In Praise of Pencils
I always work with a pencil. Not just any pencil. A 2B pencil, sharpened to the finest point possible, with a one of those rubbers that fit on the top. I go through packets of those – bright purple, grreen, yellow and blue – they’re still easy to lose.
For me, the fixation started in my programming days. It was easier to manually debug code with a pencil and then when I started to write fiction, it was somehow more creative to edit a hard copy with a pencil or to write out pieces in long hand before typing.
Recently #2 son and I cleaned out the stationary boxes. There were two in his room crammed full of pens, pencils, textas, erasers, pencil sharpeners, liquid paper glue and all sorts of novelty stationery stuff. Pens with reindeer, Disney toys, ninja turtles and a crocodile. The goal was to dispose of most of them.
It is incredibly hard to get rid of stationery! One box remains but I think most of the other box made its way into my office.
We were surprised at how many different types of pencils we had and decided to google what sort of gradations of graphite they came in. How soft can a pencil be? How hard?
I discovered I am not alone in my fixation with pencils. Pencils even have their own blog thanks to Studio 502. Lots of interesting stuff there including all sorts of pencils to buy. I particularly like the Pencil Artist of the Week feature.
And just for the record, great things have been achieved in pencil, even outside the art world. John Steinbeck used as many as 60 cedar pencils every day. Roald Dahl used only pencils with yellow casing to write his books. He had 6 sharpened pencils ready at the beginning of each day and only when all 6 pencils became unusable did he resharpen them. Finally, Thomas Edison was so keen on working in pencil, he had his own especially made!