Saturday, August 2, 2014

The Pencil Challenge

To Use or Not To Use

Love em, or hate em, the pencil is a tool that has been around much longer than the pen.  On a rare occasion do I use a pencil in my day to day writing.  The other night though I found myself writing at 3:30 in the morning and with a pencil in hand.  I know when I started writing I was not fully awake and was actually just trying to get thoughts out of my head to go back to sleep when I became aware of the pencil in my hand.

It was your "everyday" yellow Dixon Ticonderoga 2 1/2 F wooden pencil.  I sat at the dining room tabel and stared at the writing on the paper.  Why was it so light, I thought to myself?  This got me wondering and waking up.  Do I even own a pencil that will lay a dark line?  I walked upstairs to the spare bedroom in which I've taken over as a home office.  Serching through my box of pens I found a mechanical pencil I've had for nearly 12 years.  Acquired from work when I was a paid engineer I remember coveting this pencil because of its uniqueness.  It is an average Pentel P205 mechanical pencil.  What makes it special is the color.  Pentel pencils are colored based on the thickness of lead they use.  Yellow for 0.9mm, blue for 0.7mm and black for 0.5mm but, this 0.5mm pencil was green.  Because of this distinction I would not let the pencil slip my grasp.

Removing the pencil from the box I gave it a little shake next to my ear and low and behold I could hear the clicking sound of pieces of lead within.  A few clicks of the end later and I was set to write.  I sat down at my desk and realized that I must have a 2B lead loaded in the pencil.  I continued to write.
I woke up later that morning and while gathering my "stuff" for work I remembered the pencil.  I loaded it in my bag before heading out the door.  I kept thinking to myself why don't i ever use pencils anymore.  The thought remained in my head all day until I had a chance to get into the garage and leaf through old journals and notebooks.  I then realized why...pencil lead smears quite easily.  Maybe it is the lead I use but, all my notebooks reveal the same problem.  Later notebooks, in which ink is used do not have this problem.

So what is it that separates the pen user from the pencil user?  I seriously think there's a distinction and that most people have a preference.  A collegue of mine rarely uses a pen, writing all his notes in pencil,  yellow Pentel 0.9mm to be specific.  He prefers the thickness of the lines and prefers to be able to erase mistakes when writing.  I also have a co-worker who writes with the standard No.2 yellow wooden pencil from Officemax.  I watch him get up at least 4-5 times a day to sharpen the point up.  He too enjoys the ability to erase mistakes or changes to what he writes.

This led me to want to experiment with the pencil.  For the next two weeks I will replace my standard pen with the pencil.  I am going to see if there is any spark left within in which to light the flame that once burned within me for the pencil...I won't give up my pens, I rely on them for my Chronodex among other things.  I want to see what it is about pencils that appeal to so many people.  This should be interesting...

...To Be Continued...

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