Sunday, January 8, 2012


Mostly, I write with a pen – I’ve used pencil, marker, even crayon (in the middle of the night when I was about 17 – a great piece of poetry I still remember.), but pen is my standard.

Somehow, pen seems more permanent than pencil, and as a writer, I want my words to resonate across the decades, to last forever. My notebooks were page after page of my blue or black scrawls until Athena, the publisher of my book, From Sheep to Shawl, persuaded me to reward myself with a brightly colored pen. Her favorite was hot pink. It took me a couple of years, but now I buy colored pens fairly often. My favorites are purple and teal.
I use the brightly colored pens for writing , but they also work really well for editing. You can’t ignore a purple comment or correction on a page of black lines.

Many writers do their composition right on the computer; I still use paper for my first and second drafts. My mind works better when it can use circles and arrows and carets on paper as a part of the editing process. Only then can I type the third draft, or if I’m skillful, the final draft, into my computer.

I like colored pens for writing except when I’m in the barn. I used to keep all my barn records in pen, for permanence you know, until the day we were giving shops and I spilled a bottle of rubbing alcohol onto my barn notebook. The ink is permanent, but my words weren’t. The alcohol dissolved the ink and spread it until it precipitated out at the edges of the pages in beautiful clouds of purple, green, blue and black, all content gone.

Now, I write with pencil in the barn, I keep my writing notebooks away from alcohol, and I try to remind myself that nothing is permanent.