If you could see my desk, you would think that I’m a shopaholic. Well, you might be right, given the three dozen or so pens in the holder. All the same kind, albeit with different colors of ink. These are what Natalie Goldberg calls “fast pens.” They are Pentel Energels, and they fit my hand well, and glide across most kinds of paper. They do not smear, even for lefties like my daughter. They are refillable and recyclable. So why do I have so many? I can’t quite figure that out, except that when they go on sale, I buy them. I keep three or four beside my reading chair and another couple in my tote bag. Just the thought of being without the right pen makes me slightly uneasy. No, I don’t need therapy for this, and meds wouldn’t help.
As my friend Bonnie says, it’s my way of treating myself. In addition to chocolate, I consider pens a great treat. I have a box of other pens that I’ve accumulated over the years and occasionally I dip into that on the rare chance that my fast pens don’t feel quite right on a new journal. All of which suggests that like any other artisan, I want the right tools for my trade. I want a generous supply of ink, paper and folders. I don’t have time to make do and redo. My pens, files, notepads and stickies are at hand, so I have no excuse not to get to work. Before I retired from my day job, a reporter’s notebook and a retractable ballpoint were essentials. Every day meant a new leaf, dated and full of the details I needed to keep my job running smoothly.
If you don’t yet know what your best writing tools are, give them some thought, experiment. A carpenter needs the right hammer and keeps it close by. A surgeon knows which clamps and scalpels work for her. I know that a pen is as essential as a keyboard for me. I do not apologize for being particular. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I packing a notebook and four pens to see me through a weekend in the mountains where there is no wifi. At nine thousand feet it’s just me and my pen.