Got Ink?

So this month, the shared topic for the Rocket City Bloggers’ “carnival” is “your favorite tool.”

It’s proven to be a challenging topic. What to write about?

Certainly, a leading contender would be my iPhone. I’ve written before about how life-changing it is — how, with it, I’m basically a cyborg.

There’s a good case to be made that I should write about one of the amazing Pampered Chef tools I sell, and, to be sure, they are pretty awesome. Or, along a similar vein, my Foreman grill, with which I produce much tastiness.

But the truth is, as hard as it is to imagine now, I’ve lived without those things.

I couldn’t imagine living without a pen.

I have at least one with me always, and have for as long as I can remember. Back when I was starting my newspaper career, not only was my iPhone unimaginable, even a cell phone was years away. But I always carried a pen.

Today, I carry three. I’ve always carried at least two, in case one died, and now added a third one for when I need a different color. The exact type has changed over the years — for a while, one was a disposable fountain pen, and another was purely dedicated to signing books. In general, I like my pens cheap enough to lose, but not too cheap to write with comfortably. A smooth rollerball is vital.

Over the years, some of my pens’ duties have been usurped. When I started college, I would compose in ink. Now, that’s almost unheard of, as the way I’ve written has changed. Today, even just simple note-taking is done on my phone far more often than scratch paper.

But ink still has a power that a digital device doesn’t. When I write a check or sign a credit card receipt, ink gives the paper the authority of my name. I could write the most moving letter I could come up with in e-mail, but there’s still something intimate and meaningful about conveying the same message in handwriting, particularly as the written word becomes more and more rare.

As a writer, it’s easy to see the pen as a totem for myself, a physical representation of my identity. But it’s more than just a symbol — whether it’s a signature on a check or a heartfelt note, ink still captures and embodies “me” in a way few things can.