There’s just something about sharpened pencils – lead pencils, colored pencils – it doesn’t matter. There’s just something about sharpened pencils that brings out a craving in me: a craving to write! I’m not alone, of course. It happens to all of us who were born to be writers. In fact, that’s one of the ways you can know for sure that writing is in your genes – in your soul – in your gut.
I suppose paintbrushes do the same thing to the artist, and adding machines the same to accountants. As a matter of fact, I’m going to make it a point to ask my accountant friends if they feel this uncontrollable itching to punch buttons when they see an adding machine sitting there with a pristine roll of paper tape rolling out of the top and just begging to be imprinted with numbers. I’m sure they do.
That’s what happens to me when I look at sharpened pencils. I have this almost insurmountable urge to pick up one – or more – and start moving it across an untouched sheet of paper. At least my preference is untouched, uncontaminated paper, but when such is not available, I have been known to grab a napkin, a piece of cardboard, or the back of a used envelope. But write I must.
Or if I’m sitting and looking at a cup full of freshly sharpened colored pencils mixed in with the lead pencils, as I was today, I run for my sketch pad and begin to draw. Am I an accomplished artist? No. But I can no more keep myself from putting those colored pencils to paper and moving them across it in gliding, soul-satisfying strokes than I can keep myself from reaching into a just-opened box of chocolate candy and taking a piece.
However, whether lead or colored, when the point is no longer sharp, then I must change pencils. That is the other cardinal rule that governs this addiction. Dull pencil points will absolutely not give me the fix that I need.
So what do I write – or draw? Now, honestly, that part really doesn’t matter where this addiction is concerned. The requirement is that I write (or draw) SOMETHING. And therein lies the only real advantage of this craving: by giving into it, I am put in a position of creating something that never before existed – something out of my own being, my own entity – something that relays who and what I am.
When I’m writing – which is what I do most often, of course – the product may turn out to be superfluous words that don’t make any real difference in this world I live in. But more times than not, those words – once they are tweaked, re-arranged, and polished – offer something satisfying, inspiring, entertaining to myself and others who read them.
And truthfully, this addiction doesn’t require wooden pencils to have its effect on me – or on the rest of us who call ourselves writers. A computer keyboard and a blank white document page on the screen in front of us will do exactly the same thing.
But we are not quite as susceptible to the keyboard and screen, because unless we are sitting in front of them already, they don’t pull on us the way that pencil does. We are likely to run into those pencils almost anywhere. And when we see one – that is if it’s nice and clean and sharp – look out world: we just may unleash our greatest masterpiece on you before you know what hit you.