12 February 2010

The Mechanics of Writing

In the course of creating literary mashups for my new website, I've come across a hidden sub-culture of writing implement enthusiasts - from luxury fountain pens to the humble wooden pencil. And they are fans of every aspect of these apparently simple objects - the shape, weight, length, and 'balance' of the pen; the sharpening quality of the pencil's wood, the durability of its lead, and even the elegance of its cap and rubber - sorry! eraser.

Mont Blanc - the Franz Kafka special edition

The pen collectors seemto be mainly interested in: purity of product. Preferably, the pen should not have had any contact with ink or paper, and ideally still be sealed in its presentation box, along with papers of authentication.

The pencil buffs on the other hand want to see evidence of graphite on paper - preferably a selection of different types (plain, smooth, ruled, white, tinted) and they go in for extreme close-up shots of a well-sharpened pencil tip, with textures between the Canadian Golden Larch wood and the deeply-mined Cumbrian graphite so acutely contrasted you feel you could almost eat the object on the page.

Mont Blanc - the Marcel Proust special edition

The pen men are into collecting, one-upmanship, and writing bling on a big scale. It's no surprise that their must-have items are displayed alongside flashy wristwatches, signet rings, and leather wallets - mainly in black.

Mont Blanc - the Virginia Woolf special edition

The pencil boys on the other hand are very democratic and down to earth. They think nothing of proudly displaying a box of luminescent Japanese crayons alongside the latest Faber-Castell automatic pencil refils at a mere several quid for two in a paper collar or sleeve.

I'm not sure what they write about, but the mere sight of these sharpened implements glowing on screen makes you feel like a novel coming on.

See Pencil Talk

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