My first pen was a gift from a friend in 90s.
I fell in lust with this beautiful dark emerald green of a roller ball, and while I never knew the make or model of it, I just knew that this was Special and I would write Great Things with it. I would weigh my pretty in my hands, taking pride in the glean of its fake-gold tinted clasp and just feeling like a Writer.
It’s proud designation of importance from me was that it was a tool to be only be used for fan-fiction, personal notes, and meandering essays. I was probably 15 or 16 then, deeply immersed in being a tortured soul, angsting over goodness-remembers-what and inclined towards the notion of a romantic rebel without a cause. Eventually though, the lovely black ink luster won out (also, the expensive refills would dry out) and I was using it all the time, scribbling haphazardly on mounds of foolscap paper, filling line after lines in cheap notebooks with whatever sprung to mind.
But it was a really thoughtful and encouraging gift from a friend who wasn’t even from the same class.
Despite being in the same school for a decade, we weren’t particularly close. I don’t remember ever really having a discussion about our writing but it was partly because I was afraid of sounding stupid in front of her. I probably did. My friend was a model all-rounder student with excellent grades and sporting, obviously destined for greater things while I floundered enough academically to have certain teachers shaking their heads when they saw me and deliberately joined after-school clubs that involved no active participation.
However, Said Friend and I did share a love of fantasy novels and she introduced me to the delights of Mercedes Lackey’s Magic series. It was the first time in my life that I encountered an LGBT character in a fantasy setting, and I was totally thrown off. We swooned over the descriptions of the beautiful, talented, and (most-important-part-for-a-fangirl) tragic hero Vanyel and his black-silver hair and the lost love of his life. (Better yet, they were SOUL MATES. STAR CROSSED SOUL MATES. You don’t get better than that for a fangirl.) I still remember her signing off a letter or note to me with a common refrain in Lackey’s books; “Wind to Thy Wings” and thinking how grand it felt.
But just as we graduated and lost contact, my first pen began to feature less in my life as the personal computer took precedence.
The internet, chatrooms, Microsoft Word had appeared, and as the advent of printers slowly but surely made real writing seem obsolete and slow. Emails replaced my letters and aerograms and postcards, and my excitement at being able to talk to a new friend in Alaska in real time outweighed any misgivings I had about losing out on the written one. My first pen was eventually displaced during yet another round of moving houses the family was playing then and I failed to notice it till much later. Even then, I was too exhausted then from turbulent events to dwell or be upset over the loss.
The loss didn’t hit me till I acquired my second pen.
I don’t remember how much the second pen cost, but everything else remains clear; where I bought it, whom I was with, all those details were ingrained . But number two just didn’t seem to gel as well with me. It was like a “you-look-good-let’s-try-it-out” but the words couldn’t come and then I noticed the ink seemed to bloat a lot and the flow didn’t have the smoothness of the first… Okay maybe I was a tad hard on it. Perhaps it too knew that it couldn’t displace the first from my affections and just stopped trying. I started to miss my first in the face of the resisting and uncaring second.
It was around then that I bought my first moleskin notebook.
I never bought a second. The moleskin was such an expensive notebook that I could not bear to make a scratch in it. I put it down to my strange hoarding instinct, but the truth was, I didn’t feel up to par writing in it. After seeing brilliant examples of how artists filled their moleskins, I felt like I was sullying it when I tried to write in it. I got paranoid when my words didn’t seem to print beautifully onto the page and remained in my scrawly kindergarten splatter. It got to the point that I would started to trace words out on a paper before I rewrote it in my notebook so that it would look all neat and straight. I wasn’t sure what was bringing out this craziness. I mean, it’s not like I expect that after I expire, people are going to go through my notebooks and comment about my handwriting style?
No surprise, after awhile, the moleskin was stashed away and I bought a stack of cheap thin notepads and kept them lying around the house for scribbling purposes. My mother uses them too, and I have to say, it’s been a great working relationship with no lingering attachments.
But what made my first pen so perfect that the second did not?
Perhaps my second wasn’t throwing a tantrum. Just as one pen isn’t made for one notebook, one does not get better at writing by not writing. I have been constantly marvelling at the writers I enjoyed, then worrying that I wasn’t writing the right way, fretting that I wasn’t original, witty or creative enough. Eventually it wore me out. I stopped even before I started because I felt like I didn’t have anything to say and I didn’t know what I could write about.
Now I pine for my first pen, not because it felt like the perfect pen, but at thirteen going on to sixteen, I was fearless. I wrote because I was insatiable. I wrote without worrying that someone would feel I wasn’t original. I wrote without self-censorship. I just wrote because I felt the urge to, but most of all I wrote because I enjoyed it.
Maybe I won’t ever be a real writer, maybe I won’t ever get to publish a story.
But it doesn’t mean I can’t keep writing.
Perhaps next week I think I shall go window-shopping. I shall return to the place where my first pen might have came from (my friend had to tell me where to buy the refills) and see if something new catches my eye. What is essential is after all invisible to the eye. The third pen might be hiding there, just out of sight.
And who knows how the writing will go on from there?