens being the latest and greatest. Of course, now we have gel pens, rollerballs, stick pens, click pens. And that’s where the writer’s dilemma occurs. What is the pen for my hand, and mine alone?
I’ve found some that I like. Unfortunately, the ones that I like the most have been displaying a tendency to leak. While having ink stains on my fingers makes me feel more like a writer, I don’t like it. They take forever to come off and having ink leakages in purses and backpacks is a true pain. They’ve certainly given my backpack some character, but if I get caught in a rainstorm, I find that the ink stains get wet and leap onto my hips where my backpack rests, like a shipwreck victim straining for dry land.
Pens seem to have a mind of their own, which means that have the ability to independently decide where they want to go – which means they mysteriously vanish. When I was gainfully employed, I would buy nice pens for myself for work. If they made it home, I know that Pat was the vehicle for their disappearance, even though he rarely wrote anything down.
I was the proud owner of a Mont Blanc pen for a short while. It was a gift, and I’d had it about a month, when my boss asked me about it, because she had lost an identical Mont Blanc pen. She didn’t come out and say it, but she clearly thought I had stolen hers. And sure enough, it vanished about a week later. Ah, well. It was a lovely pen, but a little fat for my fingers.
I am still searching for the perfect pen for me. Since pens continue to evolve, when I find one I like, I have to buy in bulk because it will morph into something different sooner rather than later. I have five pen pots in the house, and they get emptier and emptier daily (I was noticing this yesterday) as the pens emigrate to who-knows-where.
And I will continue my quest, which may take me from quill pen to astronaut pen, until I find the one, the one that is so connected to me that the ink is just my own cerebral fluid flowing from the nib.
(And FYI, this last photo is one of my favorite pictures I’ve ever taken.)