Friday, November 02, 2007

Why Pens? Why blog about pens?

It's been a while since I've blogged, and it's especially been a while since I blogged about pens. Since I started this blog I've done the following:
1. Met my now-husband
2. Moved in with my now-husband
3. Got married
4. Am in the process of buying a house

While I have been able to keep up a modicum of journaling, and have managed to go through about 5 or 6 notebooks, I haven't had a chance to keep writing about my love affair with pens and notebooks.

We are going to be moving up to the mountains (the Lake Arrowhead area) in a few weeks, and I think that my life will be a lot calmer without all the stress of LA just outside my door. So I am hoping to be able to write about pens and notebooks more often.

To that end, I thought I would paste in a Post to the Host that I sent to Garrison Keillor, of Prairie Home Companion fame, about my pen fetish. And his response. I think it very eloquently sums up why people like me (and him, evidently!) like pens, why they are good, why the world is a better place with them, and why we'd all be happier if we'd leave the keyboard and write out a page or two in longhand once a day.


Dear Garrison:

I suffer from a blank notebook/book/pen fetish. All over my apartment there are books and notebooks strewn about and I can't walk out of The Strand without dropping at least $50. This is bad for several reasons. I move around a lot. When I moved to London I could only take three suitcases, two of which were crammed with books and journals and a shoebox of pens. Having such a large percentage of my luggage taken up with books/stationary made it difficult once winter came and I needed sweaters. And I simply lack the space to store all this stuff. I'm 27—I'm moving to New Zealand soon. So what do I do? Should I sell all my books on ebay and pay back my student loans and then buy more when I have a house and room for a library? Or do I keep collecting them and just deal with the fact that I'm never going to be the kind of girl who can fit her life in a backpack?

Heather A. Buettner
New York, NY


I'm happy to meet someone at last who shares my secret predilections. What you describe is all very familiar to me. If I see a stationery store, my heart jumps, and when I go in and see a whole counter of pens, I am helpless to resist. I buy about a dozen, or two. I love Pilot pens and the Sanford Uni-Ball and have tried various German and Japanese things, though I consider the Mont Blanc to be an obscene rip-off.

I also buy books, steadily, more than I can read, and when I stroll into a bookstore, particularly one of those independent ones that's run by people who share my tastes, it's hard to get out with less than a shopping bag full. And now that I'm rediscovering the pleasures of writing in longhand, I'm stocking up on legal pads, and various other paper supplies ... hmmm, graph paper, maybe this could give me a stronger sense of structure.

What to do? Well, don't strain your back, my dear. A person can handle only so much luggage. If you love to buy books, then you should also learn to love to give away books. But if you are actually using the pens to write on the paper, then buying them isn't a fetish. It's simply the sensible pleasure of writing, including the sensuous feel of a lovely pen in the hand and the point against the paper. A person can take a lifetime of pleasure in this. You pick up a sheet of handsome paper and your favorite pen and pick up a book to use for a writing desk and hold it on your knees and proceed to improve the page with a few paragraphs and thus you leave your mark. A noble enterprise, nothing to be sheepish about.

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