Which pen should I write with today? It always takes me a while to decide. I review my collection of pens carefully, rolling each in my hand and deciding which has the best fit. Thin or thick point? Blue or black ink? I’m finally happy with my choices, so I dive right in, opening my notebook and feverishly writing. My thoughts are spilling forth so quickly that I can just about keep up. Once finished, I proof read it over and over, agonizing over the proper grammar and just the right words to use. And, when it’s perfect, I read it out loud twice. Then, I rip it up into tiny little pieces and throw it away.
In ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia, the need to maintain history and culture, disseminate knowledge, form legal systems and correspond were all motivations for writing. My motivation is much simpler; I use it as an emotional outlet. Pouring my heart out onto those pages is the healthiest way I have found to release me from feelings that might haunt me if I let them.
As a teenager, I thought of myself as quite cunning. I had devised a way to keep a diary that was 100 percent secure from ever being read. I would use this practice as an extension of positive thinking by writing a letter to a friend and telling them of my good fortune, detailing what it was that I wanted to happen. My anger, jealousy or sadness would be directed to its source with every element itemized and accounted for. Every decision I contemplated was documented on a folded sheet of paper noting pros and cons at its top.
As time went on, the subjects became more complex, but the ritual remained the same. The pen preferences make the process something special. The actual writing forces me to gather my thoughts and disciplines me to be precise and thorough. The ceremonial feel of reading the words out loud and then physically ripping up the paper always gives me a sense of power, of being in control over the situation (whether I really am or not).