The first book I ever read about writing was a children’s book called “Girl With A Pen.” It was actually a biography of Charlotte Bronte, written for children aged 10-13. I got it from my school library, and I can still remember the pale lavendar color of the binding, the gilded letters of the title.
My favorite part of the book was the beginning, when the author described Charlotte and her siblings as children creating a fictional world and writing stories to while away the long days and nights on the Yorkshire moors. Charlotte had a small rosewood lap desk she used to write on, and the children made miniature books from whatever scraps of paper they could find, and then stitched them together. They taught themselves to write in the most minute of scripts, since their paper supply was very limited. This minisclule script would completely fill the tiny pages of their handmade books, books they would then squirrel away within the rosewood writing desk.
I used to read this part over and over, simply enchanted by the thought of Charlotte and her miniature notebooks. Of course, I made little notebooks for myself, and wrote lots of “gothic” type stories in imitation of Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights, stories about “black rooms” and “wandering winds.” My grandmother had given me a small cedar keepsake box that I kept them in – my version of the rosewood writing desk.
I think most of us who love to create with words also love the tools we use to create with. As a child, buying notebooks and pens was much more delightful to me than buying candy or toys (really!) In those days, the single aisle of school supplies at the local Woolworth’s was enough to keep me occupied for quite some time. Now, when I walks into a Staples, I’m in heaven!
Of course I love to browse the “fancier” stores like Papyrus and The Paper Merchant, where they have shelves of beautiful leather bound journals and Mont Blanc pens locked in display cases like fine jewelry. Alas, most of my “hand writing” is done with cheap Papermate stick pens ( I like them because they’re skinny, and fat pens hurt my small fingers after a while.) And though I love to look at those beautiful journals, I prefer to write in plain old spiral notebooks or white legal pads – there’s less pressure to write something befitting the elegance of your notebook!
Although I do most of my writing on the computer, because it’s simply so practical, I think there’s much to be said for the tactile sense of holding a pen in your hand and physically forming the words in your own unique handwriting. They are truly yours that way, formed in an way that only you can form them. My son’s elementary school art teacher used to describe the way Brian drew as if a “direct line was flowing from his brain right through his pencil and onto the page.” I’ve had that feeling with writing sometimes, and it’s especially exciting when your hand is connected to a pen, feeding the letters directly onto the paper as if by magic.
One of the most memorable stops on my trip to England a few years ago was touring Haworth parsonage, home of the Bronte family, where I was able to actually see those little notebooks and the rosewood writing desk. It’s amazing how those simple “writing utensils” were so inspiring to me, another girl with a pen.
So, how about you? What are your favorite writing tools? Are there any writer’s tools that have inspired you?