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(FDMFTR) Meanderings: Pens – the Good, the Bad, and the Blah

Pens – the Good, the Bad, and the Blah

By Jill Serendipity Behe

I am a pen collector.

But I’m not alone at that Pen-aholics meeting, and the majority of attendees are writers.

It doesn’t matter what kind of pen (fountain, ballpoint, gel, and all the other gotta-haves), only that it has ink. Pencils are okay, but they’re not as … attractive. Any trip to any store requires a stop in the stationery aisle, where the writing implements hang in silent invitation—command?—to take them home.

This, I’m sure, doesn’t apply to everyone who loves to collect pens, but I’ve gone overboard. Not sure when I became aware that this was a problem—and it was a problem–because I justified every purchase as acquiring necessary tools for my craft.

I need a lot of pens.

I’m a writer.

Writers need pens.

From the time I remember starting to write, I’ve always written every story, novel, blog post, out in longhand. Well, duh, can’t do that without a pen. I could type it up on the computer (which I do for the final phase), but it just doesn’t feel right, if I don’t put pen to paper, literally.

But this obsession with buying pens? It’s like an addiction. Is there a medical term/scientific name for the fear of running out of ink?

Purchasing paper (notebook paper, tablets) used to be a problem, too. I never seemed to have enough. And, oh man, when the back-to-school sales flyers came out … woo-hoo! I was in heaven!


Recently I moved abodes, and in preparing for that event, I had to downsize; a box of pens surfaced that I’d forgotten about. Each one was tested. About a third (gasp) had to be thrown out because the ink had dried. (A sad state, indeed, to have so many unused pens go to waste). I separated the remaining bunch into LIKE and DISLIKE piles. Of course, they were all likes, at one time. Still, the amount of pens destined for the yard sale made my heart beat faster. (Pathetic. Really.) It was hard, but I didn’t back down. Even those in the ‘to keep’ box will need to be sorted again.

Some day.

The compulsion to re-stock my stash has since been tempered, almost to the point of non-existence. I have favorites, but since becoming aware of the fixation, I can, and DO, resist the urge to pick up a pack any time I’m in a store.

The weirdest thing is that when I’ve used one from my preferred pens pen-holder, so long that it’s about to run out of ink, an imp in the back of my mind starts jumping, screaming, “Stop Stop Stop, you idiot! If it goes dry, you’ll have to throw it away, and then you won’t have it anymore. It’s your favorite, and nobody makes that kind anymore.”

Well, the imp is wrong, and needs to be ignored. Or kicked to the curb. I have so many pens left in that container, I’ll still be using them when I’m a 104.

All of us make decisions every day, and though buying pens isn’t life-threatening, there are consequences. For myself, I need to ask: Do you really need another pen, or two, or ten?

Pros and cons.

Right and wrong.

Good or bad.

No one can make our choices for us, though some people think they have that right. They only have that power if we give it to them–which is rarely a good thing. Sometimes we’d rather someone else made the executive decision, but ultimately, it’s up to us. We decide which path to take. Not choosing is a choice, too—and again, not usually a good one. We may come out looking selfish; friends and family may shake their heads. But we’re the ones who have to live with the decisions we make, so we might as well make sure they are the best, for us and anyone else involved.

At the top of the page, I ranted about the craving to keep adding to my collection. An innocuous thing, to be sure, but a major skirmish (the little angel on the right vs. the devil on the left) to resist buying packs of pens every time I set foot in a store.

Pens? Seriously?

For me, becoming aware of the pattern was the tipoff, and like any bad habit, it took a whole lot more effort to undo it than it did to begin—especially since I hadn’t even been aware it was something needing to be curbed. By acknowledging the problem, bringing it into perspective, and then making a choice to stop the behavior, I was able to halt—okay, significantly reduce—the irrational compulsion to purchase pens before it gets out of control.

If only it could be that simple for everything we face. But, it can be! YES, my habit may be minor in comparison to some, but still a struggle, and not my only bad habit. Buying pens isn’t a bad thing, but there comes a point where the amount being bought is ridiculous. And it didn’t become that way overnight, so it’s going to take a while to be completely free of its grip.

One moment, one baby step, one day at a time. Set a goal, never lose sight, and reach for it every single day. It’s the only way to cross the finish line.

Profitez de votre journée,

The Rebel

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