One of my favorite things to do at my job is to shop for office supplies. As the marketing and operations director of a small office, I would rather not get office supplies delivered regularly — for me, it’s therapeutic to go out, take my time at Office Depot or Staples, and find the right things to buy. And, of course, my visits always take me through the pencil aisle.
Unfortunately, that aisle seems to get smaller and smaller each year. At least, the ratio of mechanical pencils to woodcased pencils become more extensive — in the mechanical’s favor.
Maybe that’s why I felt an urgency to get a pencil blog up and going again. Although collectors and aficionados of wooden pencils are a tight-knit and loyal group, the average user of pencils prefers mechanical. Why? Well, it’s easier. You never need to sharpen it, and the lead retracts, never leaving graphite on your shirt pocket.
But I feel I can speak for most pencil users when I say that it’s more than convenience. The act of writing itself can be a cathartic, metaphysical experience. Why shouldn’t your writing instrument be that as well?
Wooden pencils are made, more or less, out of natural, elemental ingredients. The barrel? Wood. The core? Clay and metal. The eraser? Rubber from a tree (well, in the old days, that is).
When a wooden pencil lays down a mark, it leaves behind a piece of itself. You can’t refill it like a mechanical, no — its permanently gone. But sadly, the mark itself isn’t permanent. That can be erased easily on a whim. Such is the tragedy of the woodcased pencil. Often, as human, we are that pencil — we spend time, energy, and invest ourselves in things that can be undone in a matter of seconds. And we never get that that piece of ourselves back.
I love most everything that has to do with the process of writing. Not just pencils, but paper, pens, typewriters, erasers, computers, word processors. Typewriters, especially, because they’re an anachronism — a relic of what “high tech” used to mean. Maybe I love wooden pencils because they seem to be disappearing.
I don’t think writing with graphite will go away, at least not in the forseeable future. People will need to scribble erasable notes longhand for a few more years, and erasable pens just aren’t, well, good at marking or erasing. I think our mechanical pencil overlords will thrive. But hopefully, our little wooden friends will stick around a bit longer.
Don’t get me wrong; I use a mechanical pencil every once in a while. In fact, I have plans to feature my favorite, a Zebra #2 (that looks like a wooden pencil, actually) right here on this very blog.
But I think my love will always lay with the little wooden pencil. For some reason, I always have more to write about, and I feel like there’s always so much more to learn. Brands come and go, companies get bought and sold, and with each little variation in pencil production, new discussion is sparked and the pencil blogosphere has something new to chatter about. We just hope that we don’t run out of products and variations to discover!
So join me, friends, and let’s get the little wooden underdog back on top of the writing world!