Monday, January 4, 2010

Obsession with Stationery

Some people love their car, their plasma telly or their watch. My personal fetish is stationery.
A nicely balanced pen and a blank pile of white paper is bliss. Without a decent pen I seem to be unable to write anything cogent.
My cell is littered with old notepads, notebooks, and stacks of Post-Its. I have six journals and three diaries. Much of this would be familiar to any research student but I have to confess that I'd like this stuff even if there was little to write in them. Stationery supply catalogues only marginally lose out to porn as my reading preference.
My pen supply is currently unusually sparse. At the peak of my acquisitiveness, some generous soul bought me a Parker Duofold Platinum fountain pen and ballpoint set. When you unleash such expensive tools then you feel the weight of expectation to write profound thoughts. I will die a happy man should I ever possess a Yard O Led Grand Viceroy pen ( ha ha).
At present I'm using a standard Parker ballpoint. You would think this would be unproblematic. But of course - refills are a necessity and they can't be bought through our prison shop.
Despite the petty difficulties, there is something significant about sitting, pen in hand, with a blank sheet of paper. This is quite different from sitting in front of a blank computer screen. With pen and paper there seems to be a world of possibilities, and an impression that what is written may actually matter. With a PC, the delete key renders everything temporary and thoughtless.
But what is written on a blank paper page could alter the course of human history. Or organise next week’s shopping.


  1. I'm a bit 'OCD' when it comes to my fountain pens, I just cannot think properly when I write with anything else. I keep two - one in my bag with a small notebook and one by my PC. I don't know if it's the flow of the ink but my ideas just seem to come out quicker than they do with a ballpoint.

  2. And I thought it was just me who could spend an age flicking through the stationery catalogue. I considered doing my xmas shopping from one once :)

  3. While I share your love of nice stationery, which is a subset of the love of good tools instilled by my engineer father who appreciated good design I must respectfully disagree about writing on a computer.

    We were the first honours students to be able to do our theses entirely on a computer, back in '87. My PhD thesis, and all my papers were written entirely in silico apart from handwritten notes from the library that got incorporated. The great thing about writing on screen is that you can go back and seamlessly edit with no messiness. I would start by thinking say 300 words into the computer. Then I would go back and correct the grammar and make it read better. Then I would go through and put in the references etc and if I needed to a new section or rearrange the paragraphs then it was simplicity itself.

    When you get out and into academia Ben you will discover this, necessarily so best to get into it as soon as possible as well as learning to touch type.

    I use a nice gel pen and a notebook when I am initially writing poetry, but once my muse has spoken in draft form it goes into the computer for editing/improving. I have turned on the feature which preserves earlier versions so I can always go backwards anytime I want or can have two competing versions going at once.

    If typing is too much for you there are now good systems for input using a stylus and software that recognises your handwriting.

  4. just love my cheap Bic medium ballpoint

  5. So presumably when you've got your nice stationery, your pen is in hand, and when you're perusing your 'art pampletry', your ...

    (Yeah, it is a lot of work for a rather feeble pun)

  6. I prefer to compose on a keyboard, partly as I can type faster than I can write. But oh, I tried someone's gel rolling ball Parker and it was SO smooth. Can't do without a notebook and a fine point black waterproof Uniball micro in my bag, though.

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  8. Absolutely in love with Google Docs right now (no gloat intended!) but my personal writing conceit is a Moleskine pad. I let myself right down on the pen front, though, usually sporting a black Bic crystal or possibly office stationery.

  9. Dying happy sounds good to me. The problem is that 'Yard O Led Grand Viceroy' is just a type of pen. What size would you want and what kind of finnish?

    christian sam

  10. I also use to keep my stationery in a systematic way. Without that I am unable to work. Arranging the stationery in a systematic way helps to increase the productivity.
    Buy pens online india