Write on Wednesday-Girl With A Pen

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?


9 thoughts on “Write on Wednesday-Girl With A Pen

  1. While I can’t say I preferred notebooks or pens to candy as a child, books have always soothed and excited me like nothing else. And I love those beautiful journals too. I saw a beautiful leather journal cover last week and actually sighed in the middle of a bookstore. The cost was more than I can justify, so it’s consigned to “someday”. Writing longhand gives me a different writing experience than typing – a different connection to the creative spirit. And, oh, the Bronte sisters…there’s romance and intrigue even in holding one of their books.

  2. I enjoyed reading about how you got started but how cool is it that you got to see the desk & notebooks! I retired from “Office Depot.” LOL

  3. Attempt #2. Blogger at my last try. And you know how after you’ve typed in a mini-book and it gets eaten, you don’t really say much the second time around? 😉

    I liked all the info you shared about the little homemade books and the lap desk. I’m sure having seen it in person it made an even deeper impression on you.

    I’m a mechanical pencil on white legal pad or inexpensive journal kind of gal. Moleskin–too scary, way too much expectation with the leather cover. But I’ve started SARK’s “Making Your Creative Dreams Real” and have been writing in colored markers on plain typing paper and using colored pencils to write and doodle in the book (gasp!). Perhaps I’ll weasel out of this straightjacket yet! 😀

  4. I was also a fan of “Girl with a Pen.” And I have a Waterman pen that I write with, bought seven years ago in Paris (when I was living in London). But I don’t like writing anything other than quick notes in Moleskin reporter’s notebooks (and thank you notes to friends). Most of my writing is on the computer.But I covet beautiful journals and was thrilled to bits yesterday when a little nine-year-old girl gave me a gorgeous silk-bound notebook. And the Bronte sisters and those books – pure bliss. Took me right out of my small hometown into worlds of imagination.

  5. My Mother died on New Years Eve 1991( aged 58)..she had kept a daily diary since she was 14!..my father always bought her a new diary for Christmas..on 1st Jan 1992 I wrote in the first page of the diary she never started..and I have written in it every day since!!

  6. Deirdre, I totally agree, books are both soothing and exciting – strange dichotomy, isn’t it?

    Tammy, if you can retire from Office Depot, you’re a better gal than I!

    Star, hooray for you, using colored pencils and markers! I’ve been wanting to do that for the longest time…you’re inspiring me againg 🙂

    Tara, I’m amazed someone else remembers “Girl With A Pen.” I actually went on line a few years ago and found a used copy at Amazon. When it came, it was an old school library edition – but sadly, not the same one we had at our library.

    Niall, how marvelous that you’re still using that last journal of your mom’s. What a special gift that notebook is!

  7. Wonderful memories … reminded me of my childhood fascination with biographies and trips to the library where I would scan the shelves for another gem (wish I had found the Bronte biography!)
    Most of my writing takes place on the computer 🙂 JP

  8. I was unfamiliar with “Girl With a Pen” so thank you for sharing a bit of it 🙂 And how cool that you were able to visit the Bronte home!

    I have journals of all sorts but my favorite for travel are the moleskin blank page journals. Their pages are sturdy enough to hold the variety of ephemera and pressed flowers (etc) that I cram into them.

    I love pens. I was fortunate to be surprised a very special Christmas present from my husband this year–a Mont Blanc. For now, however, I just use it at home as I don’t want to chance loosing it…and it does write smoothly as butter would…if you could write with butter, that i 🙂

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