Monday, November 08, 2010

2010 NaNoWriMo by Pencil: Week One Report

All pointied up and ready to rock and roll!

I went to take out the trash this morning, and it seemed to be mostly pencil shavings, coffee grinds, and spent tea leaves. Ah, NaNoWriMo, what have you done to me?

Coupla first thoughts:
1. I'm using one of Staples' sugarcane paper composition books (the line is now called Eco-Easy, I believe), which has a slightly different texture than regular paper. It's wonderful for fountain pens, but maybe a little hard and smooth for pencils. Some pencils I really enjoy on other paper feel slickery or strange. I'll switch to a regular composition book next.

2. I'm finding it's easiest to spend a few minutes at the beginning of each writing session sharpening up a whole *bunch* of pencils to use in sequence rather than stopping over and over to sharpen. It gives me a few minutes of reflection time before taking the plunge, too. A nice ritual.

Stats and such:
 NOTE: you may want to imagine the headers of the next two items as they would sound if read by one of those guys who does commercials for monster truck rallies and large power tools. < deep echoey voice mode > "COMP-oh-ZIIIH-shun book pages KILLLLLED!!!!!" < /voice > And so forth.
  • Composition book pages killed: 85
  • Pencils obliterated: none, but the Forest Choice will soon be assuming semi-retired status in the jar of shorties and a new Forest Choice subbed in. It was short to begin with, and has had a busy week.
  • Words written: 12750 as a low estimate. On the pages I counted, I had somewhere between 155 and 170 words, so I'm estimating 150 so as not to cheat. If I get ambitious or stuck, I'll start transcribing, and likely get a good boost. With the current estimate, I'm a little behind, but not terribly. If I could just get away with writing uninterrupted during lunch once in awhile...

Next up, some Pencil Achievement Awards.
  • Most fun to sharpen: the Rhodia given to me awhile back. They're linden wood, so you don't get the cedar smell, but the triangular shape produces interesting shavings, plus those shavings are a lovely velvety black with orange trim. They fascinate me.
  • Purtiest: The Palominos are beautifully finished in thick blue lacquer and lovely silver writing, but I'm still captivated by the deep red-orange Golden Bears with blue erasers.
  • Most aromatic: probably the Golden Bears, with the Mirados a close second.

It's turning out that some of the pencils I like most in the "off season" are not the greatest NaNoWriMo pencils. The Helix Oxford, for example. It writes a nice dark line that really stands out when I look back through the pages of my journal...*but* it requires frequent enough sharpening that it's less than satisfactory for long slogs. It's also one of the pencils that feels funny on the sugarcane paper.

And how is the story going? You *would* have to ask that. Wellll...I'm finally *mostly* finished writing about a century's worth of history regarding space exploration in the late 21st and early 22nd centuries, so maybe the story can finally truly begin. As usual, I got a little sidetracked by secondary characters I hadn't even dreamed of when I started out. I like them anyway.


Duffy Moon said...

Coffee grounds, tea bags and pencil shavings? Well, call me a tree-hugger (which, if you do, would likely be the first time anyone's ever called me that, but still...) but where I come from that's called compost.

Sounds like you're off to an awesome start. Maybe I should switch to pencils?

sjb said...

Wow. Any time I start feeling sorry for myself having to pound on a manual typewriter for NaNo, I'll remember you and know that I've got it easy. I remember my University days and writing exams by hand and the resulting aches and pains. Congrats on keeping up with the word count!

Elizabeth H. said...

where I come from that's called compost.

You know, as I was posting I thought, "Someone's gonna call me on that..." We composted at least some of the time when I growing up, and I wish I had a place to do it now...but I don't, really. Someday!

You want I should package 'em up and send 'em to you? Heh...

@sjb--I thought maybe I'd have a lot of hand pain, but I guess my pre-NaNo journal writing regimen did the trick. So far so good. I think I'm developing a permanent notch where the pencil rests against my middle finger, though....

Robert M. said...

I was going to do my whole project in pencil, but due to an unplanned schedule change and some fun new responsibilities, I'm resigning my pencils and paper to notes and outlines while my actual writing gets done by way of computer.

Sadly I haven't given my wooden pencils much of a workout for NaNoWriMo. My Tombows and CDTs have gotten a little bit of paper time (when I'm at home at least), but mostly I've been using leadholders for both comfort and convenience.

Good luck with the rest of your month!

Elizabeth H. said...

I *really* want to try some Tombows someday.

What are CDTs? (Am I going to feel seriously stupid for asking?)

Good luck to you, too!

Robert M. said...

Unfortunately, it's kind of a pain to get the better Mono 100s in the USA. I live in East Asia, where I can buy them locally, and they're still a tad expensive. In the USA, they're typically available through JetPens, and when Bundoki gets their English back up, they should have some available as well. Before they were available locally to me, I ordered them through, along with Mitsubishi's Hi-uni and other Japanese pencils.

The Mono Professional, which is a slightly inferior pencil (a rebranded Tombow Mono, which is the "standard" model, whereas the Mono 100 is the premium version), is available through some art suppliers for quite a bit less.

My "CDT" is a pencil made by Pentel for the design company Craft Design Technology in Japan. I got word from Bundoki that they were discontinued like other wooden pencils from Pentel, but they can still be purchased from a few sources. They had a brief stretch of popularity a few years ago when the blog PencilTalk did a review of the top Japanese pencils.

The Hi-uni of course is also worthy of praise, and is also available through most of the same channels as the Tombow Mono 100 (, jetpens, etc.) It too is an expensive pencil in most markets. For many, they'll be more a luxury item than a staple.

If you can find them, I also recommend cheaper pencils like Mitsubishi's 9800 ( and eBay). The lead in them is still pretty top-notch, though they're not quite as dark as the flagship products (closer to Mars Lumograph, which is also a very respectable pencil).

The Palominos are good pencils, though the lead is a bit soft and fragile. The imprint on the blue pencils is not silver though, it's gold. It's a little bit of an optical illusion with the blue model. Sean at Blackwing Pages added a silver Microtomic ferrule to some blue Palominos and the effect was rather clashing until he tried some brass/gold colored ferrules.

Phew, that was a long comment :)

Elizabeth H. said...

Long perhaps, but very informative. Thank you! And I stand corrected on the Palomino lettering: you're absolutely right. It's sort of a "white gold" when seen against the blue, but definitely not silver.