The Ticonderoga Tango: Ode to My Writing Tools

I LOVE lined notepaper. It’s made for words. It welcomes ideas like a newly swept and polished dance floor awaits dancing feet.

Blank paper is for planning, brainstorming, and sketching.

Purpose meets desire?

The humble, lined page is sanctuary for whimsy, heartache, and drama. Today an ode, tomorrow a call to action or an appeal to the heart. The choreography of words follow a considered tone and rhythm. This ain’t no freestyle disco!

Wallflower dance partners: a yellow Ticonderoga pencil and a ballpoint pen.

So how do I choose who to dance with? Humidity and writing surface.

A common ballpoint is better for the dance on high-humidity days, or on a pad of paper. A little more force creates bold swooshes and swirls, and the paper feels more willing to be led.

A pen can waltz for hours into pages and novellas without sharpening.

I won’t fawn over the silky, unbroken line of the gel pen. It’s the mesmerizing sequined dress that lends the appearance of skill. But it belies the effort to create. Of course, I use it, but a low-brow ballpoint or simple #2 keeps me honest.

A tool or technique can also inspire. The act of handwriting lubricates my writing nerves and sparks the desire for more messages to make the journey. Like learning dance steps, practicing the mechanics of writing—picking up the pencil, nestling it in the webbing of my hand, setting the tip to the white surface on an encouraging line—makes wordsmithing more familiar.

The tactile writing process offers me the opportunity to reexamine experience, reframe, apply perspective. Otherwise, I am likely to lose its why and my poor memory would release it faster than a soggy tissue.

Pencil and paper give me a way to preserve and make meaning. I am unmoored without them.


Photo by Guillermoluis21 ………………… on flickr.

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