Friday, April 5, 2013

Pens and Pencils

There are several items that disappear quickly in our house: pens, pencils, paper and pickles. The only ones we actually eat are the pickles, but I do wonder about the pencils sometimes.

There was a time when I couldn't hang onto even a single pencil for anything. They would regularly disappear from the mug where I keep my writing implements, but I could never make anybody admit to taking them. I could stand in the middle of the house and howl, Charlie Brown-fashion, "Isn't there anyone who knows where my pencils have gone?" but nobody ever seemed to know. Since then matters have improved somewhat. The pencils return to the mug, albeit almost unrecognizable—half the length they were, with the erasers completely used up. If anyone could invent a pencil that had as much eraser in it as it did lead, they'd probably make a fortune, because it seems an incontrovertible fact that the eraser end of a pencil gets as much use, if not more, than the tip.

Fortunately, I do the large majority of my writing with a pen. My instrument of choice for fiction-writing is my trusty Zebra F-402. I own several of these—one of them is usually clipped on the rings of the notebook containing my current project, another on the notebook containing a project-in-waiting for which I scribble notes whenever an idea strikes me, and a couple more reside in the mug, to be snatched whenever I happen to pick up a notebook that doesn't have a pen clipped on the rings. For other pursuits, such as journaling, writing out cards, keeping records, etc., I use a Pilot G2. The split between fiction-writing and all other kinds of writing even extends to my handwriting—I keep a journal in cursive, but print when I write stories. It's faster, and for whatever reason I just like it better. My cursive handwriting is not my strong point, anyway. I think all my old journals contain at least one entry where I declared that part of my purpose in keeping a journal was to improve my handwriting, but it doesn't seem to have worked—it's still the same childish-looking, grade-school-copybook scrawl I wrote at age twelve, as I am painfully reminded every time I have to sign a book for someone. My mother, on the other hand, has the most beautiful handwriting I've ever seen, and my brother and middle sister are following in her footsteps. These days, whenever there's a joint gift to inscribe or a joint thank-you card to make out, I'm eager to nominate one of them for the job, for the simple reason that they do it so much better.

We've always been a family that wields writing and drawing materials constantly—when we were little it was crayons, and now pens, pencils and markers, depending on the situation. Besides writing (which everybody seems to be doing these days), there's always a lot of drawing going on. This is not one of my skills, though. I can sketch some passably pretty flowers and trees and such, but I've never been able to draw people—even when I painstakingly copy from another picture the proportions don't turn out quite right. I just don't have the natural eye for color and composition that others in my family do. All three of my younger siblings, though, are extremely artistic and can draw terrific portraits. Their idea of a good time is to spread out art supplies over half a room and spend a couple of hours simply drawing and coloring, in their favorite mediums of charcoal and colored pencils. The enclosed pencil-sharpener hasn't been invented that can hold the pencil shavings we turn out, so an inevitable adjunct to these art sessions is a brown paper bag full of said shavings...which every now and then takes a spill on the rug, or occasionally on somebody's closet shelf.

Just another day in a scribbling family.

1 comment:

Melissa Marsh said...

I love this post for so many reasons - it shows the artistic nature of your family, and it also shows just how close your family is. You won't find many families sitting around sketching together or reading or writing together.

I used to write with a blue pen - always blue, never black - but the only writing I do with a pen now is in my journal and when I'm making notes for my stories. Otherwise, I have to compose on the computer.