Hanging over the office computer desk where I do the bulk of my writing and all my internet activities is a framed plaque with five pencils displaced within.
First: the typical pencil with well-sharpened point and fully formed eraser. The caption underneath: Model shown comes equipped with executive “Cylindrical Malfunction Adjuster”.
Second: a pencil with well-sharpened points at both ends. The caption underneath: One for those who make no mistakes.
Third: a pencil with a fully formed eraser on both ends. The caption underneath: One for those who make only mistakes.
Fourth: a short pencil with a well-sharpened point and full formed eraser. The caption underneath: One for those who do very little.
Fifth: a short pencil, no well-sharpened point and no fully formed eraser. The caption underneath: And one for those who do absolutely nothing.
When you look at the plaque as a whole you see at the top of the sign is this message to the user:
• Fine or large print (manual control)
• Letters, words or entire phrases can be deleted with a flick of the wrist.
• Polished wooden cabinet
• Unlimited memory capacity depending upon the aptitude of the user.
Before there were computers to hold and contain our every thought and be a willing component in our fiction pursuits, there was the…pencil. Aren’t there days when you “become” one of those five pencils featured above?
The first is your standard pencil: Your typical day is spent amongst your characters. You erase and polish, write and use up your unlimited memory capacity upon that day until a cramp in your hand (and brain) slows the flow until another time. The perfect writing day really.
The second, for those that make no mistakes: We have days like this right? Probably on the days we get our contest results back. How could they possibly think such dirty things about my hard (and perfect) work! I’ve always thought that pencil looked a bit pretentious hanging up there.
The third for those that make only mistakes: Those are usually the days we struggle to write, correct? Many days we just can’t write for the knowledge that this is the worst writing we have ever slapped on paper. And slapped is right. Paint-ball mess. Worthy of the slush-pile writing. That pencil always makes me sad to look at it. I try to not draw inspiration from that one.
The fourth, for those that do very little: On those days when nothing wants to come, the word count is stifled at best and no matter how much we struggle we just can’t force them past gray matter. But you could look at it this way: maybe that pencil is short because you spent a hard day at work…
The Fifth is probably the most powerful, for those that do nothing: If we don’t sit down every day and write we will have nothing. Everyone says they want to write a novel. But you are different; you are sitting down and actually doing it. This pencil should inspire you the most. Because when you look at it you should see all the dreams that died before they ever began. You’ll see all the promises you made to yourself that you never kept.
Maybe it’s time to trade in that stubby piece of nothing for the real edition. Or better yet, go sharpen that stub and just begin.
Because nothing can be completed without first starting.
Which pencil are you?