On Writing with a Pencil

By August 10, 2013 No Comments

August 6, 2013. Early morning.

This early morning I am sitting on a deck overlooking a relatively placid river. The current is obvious, but there is no sound of rushing water. The water runs deep between two grassy cut banks. Across the river, on the floodplain, black Angus graze. Above the cows, on the first river bench, an old farmhouse and several aged barns house the workings of the farm. Mature trees shade and serve as a windbreak to the house and a couple of the barns. The largest barn is a classic hay barn. The sort of barn every kid draws when asked, “Draw a barn.” The farm lies organic on the land. Over time the buildings grew into the land as the land they worked became a part of them. They belong to each other, like fingers of opposing hands meshed together.

Behind the farm, a mountain rises steeply forming a long north/south forested running ridge. Behind that ridge, on the other side of the valley, a provincial park starts. The next road is a few days’ walk across the mountains. Mountains full of glaciers, granite cliffs, mountain goats and the occasional climber. The peaks on the horizon resemble saw teeth. Granite saw teeth.

This side of the river is a 60 or 70 year-old second growth forest. A maturing mix of birches, fir and cedar, the forest floor is open and covered with duff. In front of the deck a broad swath of mowed grass runs down to the water.

Half way to the river, the grass is broken by the remnants of a garden. Maybe 40 by 80, square grey weathered cedar posts once holding deer fencing outline the plot. Inside and along the edges stand several fruit trees. Two pear trees, just about to ripen, a couple sweet plum trees now ripe, and a peach tree. These are the only bearing remnants of the garden. The balance is now grass.

At the house end of the enclosure, a green steel gate lies open to the interior. Yesterday, walking down to the river I walked thought the gate and just as easily out the other end, as a matter of principle. To see how it felt to walk effortlessly though a deer fence. To be a present day ghost visiting the past.

The cabin offers all the amenities of modern life. Almost all. Hot and cold water. Shower and tub. A full kitchen and a fine outdoor barbeque. Dishwasher. Both wood and hot air heat. Lights. Music from a 200 disc CD player.

But in this small interior BC valley there is no internet and no cell coverage. The coffee shops (with great dark coffee) offer WiFi, but cell coverage remains not an option.

And I’m writing this by hand. With a #2 mechanical pencil. A Bic. Blue with a white soft plastic molding where you grip the pencil with your fingers. In recent years, this particular mechanical pencil replaced the original yellow hexagonal #2. It moves easily across the page. Words fall onto the page in my half readable scratchings. Some words fall into full sentences. Some words form brief notes left to fill in when I start to translate this onto my computer.

And as I write this, I wonder about the difference in the creativity in composing on lined paper with a pencil versus composing directly on a computer. If I wrote at home, at my desk with the world at my fingertips, I would move away from this piece and Goggle “writing with a pencil” to see what came up. And then I’d follow that thread for an hour, maybe more, leaving behind my original thoughts, feelings and incorporate the thoughts and research of others. I’d find out about the mind/physical balance of writing with a pencil. And how that differs from composing solely on a computer. How each fosters a particular type of creativity.

So what?

Who really needs Goggle?

For my writing, all I really need is a few lined sheets of paper and a pencil. Not even my current fav, just a pencil.
I know what I need to create. I don’t need to be validated (or not) by a series of creativity studies dredged off Goggle.

Time, a pencil and a stack of paper and I’m good. And adding a cup of Bean Pod coffee on a deck with a view helps just a bit.