I have been using mainly pencils and a graphite stick for drawing so far. As a novice just starting out, it is just so comforting to be able to erase errors and start all over again! The fear of spoiling a sheet of pristine white paper with an ugly drawing remains dreadfully near.
But our teacher has encouraged us to: “敢敢的劃!劃錯了再來過, 還可以改!” This means don’t be afraid of making mistakes, just draw and you can make corrections or try again. He understands our fear of paper.
So I am thankful for pencils.
I am reminded that Henry Thoreau, the author of one of my favourite books Walden, started out as a pencil maker and that he came from a family of pencil makers.
Ernest Hemingway actually wrote with a pencil – at least in his early years in Paris in the 1920s. He mentioned this in A Moveable Feast, another one of my favourite books. In a cafe where he wrote, he had even sharpened his pencil and left the shavings on the saucer of his cafe créme.
It remains a mystery to me why Hemingway carried a notebook small enough to put in his pocket, yet carried a pencil long enough to write for hours. Wouldn’t it pierce through his pocket? And why on earth was he carrying a sharpener? Can you imagine Hemingway carrying a sharpener? It seems a little…juvenile…uncool. Maybe he used a pen-knife. Yes, I can imagine him carrying a pen-knife. That is much more sophisticated and more in keeping with my romantic ideas of Paris of that era.
These little mysteries keep me awake at night.
Ah! The wonders of a pencil.