Being the first in an occasional series of musings upon the tools of a writer’s trade, both physical and intellectual. Other writers and interested parties, please feel free to tell me your thoughts on any of these posts …
Some writers collect pens. They have special pens for special projects, or find they can only write when they have the correct pen in their hand.
I, however, lose pens. Given what important tools they are, even in the age of electronic media, I feel I should treasure or at least respect the pens I use to scribble those early notes, story ideas and snatches of dialogue that may one day see print but annoyingly, intent does not match reality, and the little buggers keep disappearing to gawd-knows-where*. Perhaps if I wrote longhand I’d learn to take more care of them.
As it is, I try to herd and conserve pens by secreting them in pockets and bags in a futile attempt to make sure that if an idea arrives and needs to be written down, I’m in a position to oblige. Sometimes this works, although Beloved is used to me coming out with comments like ‘I haven’t got a pen, when we get home can you remind me that X needs to visit Y in order to find out Z?’ and on at least one occasion away from home alone I’ve been reduced to jotting down shorthand notes in eyeliner.
Given their fleeting presence in my life you might expect me not to be fussy about the pens I use. But, damnit, I am. Even eyeliner is, in some ways, preferable to a blue bic, because it’s black. Not blue, or red, or green. Black. I have no idea why I seek out black pens, but I do. Ideally I like to write with gel pens, a preference which has some logic behind it given my handwriting is so bad you could take it to a pharmacist and have it made up as a prescription, so anything which eases the track of the squiggle across page has to be good. Besides, I’ve found that I’m slightly less likely to break gel pens and get covered in ink.
And so, for Xmas, I will be buying myself a box of 12 black gel pens of the cheap but serviceable brand I’ve come to rely on. I do not expect to know where any of them are by this time next year.
*quite possibly to the same planet as teaspoons, as the late great Douglas Adams suggested.