This is now:
(Click the pics to view on Flickr if you'd like to see identifying notes).
They're all a bit battle-hardened (or shell-shocked) now. They've seen things--terrible things: some of the worst prose ever penciled. You young guns can't possibly understand until you've been there...
I did use some other pencils--Rhodia, a few different Staedtler pencils, a General's Layout...whatever happened to find its way into my pencil box on any given day. But those pencils took the brunt of the work. The relative length isn't necessarily an indication of how loved they were. I'm actually not sure how the Golden Bear came through so unscathed, for one thing! And I had trouble with the Oxford lead breaking, so that's part of how it ended up so dinky.
Another NaNoWriMo approaches now, and as I've mentioned, I'm starting off with pencil again this year, though I reserve the right to switch to fountain pen or typewriter or what-have-you (do *you* have a what-have-you?) if burn out or whim strikes. This year's line-up looks something like this:
Somewhat in the same line as last year, with a few new faces. Yes, that Blackwing 602 is already sadly shrunken and marked up. What can I say? It's getting used. I really like it. Once I use up the first Blackwing 602, I'll probably save the rest for journal writing and short story scribbling and other less crazed writing pursuits. I can't resist using at least one in this mad venture, but it isn't as though I don't have plenty of other pencils to fill the void...
I'm still getting to know the Musgrave Test Scoring 100 pencil (which needs a shorter and less fussy name...maybe I'll call them all Bob). In feel, it's a little like the Helix Oxford HB, though slightly less...waxy? Seems to hold a point better than the Oxford, which makes me wonder if I was over hasty in classifying it as something like a 2B. I'm not really sure *what* it is, grade-wise, but so far I like it, despite its rather poor reviews in the pencil blogosphere...which makes me wonder if my opinion is at all valid, or if I'm too ignorant to know good pencils from bad. Or maybe I just need to spend more time with it before disliking it...heh. I may yet do a highly subjective mini-review one of these days, after I've had more time to develop an accurate opinion.
I'm pleased to welcome some Ticonderogas back into the mix. I had a few newish Mexican-made ones around last year, but was unhappy with them: the lead was scratchy and pale. At some point in the past year, I picked up some Made in China Ticonderogas (the unsharpened kind that come in paper boxes), and these are entirely different. Not sure if it's batch variance, a different formula for boxed vs. pre-sharpened in blister packs, or the country of origin...but I quite like the new ones.
I guess I don't have to run through the entire line-up. They're all good, solid, dependable and (most importantly, perhaps) easily obtainable, so I don't have to feel afraid of using them...aside from maybe the Blackwing, which is so pleasant to use I just don't care.
Out of the running: I don't think I'll bother with any Mirado Black Warriors this time around. I *so* wanted to like these, but at least in their current iteration, they are disappointingly poor quality. I think the lead itself is actually pretty nice, but of those I've sharpened so far, one was warped to the point where the lead rattled and clicked inside the bent casing at certain points in its life, and others had lead so poorly centered that they were almost impossible to sharpen and they wobbled as you wrote. Maybe there are some good pencils in the package, but I don't have the heart to mess with them quite yet. I haven't had the same issues with the yellow Mirado Classic. Just lucky? I'm not sure.
You'll notice I have more in the line-up as a whole. Part of this is just because I...um...they kept following me home. Part of it is because I learned last year that variety is the spice of NaNoWriMo, and because I found it was much easier to keep my flow going when I had a whole bunch of pencils sharpened and at the ready for each writing session rather than stopping to sharpen along the way. I'd sharpen before I went to bed, and work through pencils the next day, tossing one aside when it got dull and reaching for another.
Now if I just had some idea how to start writing this thing....