I’ve always had a “thing” about pencils. For me, there’s something magical about using a pencil to write with. I’ve also had typewriters, then a word processor, and now a computer. But I always go back to my pencils.
I have such an obsession with them, that I’ve been collecting pencils for quite a few years. I have well over 1,000 and can hardly resist when I see one somewhere that I don’t already have. I doubt if I’ll ever use them all in my lifetime, and I’m sure I’ll be adding to the collection as I continue along. I also have several friends who send them to me from time to time.
Most of my writing starts out in pencil, many of my poems, lyrics and stories have been completed in pencil. Once I type them out, I print them, and then go over them to make corrections in pencil. I go back and forth re-writing, re-printing and re-typing, until I feel they’re done or I’m out of ideas. I use a #2 lead for the corrections and additions.
They have to be wooden pencils as well, a mechanical pencil doesn’t feel comfortable in my hand. Also, when I sharpen them in the electronic pencil sharpener, it’s like listening to a song playing, that I can listen to over and over.
The sound connects me right back to my writing. I feel that if I’m using pencil lead, I’m accomplishing a lot of writing, and or re-writing. This helps me to feel like I’m moving forward with the poem, lyric or story.
I’ve studied Henry David Thoreau, and besides having the same first name (his middle name was Henry), his parents owned a pencil factory. I seem to have a lot of others things in common with him, although I don’t keep a journal, I tend to write things that are auto-biographical. I also write about nature quite a bit.
I have a friend who is a western and old west fanatic like me; we love both the real Old West and the Hollywood versions as well. I’ll call her Miss Prim, which comes from a western story we once read together. The Spanish language comes up a lot in the old West between California and Texas. One day when we were talking about pistoleros, banditos, mineros, gambusinos, and locos, I came up with I’m a PENCILERO!! We had a good laugh about it.
I also send her packages of pencils, being the school marm that she is, she lets her students use them. They laugh at the cartoon characters, but are partial to the Disney art on them.
I get most of my pencils from the 99 cent store, they have a large variety. I have Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald and Daisy Duck, Goofy, Winnie the Pooh, Tinkerbell, LA Lakers, LA Dodgers, Anaheim Angels, Sponge Bob, Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers to name a few.
Some come from a mail order company, I once bought a box 250 pencils from them. All of them had some kind of design on them, smiley aces, hearts, sports balls, base ball, soccer, football, basketball, etc. Also, asssorted flowers and butterflies and other artsy designs. I also have pencils with guitar’s on them. As well as from places I visit like San Fernando Mission, San Luis Obispo Mission, Placerita Canyon, as well as personalized pencils with my name and other people’s, which I’ve given a gifts.
I have pencils (and paper) wherever I go, in the truck, outside in the garage, next to my bed and other rooms of the house. Like a gunslinger with his gun, or Zorro with his sword; El Pencilero is always ready for the next idea. If I get an idea in the middle of the night, I have a flash light for light, and paper and pencil are within easy reach.
In the truck I only use them when they’re 4 inches or less. This way they fit perfectly in the middle console. When I used larger pencils, they’d fall beween the seats, under the seats, it seemed like I was always looking for one. This way they don’t’ move, while I’m driving.
Using the word Pencilero, I might have created a new word; we have a language here in California called Spanglish. It’s a combination of English and Spanish and mixing Spanish words in English sentences.
I have my pencils separated in various places and sizes, like tools in different departments of a tool box or tool crib. New and unsharpened are in their sections, there is the sharpened and the need to be sharpened departments. There are the pencils worn down to the proper size to go in the truck, they go in a certain box. This way I always have back up to take with me.
There’s usually one or two that are real small and are used until they’re too small to be sharpened in the pencil sharpener, they go into the “retired” box. This happens when they are 2 ½ inches long. Even though there is no shortage of pencils in the world, or in my room, I use them till I can’t use them anymore.
David Smith is a poet, musician, songwriter, who also writes stories and makes videos.