During the last session of the Willamette Writers Conference on Sunday, the workshop I was really looking forward to, my pen died. Nothing but dry scratches on the paper. Luckily, I was sitting next to a friend who is also a mom, so she had a pen I could borrow. Moms are more prepared than Boy Scouts.
My despair at losing a favorite, if cheap and totally replaceable, pen was replaced almost immediately by the prospect of buying a new pen. I had bought the recently deceased pen on the recommendation of some productivity site or another, and the commenters had been correct: it was a pen with smooth, fluid ink that did not leave blotches; its line was thick enough to seem weighty but not so thick that it looked like I was writing notes with a dry-erase marker.
But was that enough? Has pen technology advanced in the past few months? I checked in with an office-supplies fiend I know, who pointed out that life is too short to remain slavishly devoted to one kind of pen. I reminded her of Stephen King and the Beryl Black Beauties he wrote of. I admired his work ethic; if I mimicked his devotion to writing implements, would I too adopt a King-like writing schedule that allowed me to complete books and articles at a clip? She stuck to her shiny new pens predilection.
The death of my pen has another aspect to consider: it’s back-to-school season. I am surrounded by cool pens and those ten-for-a-dollar stacks of spiral-bound notebooks every time I leave the house. I work at home, but when I’m in that seasonal aisle, I want a lunchbox. Is it possible to walk into a Target, an Office Depot, a Fred Meyer and only buy more of the exact same pens? That’s a kind of willpower I don’t that I possess, and I don’t know that I want to.
I did like that pen. I may buy more of the same. But I will likely spend half an hour in the school supplies section pondering the possibilities and justifying to myself the purchase of a stack of spiral-bound notebooks. I mean, come on! They’re ten for a dollar!