Archive for the ‘writing’ Category


I like the actual physical act of writing with a pen, if it’s a decent pen. And I keep a journal in addition to blogging. As I’ve been writing with a fountain pen in my journal, I’ve noticed something interesting. I’m observing the right margin again. See, for years I’ve ignored it in the interest of making the book last longer. Ever the good steward, that’s me. Thrifty. Don’t waste paper and all that. But fountain pen writing slows me down, and the look of the page seems to matter more. Why is this?

Margins set off the words like matting sets off the picture in a frame. Is it that the act of writing with actual ink awakens the artist? I wonder.

I’ve been pondering those margins. Too much of my life is running clear to the edge, ignoring the need for margins. Hence life lacks a certain attractiveness and I crave beauty. Too much is crammed onto each line, or into each day, and I feel mentally messy and chaotic and exhausted. Burnout is a lack of white space.

Good steward, did I say? Hmm, maybe of paper. But not so much of myself. Which is more valuable? (That’s a rhetorical question, just to be perfectly clear.) Will I ever finish learning that lesson?

There is something to be said for living full out. I have written many times in my journal that that is my desire, made it my prayer. And yet. I must also create new margins in my life and rediscover the beauty of old ones in order to sustain a full out life.

in The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working, Tony Schwartz has written that we are made to pulse, not to run continuously like machines. Full out, then rest and play. Repeat.

Sounds like margins to me.


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Pen, restored

The antler pen works again.

If you read my last post, you understand.fountain pen made  of antler

After filling a page with sentences to get the hang of it, I was surprised that writing smoothly with it takes applying a certain amount of pressure. It is not effortless like the disposable fountain pens. It requires slowing down and being firm.

The meaning of this as regards the writing process is not lost on me.

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The pen’s the thing

I have three cups of writing instruments on my desk. One contains various colors of Sharpies and washable markers. The other two are crammed full of pens, pencils, and odds and ends like a letter opener I never use, two pair of scissors, a ruler, highlighters, and a White-out pen.

One person does not need all these. It’s ridiculous. About once a year I go through them and throw out the pens that have dried up, but new ones keep appearing. Just this week one came in the mail, a give-away from a Realtor who wants my business. I’m set for life.

A friend gave me a nice pen for Christmas, red with white snowflakes. It looks pretty, it feels good in my hand, and it writes well. So why do I hang onto all the business marketing ones that have found their way to me? Because they work and as long as they do, it feels wasteful to throw them out. You know the “starving children in Africa” line parents give their picky-eater kids? I think of kids somewhere without school supplies. What abundance I have.

Lately I’ve got a little crush on fountain pens. Did you know Pilot makes disposable ones? (Check them out here.) Who knew? They are so nice to write with, smooth and easy and much more expressive. Another friend hunted down a three-pack for me. Then today I dug into the back of my office cabinet where I had stashed a couple of really nice fountain pens Art had. One’s made of wood, the other of antler. I found instructions online and tried my hand at flushing out the nib of one, since it has not been used in more than ten years. With any luck, I’ll be able to pop in an ink cartridge and write with it.

Because keeping the flow going makes the writing smoother and more expressive. And because sometimes flow needs all the help it can get. And because writing with a nice pen gives me pleasure.

But pens are not just smooth or expressive, or pleasurable to use. Sometimes they get people shot or blown up. That’s what happened this week to some people in France. Terrorists didn’t like what some cartoonists drew, so they killed the artists. Horrifying.

Pens are powerful. Thoughts and words and images are powerful. Writers and artists are sometimes heroes acting with profound courage. Others use pens to deceive or destroy. I believe that the flow of truth will always win, eventually.

Keep the flow going.

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