From my first soft-lead, loopy cursive K, pencils have been my constant companions. That bright, honey-colored painted wood; the thin graphite stalk; the rubbery pink eraser set in a metal crown. I love the malleable things pencils can make: rough drafts, sketches, doodles, lists.

As a writer, I often start my work subconsciously, with scratches from a No. 2 Dixon Ticonderoga on the back of an envelope. I'm making a list of market vegetables, then a soothing repetitive geometric pattern...and suddenly I'm creating the beginning of a story, the wisp of a memory, a shy script for something I want to say to someone.

While in pencil, the words are erasable, forever changeable, and still belong to me alone. I use each one to its absolute end, until there's nothing left to hold. The pencil gives me its entire life. In return, I try to make it an honorable one.


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