Saturday, March 26, 2016

365 True Things: 363/Pens (and Pencils)

I know I am not alone in having a serious addiction to writing instruments. I keep pens (and pencils) in retired coffee mugs, all over the house: two in the kitchen (one is for fat pens: markers and suchlike, plus scissors), one here on my computer desk, one in the "bill-paying room," and three in my writing studio (pens, fat pens, and colored pens).

I also have a couple, few boxes of colored pencils: one of them I have had for fifty years—I bought it in Japan when we lived there. It has a picture of the Leaning Tower of Pisa on the front, and inside are thirty-five pencils of various lengths. One is missing; the shortest is orange.

So did I really need to buy more pens and pencils today?

Why, yes. Yes I did.

As I wrap up this daily blog challenge, I'm considering what—if anything—to do next. As I explained at the outset, having a daily practice benefits me: it gives me a focus for the day; it helps me practice some skills; it encourages me to notice what's going on around me a little better; and it makes me happy.

And what I've hit on for the next maybe-month, maybe-two, maybe-(whoknows)-twelve, is to draw and write on an index card every day: something about my day. Cartoons, or just words, or doodles maybe. Yes, doodles! (Milo approves.)

I am inspired in this partly by the book Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor by Lynda Barry; and by a book she recommends, Cartooning: Philosophy and Practice by Ivan Brunetti; and by my howler buddies, Sherilyn and Kim, who are also experimenting with a cartooning-plus-writing practice. (Just the other day, in fact, Sherilyn wrote about Syllabus. See?)

And so today, I had to buy some index cards. And while I was at Office Depot, well, sure: I had to scan the pen selection. And oy! There was so much! So many colors, so many line weights, so many tip styles. I feel pretty happy to have made it out of there with only two packs of pens: one of ten colors, porous points, 0.3 mm thickness (yes! I love very fine lines), by Staedtler (I also love German writing instruments); the other of fourteen colors, gel pens, 0.7 mm, PaperMate. I also bought a collection of drafting pencils, ranging from 6B to 4H in hardness.

Do I draw? No.

Not yet.

And I am definitely the sort to put the cart before the horse: Not be-do-have, but have-do-be. That is, I have the tools to be all sorts of things, but if I don't bother to do, then I'm left just having the tools, which sit around and gather dust.

That said, this will be a practice, a discipline. Just as this blog has been.

There have definitely been some days during the past 363 when I sat down to write and didn't have a clue what I'd say. I cast about. I searched through photos. I considered my life. And eventually something would present itself. And I'd write.

I anticipate something similar with this index-card challenge. With, perhaps, a bit more discomfort at the start, because
. . . I don't draw. But I can practice my way into drawing. Right? (And it will be perfectly okay to have some days when all I do is put words on my card. In multiple colors, no doubt.)

I also intend to make a box into which all these cheerfully decorated index cards will vanish.

That's one thing that will make this 365 (if such it becomes) different from the previous five. The previous five, I've published. I've had followers—not many, granted, but a few diehard friends, supporters, good souls. This next one I will not publish. It will simply be my discipline, my practice. Fifteen or thirty minutes of focus, contemplation, and appreciation. That's it.

It sounds good. I'm ready.


  1. Happy to know I'm not the only one buying pens and pencils I don't need. This next project sounds awesome. I don't draw either and I'm always so jealous of the beautiful writing/drawing journals I've come across--doodles and words. It has never occurred to me to just draw--and see what happens.

  2. drawing is so much fun. you'll love it. you actually don't have to think or do anything. basically you just hold onto the pencil and let it go...... box of cards will be fun to shuffle through!