I own about fifty seven or so Biro pens*- a curious number for someone whose handwriting resembles a five year old’s take on hieroglyphics. I’d bet the teachers in my past and the colleagues in my present would agree it would be best if I only ever type and never actually hand write. In fact, I’d like to take this opportunity to apologise to my former 20-year-old self for writing the most illegible revision notes in history. Apology accepted.
I’ve watched the numbers escalate as I accumulated Biros for no good reason- I dropped one on a walk somewhere- replaced with a pack of six; I’ve borrowed a few tens from work (forever); I’ve left a couple at the library (back when they were a thing)- replaced with a pack of six. In the name of courtesy, I’ve often bought last minute greeting cards on the way to birthday dinners and had to pay for emergency Biros – pack of six again.
Biros are my favoruite- cheap, multi coloured and work on most surfaces. I can take one anywhere in the world my bank account couldn’t care if I lost it. If I have an idea, I can scribble it down. If I hear something incredible that I might forget the morning after the night before- I can scribble it down. If think of something ridiculously witty to tweet but have no appropriate context at the time- scribbles again.
If I feel something I’d like to write, however, all ballpoints lose their light magic.
If I recall a painful memory or my words yield to some private nostalgia, the easy ink flow is replaced with almost graphite hesitation. These words belong to me. These starts and stops, these write and rewrites; my favourite stationary piece takes on a new role- an intruder I invited. Intrusions I should be comfortable with? Fears of judgment almost never plague me in real life. Perhaps its waiving anonymity to my vulnerabilities that I find too demanding? I’m too chicken to declare open season on my introspections.
Can I continue to write from a calculated, safe distance? All to avoid revealing someone I wasn’t supposed to be; writing something I’d never dare to say. Maybe I’m in good company on this journey. Maybe even Mr. Baldwin ripped up a few pages deciding how much of himself to let seep into Notes of A Native Son. Maybe. Maybe even The Guardian’s Opinion writers worry that their personal musings sound smug enough to alienate their readers –and The Telegraph’s? Probably (they should). Are there a million other writers who flick their Biros across the room once sufficiently frustrated? I remember that flicking pens was one of the finest things I learned in primary school. I remind myself to focus.
Conceding that pretty prose can mean nothing without my personal context has been a major step toward confronting my hesitations. The possibility that my favourite pen (or MacBook keyboard) may force recollections from hazy summers past can be something I’ll grow to accept – one day, even revel in. I do know one thing- it will no longer fuel my procrastination. Actually, maybe my procrastination is because of nothing and this piece allowed me to create the perfect excuse for my laziness. Maybe. You decide later.
*To be found all over my flat and my life. Rarely buy singles because they are a complete rip off.