Musings

Random Post about Pens: AKA, I Buy Far Too Many Pens

I have a thing for pens.  Not just any pens, though. I like fine tip pens, fine tip marker pens, and old-school fountain pens.  I have quite a collection, as you can see from the image below.  Here’s the thing, though.  That’s just a small sample of my pen collection and about half of those were recent acquisitions.

The Collection of Awesomeness

The Triplus Fineliner large set was a reward I gave myself for finishing the recent Mythica project (purchased today actually) and the fountain pen resting horizontally across the Triplus pens was a gift from my little brother, Braden (who, coincidentally, works for a pen store called Pen Chalet).  He thought I should have a nice fountain pen with imperial purple ink to do book signings with to go with my “Guy in the Purple Shirt” theme.  It’s a nice pen.  I like it.

What does this have to do with anything?

Absolutely nothing, really, except that I like pens.

There’s something exceptionally satisfying about going back to basics and writing things out by hand.  Pen scratching against paper is a glorious sound.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m twenty-eight and fully understand the electronic age.  In fact, this very blog post is being written via a keyboard on a Surface tablet that, 15 years ago, was considered impossible technology.  But pens bring me an odd little delightful sense of joy when I use them.  They make me happy.  They make me want to write again.

Shadow of a Dark Queen – Book 1 of the Serpentwar Saga

 

Life has been crazy lately.  It’s been stressful, chaotic, and not very conducive to writing.  I’ve had to struggle to re-define my center and re-centralize my focus.  Part of that was rediscovering the things that made me want to write in the first place.  Re-reading Raymond E Feist’s books, especially the Serpentwar Saga, reading some of my earlier work, talking to other writers who’ve inspired me, and, something that is odd, but decidedly me, writing things by hand more often.

I wrote my first three novels completely by hand in spiral notebooks.  I was looking back at those the other day.  After a couple drafts written longhand, I typed them up over a decade ago.  The word count?  147,000 word on one single project.  On the fourth draft.  That means I wrote out, by hand, approximately 400,000 words just for that one book.  No wonder I have hand problems.

I can’t do that much longhand anymore, my fingers swell just by typing too much these days, but going back to the roots of what started it all for me has helped rekindle the writing juices and given me the help I need to keep on writing.  It’s a marathon, not a sprint.

And I’ll keep on collecting pens.

 

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Making the Difference

A couple weeks ago, my 5 year old son decided he wanted some new toys.  My wife, being the brilliant woman that she is, recognized a perfect opportunity to teach him that he had to earn what he wanted AND to get rid of some old toys at the same time.  She told him that if he wanted some new toys, he had to sell some of his old ones that he doesn’t play with anymore.

He seemed rather amenable to the idea and spent a few hours looking over lego sets online with his mom and little sister before going through his toys and deciding which ones he would sell.  Once that pile was chosen, he helped his mother list them on a yardsale site and waited.  He showed more patience than I’ve ever witnessed before and waited for people to make offers and come and get toys.  He earned a whole $20 off his old toys.

When I got home from work that afternoon, he rushed to the door waving his $20 bill and saying that we had to go to target.  He was so proud of himself and, once my wife explained what had happened, so was I.  It was a great parenting moment for my wife and I.  He’d figured it out.  He had to give up something old to get something new.  He’d worked through the logic of it all and it had stuck.  Yes!

So, naturally, we went to Target.  I was more than happy to reward him for his efforts and take him to get his new lego set.  His little 5 year old excitement was contagious as he rushed into the store and ran straight for the lego section in the back.  I jogged to keep up with him, but I was happy to do it.  He was so happy.

He ran right to the isle and, in less than a 10 seconds, found the exact set he wanted, grabbed it off the shelf, and brought it to me with a smile as wide as the Mississippi river on his face.  It was infectious.  My wife and daughter caught up to us at that moment and their grins at seeing his happiness were heartwarming.

Then I saw the price tag at the exact moments that my wife recognized what set he was holding.

With all the kindness in the world, my wife told him he didn’t have enough money for that particular set.  He’d need to choose a different one.

The Lego set

His joy vanished in an instant.  “But mommy,” he said, “this is the one I want.  I sold my old toys and everything.”  He started crying.  My heart broke.

My wife turned to me and explained that he’d been looking at lego sets all day and how he’d always come back to that one.

I realized what had happened.  While he’d gotten the overall idea of giving up his old toys for new ones, he hadn’t gotten the concept of value yet.  He simply didn’t understand that he didn’t have enough money to get the set he wanted.  He’d chosen a set and had given up his old toys, some of which were very special to him for a number of years, so he could get that set.

We ended up going home with that set.  I made up the difference.

Built

Over the next week or so it took to put together that set with him, I found myself pondering over that moment and realizing how often that happens in my life, even as an adult.  There are dozens of times a day where I give my all in a specific endeavor and others make up the difference.  In

writing, the stories I tell are my all, but without my beta readers, editors, and fans making up the difference, I wouldn’t be able to take home anything.  I wouldn’t learn anything.  As a parent, I give my all, but without the help of my amazing wife making up the difference, we wouldn’t have the wonderful children we have. So many people help make up the difference.

Looking at my son’s face as he played with the finished lego set made me realize just how important it is to help make up the difference in other people’s lives, and how much other people make up the difference in mine.  I hope we can all be the difference that makes the difference in others’ lives.

 


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