Wednesday, July 27, 2022

Tools of a Writer

 This Way Back Wednesday post really goes waaayy back. It's from 2009, but my love of all things paper goes back even further. I was dismayed to realize that I'd neglected to pack my Beach Pages journal for my beach vacation but there are definitely enough other notebooks along for the ride, so I'm sure one can "step in." 

I love stationery. Paper products, funky pens, pencils with a just-right point. Some might file this under "O"(occupational hazard) for a writer, but I can trace my obsession with all things paper back to my childhood. 

When I was a kid, there was a stationery store many blocks from my home where you could buy paper by the pound. I thought that was the coolest thing, although what I would do with a pound of paper at the ripe-old age of eight, I have no idea. Still, on the occasions when my mother and I would take the long walk to that part of town, I loved just going into the store. 

As an adult, I still harbor the same affection for paper and writing implements. In fact (not surprisingly), I have developed predilections for particular items. Though I'm typing this blog now, it was originally hand-written on a small tablet, spiral-bound at the top, which I keep in my car for list-making and times when I need paper that is safely held together and won't scatter to the wind, the floor or the back seat. 

At the [elementary] school where I [used to] work, we have tablets made of lined newsprint. They were my go-to source when I needed to make lists, brainstorm ideas or simply get my thoughts out of my head and onto the page. The right pen (preferably with black, red or purple ink) glides across the page, allowing me to write quickly and effortlessly, if not neatly. 

The combination of the right pen and the right paper allows me to spill my thoughts onto the page, lest they, too, run the risk of scattering like those loose pages before I can get them down. Not every writing implement is amenable to -- or suited for -- my beloved newsprint tablets. The mechanical pencils (.7mm lead, never .5mm) on which I depend for my nightly Sudokus are ill-equipped for both the task, and the finish of the paper. Unlike my favorite pen (Pentech, for those of you who are as obsessed as I am, and/or making lists of things I'd like for Christmas) the pencil digs into the paper, hampering the flow of my writing and therefore my ideas. The resulting product is too light to read upon later inspection, and quickly becomes faded, jeopardizing the future usefulness of the words on the page. 

A few weeks ago, when I went into the supply closet to replenish my supply of newsprint tablets, I couldn't find any. Sure they were gone for good, I began rationing the paper I had, using it only when it was perfect for the task at hand lest I waste even one page on something as frivolous as a phone message. It was only when I mentioned my paper obsession to a colleague that she assured me there were more tablets in the closet. I only needed to look up above the shelves to find newsprint nirvana. 

Needless to say, I stocked up. 

Turns out, however, that my colleague has a paper obsession of her own. While any paper will do most of the time, when it comes to her sketches, she has her own particular preferences. 

Perhaps the creative brain simply wants what it wants, and anything that frees the process in any way is a tool worth having, whether it's a computer keyboard, a spiral-bound notebook or my own beloved newsprint tablet. Meanwhile, I'll continue to haunt the stationery aisles of my favorite stores, just in case we really do run out. 

A girl has to be prepared.

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