Today has been pen quest day. Pen quest is one of those slight but aggravating signs of obsessive/compulsive behaviour that I try to hide from people, especially other writers. My neuroses are—as you know—rare. You might think I’m protesting a bit too much. You’d be right. I am a touch neurotic about pens.
The problem with pen quest is that it comes around with monotonous regularity. Some writers know how many words they write in a week or month or year, I don’t, mainly because I’m innumerate. What I do know is that I am a fifteen pen per annum woman, and as my pen of choice comes in a five pack, I make three trips a year to find them.
Yes actually, before you email me to tell me I’m witless, I have thought of buying them in one annual jamboree of penitude. There is a problem with that approach, which is that by the end of the year, only two of the five pens in the ultimate pack work. Or so it was for me. And there are few things as frustrating as picking up a new pen and finding it doesn’t function, not to mention the frantic scribbling, the rolling of the pen between the palms of the hands, the running it under a hot tap to soften its ink and all the other completely ineffective ways of resuscitating a defunct pen that you can find out by googling the subject. Actually there is one thing more frustrating – it’s the moment after you throw the uncooperative new pen in the bin and pick up the last new pen, only to find it is as non-functioning as its immediate predecessor.
My chosen implement is the Papermate flexgrip ultra in medium, with blue ink. As pens go, it’s not quite as ubiquitous as a Bic, but certainly more so than many another. And yet whenever I go hunting for it, the Papermate flexgrip ultra in medium, with blue ink is hard to find. I can locate individual blue pens, at exhorbitant prices, (by the way, Collins online says exhorbitant is archaic, which suddenly makes me feel ancient, but that’s how I was taught to spell it and leaving the h out looks wrong to me) or black pens in fives. Neither will serve. A gum-chewing shop assistant offers me a gel pen. I scowl and travel to another shop. In another shop, the sales assistant has a pierced eyebrow which looks septic, or he has green brows, which is not as elven and fey as it sounds. I watch him scratch said brow with the pen he is about to try and sell me and leave another shop for yet a third shop.
Third shop has my pens. I calculate the working hours lost to this exercise with one of my new pens, on the back of my (exhorbitant) parking receipt and decide I have to work unceasingly until midnight to make up for lost time.
And that explains why I’m sitting here blogging … or perhaps it doesn’t.
Pens courtesy of Jose C Silva at Flickr under a creative commons licence