An Ode to the Pencil

An Ode to Writing Supplies with a special nod to the Pencil

Oh, dear pencils, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

Found in drawers, backpacks, and desks, the pencil, one could argue, is one of our most-used writing tools. Modest in form but mighty in function my pencils are used to brainstorm, record, sketch, draft, create, and communicate. Many people comment on my variety of pencils as my interactions with this tool are purely physical because I have the freedom to choose the perfect fit, color, shape, size. With all, it has going for it – as, after all, it’s erasable. And, the graphite? Well, I’m partial to smooth cake-like graphite where more clay has been added to create a softer, more fluid line. My pencil needs to move on paper, not tear it up!

When selecting the perfect pencil, I am drawn to Caroline Weaver’s brick-and-mortar store, CW Pencil Enterprise; CW Pencil Enterprise.

I marvel at all of the pencil choices her store has available and am always drawn to the vintage boxes in an array of colors, the variety of graphite, and the array of flexible and pliable pink erasers located at the top of a pencil or purchased separately. This website is a dream come true for me as the many variations of pencils that are sold result in a huge modern selection for everyone. 

In a time when our lives are so tightly woven around technology, I find myself yearning to go back to all things analog, as simply writing by hand with a quality pencil. Nothing compares to the smooth flow of my black wing palominos or that bright yellow perfectly crafted No. 2 that evokes memories of elementary school and writing by hand. I often reflect on the importance of the pencil as it relates to my creativity, literacy, and innovation as I write children’s books. Ultimately, it is both a tool and a perfect metaphor – at one end you have the creation of anything and at the exact opposite end, you have the negative of that creation with the ability to erase and re-create with one swift movement of the hand. It’s like the alpha and the omega of this little yellow, black, brown, or blue stick.

Two books that caught my eye are The Pencil: A History of Design and Circumstance and  The Pencil Perfect: The Untold Story of a Cultural Icon. Both books are chock-a-block full of the pencil’s evolving history over hundreds of years, the complexity of the pencil manufacturing process, and how a simple block of wood, usually red cedar, begins this entire process of a writer’s creative vision.


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