Back in October of 2004 I was in a quandary about a couple of things. I had been writing all my life, especially after my tenth grade English teacher, Mrs. Sonja Maas, encouraged me and made me think I could offer something to the world. I wrote and still write because I like to do it. I like to play with words and how they sound and how punctuation affects things. Back then I had started a writing exercise called the “Nifty Three Fifty” which was just a series for limbering up the old writing muscle. Except, I had fun at it. I worked at the now (sadly) defunct Borders Book and Music at the time and as I met a couple of authors and had friends who were writers, and my writing muscle worked out more, I took some advice and started writing longer pieces. “You should put some of those online, Herb. They’re not bad.” And I had things I wanted to say; things about politics and religion and life in general and stories I wanted to write. I could change the world!
Well, I have, over the years, made friends and even, on occasion, influenced people. I think that if I had stuck to writing every day and posting something I probably could have done better. But it’s easy for someone like me to get bogged down and discouraged but if I know I have a deadline and someone will be waiting to hear from me, even if it’s lame old junk, I work harder. There are times when I really can’t get going no matter how many times I try. That’s when a tool like this comes in handy:
It’s a book full of writing prompts, pictures, and interviews with well-known authors all in a convenient three-inch block shape. I have several different books of prompts actually as well as books about writing. This book isn’t even my favorite, but it is the coolest and it sits on the top center of my desk. Of the books that are loosely related about writing in one way or another, I have two favorites and I can’t decide which I like best and they couldn’t be more different. One is “On Writng – A Memoir of the Craft” by Stephen King. A really great book whether you are a fan or not. He talks about his childhood and some of the things that led him to want to write and his rejections. He continues on, teaching basic principles of writing. I’m not really a big fan of either Stephen King or the horror genre (with some exceptions) but this book kept me reading all the way through. The other favorite book about writing is “Snoopy’s Guide to the Writing Life” which has interviews with a veritable plethora of extremely diverse authors along with some of the best comics of Snoopy and his writing adventures.`
Another item that I added as kind of an afterthought is this beautiful handcrafted leather-bound journal that my wife got me for Christmas. Its coolness is multiplied by the fact that she knows how to refill it herself whenever I might use it up. Anything that is a craft or remotely like a craft, she either knows how to do or can learn. I love the way it looks and the softness of the leather in my hands and the paper. It really is a beautiful piece that I think the hackneyed term “artisinal” actually applies to.
I mention the paper because it is of sturdy, very slightly absorbent type that is perfect for writing on with a fountain pen, a felt tip pen, a pencil, or pretty much any other writing instrument. Many of you may know or remember that I am a pen enthusiast, especially fountain pens. I’ve never had the kind of money to invest in collecting some of the higher end brands like Mont Blanc or Esterbrook. Even some of the nicer Parkers are kind of out of reach at the moment. Years ago my family bought me a nice Waterman which I still have. I think you can get a nice writing experience from inexpensive pens as I chronicled a few months ago in The Ultimate Penultimate Pen back on Oct. 19, 2019.
In that article, I talked about one of the two pens I keep on my desktop but they both are from the same place, a company called Retro 51. Their tagline is, “Life is too short to carry an ugly pen.” and they stick to it pretty well. These are the two most expensive pens in my collection and are a pleasure to handle, a pleasure to look at, and, an added bonus, a pleasure to write with as well.
And this, my friends, is the newly clean and shiny top of my desk.