The "Standard of Ur" from ancient Mesopotamia
15 May 2009
In praise of the pencil
I should hate pencils. As a lefty, when I finish writing something in pencil, both my hand and the page (and sometimes my clothes and face) are smeared with graphite.
But like most writers, I love office supplies, and the pencil is no exception. In fact, a No. 1 pencil is my implement of choice for brainstorming and often for taking notes.
Note I said a No. 1 pencil. The standard No. 2 pencil breaks too easily under my patented "grip of death" (see at right). And forget the No. 3 pencil! The tip scritches unyieldingly against the paper and snaps every sentence or two, and the effort produces only a pale, thin, wimpy line.
Give me a No. 1 pencil anytime. The tip rarely breaks, and it makes a satisfying dark, legible line. Unlike even the best pens, it never skips. If you turn the pencil sideways, it shades drawings nicely. And best of all, it has a subtle yet pleasant give compared with other pencils, like walking on a wooden floor instead of concrete.
For my taste, the No. 1 pencil is the queen of pencils.
What weapon do you most often yield when writing by hand?