Tools of the Trade

Jessie: Peering out my office window over a sun-blotting snowbank.

One of the many pleasures of being a writer is a sort of carte blanche regarding  stationary supplies. During difficult days spent staring at a blank page I sometimes wonder if guilt-free access office supplies is what makes any of it worth the doing.

Now that I’ve started writing historical mysteries I find the flames of my interest Even more wildly fanned. My characters use  manual typewriters, fountain pens, and reams of foolscap. In the interest of research, I  hardly be blamed if I feel I must try these things out for myself. How could I possibly describe the heft of a fountain pen or the scratch of its nib against a creamy sheet of heavy paper if I had not used one myself?

What started as research has turned into a guilty pleasure  of the finest kind. At present I would prefer not to report the number of pens I feel fondly towards. Things have gotten to the point I am considering  sophisticated storage methods.

Notebooks, and boxes of stationary chomp at the heels of my pen obsession. Used notebooks filled with story ideas and outlines and things I meant to remember sit cheek by jowl on a shelf in my office. Their unsullied neighbors awaiting their own turn beneath the inelegant ministrations of my pens give me chiding glances whenever I attempt to squeeze my latest spontaneous purchase in next to them on a already crowded shelf.

Thus far, I’ve managed to resist the siren song of blotting paper and wax seals. But I won’t lie; I doubt I can hold out much longer., Gouletpens.comLevenger and even Amazon offer up temptations every time I visit their sites. Trips to bookstores with stationary sections are similarly kitted out with an necessary yet almost irresistible writing tools. The only thing I can say in my defense, especially at this time of year, is that these  purchases are tax-deductible.

Readers is there anything you find especially hard to resist? Do you love pens, notebooks, jars of paste?

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23 Responses to Tools of the Trade

  1. Gram says:

    For years it was notepaper. Gorgeous notes from museums around the country, funny notepaper from anywhere, Thank you notepaper, and notes and cards for every occasion… Now that my handwriting is too hard to read I have given most of them away.

    • Barb Ross says:

      Gram–A few years ago I made a vow I couldn’t buy any new notepaper or cards until I’d used the stash up. Now, I’ve finally done it. I’ve started sending handwritten notes to my granddaughter every other week or so. She loves them!

      • MCWriTers says:

        Barb, what a wonderful way to use your notepaper! I’m sure she loves the letters now and will cherish them in future!

    • MCWriTers says:

      Museum notes! I’m drooling!

  2. Heidi Wilson says:

    And here is your dream:
    The Montblanc Meisterstueck Moon Pearl Legrand Fountain Pen ($3,195.00)

    May the success of your next book make this a perfectly reasonable purchase.

  3. Lea Wait says:

    Oh, yes! I could spend hours (and $$$$) at Staples. And Levenger’s? Over years, my office has become a Levenger’s showcase. Their circa notebook (I just ordered larger rings for mine, to expand it) is my series “bible,” my file cabinets and book stands are Levengers … years (MANY years) ago Bob gave me a Cartier gold fountain pen — and a Tiffany’s sterling one. I haven’t used either in years, but sometimes I just hold them … I can tell what year I took notes in the notebooks I’ve saved for (too many) years — in college I only used brown ink, for example. I could write an ode to newly sharpened pencils … and may some day. Ah, yes. The lure of writing supplies … Good to know I have a fellow addict!

    • MCWriTers says:

      Levenger, Cartier and Tiffany conjere such longing! I think I would love to simply sit in your office basking!

  4. L.C. Rooney says:

    It always begins with something small, seemingly harmless. Note paper with tiny flourishes in the corners, or the slightest parfum to linger on the hands long after the final stroke of the pen. Then you find yourself making some discreet inquiries: Where might I procure a pen to properly honor this lovely paper? Oh! Is there anything that can more thoroughly convince a writer that she is creating a true work of art than a fine writing instrument? The quest for the exotic in papers and ink consumes you, and you find yourself surreptitiously slipping into the obscure little stationery shop here, an online outlet there, whenever a little extra change jingles in your pocket. When no one’s looking, you may even try a bit of — gasp! — calligraphy. And so it goes, until, ultimately, the addiction is fully manifested. Your fate is sealed … with the blood-red stain of your initial in bold relief on the back of every envelope. Yes. I’m talking about … sealing wax.

    My name is Linda, and I am a stationery addict.

    • Lea Wait says:

      Brilliant., Linda!

    • MCWriTers says:

      Oh, Linda! How clearly you look into the heart of stationery darkness! I fear the sealing of my fate every time I flip thorough the Victorian Trading Company catalogue. One day I just know I will weaken and I too shall own wax and a collection of seals. I could certainly choose a letter J. But then what if the recipient of the correspondence was confused by my first initial? It would only be polite to seal their letter with either a C or an E. Which would bring me to three, and in my book, that begins the collection.

  5. Julianne Spreng says:

    Jessie My dad used ink wells and fabric scraps for blotting and wiping the pen when he was in school This certainly dates me, but I used a fountain pen in school. It could be very messy when the ink spontaneously leaked or ejected from the reservoir. But…once you learned to control the pen cursive was a thing of beauty. My son is left-handed and had a terrible time trying to use my pen. After some research, it was discovered that pen nibs are directional. I had to get him a left-hand nib. He also made himself a personal stamp used with the sealing wax.

    Beautiful pens, paper, inks, cards are an indulgence I can definitely relate to.

    • MCWriTers says:

      Julianne, my handwriting has improved enormously since I began to use a fountain pen. I think it’s because it’s a pleasure to use and I slow down in order to savor the experience. How fortunate for your son that you got to the bottom of his difficulties so that he could enjoy one also!

  6. Barb Ross says:

    Count me in as an addict, too. Like Lea, I have a particular weakness for Staples and Levengers. Levenger Circa datebooks and notebooks run my life. And I love to buy note cards in the gift shops of museums and other tourist places we visit. I’ve been keeping it all down to a dull roar recently–with difficulty.

    • MCWriTers says:

      I have coveted many of your Levenger products over the years I’ve known you, Barb! I do hope your roar will not be too dull!

  7. Karen Whalen says:

    I used to have beautiful handwriting and loved office supply stores, even thought I would learn calligraphy. Now issues with my hand mean I mainly write on the laptop. But I do have an addiction–hardware stores. I love to roam the aisles fondling things I have no idea how to use. And never use once I buy them…

    • MCWriTers says:

      Hardware stores have their own delicious appeal don’t they, Karen? There are so many things that gleam, curve and have an entirely pleasurable heft. They certainly spark creativity.

  8. Skye says:

    I thought I was the only person in the world with this addiction. I adore fine tipped black pens and ultra-fine point automatic pencils. Paper, note paper, notebook paper, stationary has to be a certain consistency; slightly porous. I once had an unusual handwriting; people commented, but now, my hands are not what they used to be. Thank you for sharing this!

    • MCWriTers says:

      It seems you are in good company, Skye! I too have a fondness for fine tipped black pens and slightly porous paper. There’s just something about that slight scratchy drag that makes a delightfully tactile experience to the briefest of notes or the longest of mind dumps.

  9. Joan Emerson says:

    Count me in, too, when it comes to lovely journals, really nice writing paper, and pencils . . . .

    • MCWriTers says:

      Joan, lovely journals get me every time. I’m proud to say I finally reached a point in life where I write in them instead of looking at them on my shelf with the utter conviction they would be spoilt by my handwriting marring their pages. It may not win any awards in the emotional growth department but I’m quite proud of the change.

  10. Linda Baker says:

    Beautiful paper, both hand and machine-made for crafting cards, wreaths, flowers—whatever strikes my fancy!

    • MCWriTers says:

      Handmade paper and handmade cards are such treasures, aren’t they Linda? They’ve often struck my fancy!

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