I have a favourite writing pen. Fat and turquoise blue, it is emblazoned with a Queensland Government advertising logo. Mr Blithe obtained it for me, knowing that I would like it. I like its weight, how easy it is to hold and its soft cushioned grip. I feel defiantly old-fashioned to be sitting at my dining table on an op shop chair, using a pen to write on paper. How retro. But it is quiet and quick. No waiting in the early morning semi-light for a computer to boot up. No whirs and beeps to disturb sleeping children. I simply pick up the pen that I stash in a spot hidden from family depredations, pull my thick notepad out from my “Mum’s-absolutely-not-to-be-touched” workbox and get to work. I have nothing against computers, no Luddite tendencies, no idealism about what constitutes “real” writing. It’s simply about practicality and actually getting some writing done.
Today my pen ran out of ink. I had another one identical to this, but I have either put it in too safe a spot or not put it in a safe enough spot. I looked at my pen in dismay. It ran out of ink in the middle of the sentence, right when Blithe Boy wandered in looking for me. I had a moment of disorientation. What could be wrong with my pen, why was Blithe Boy awake and what had I been writing only a moment before?
And then I realised something. I only use this pen for writing my novel so I have a new measure. Whenever people ask how the book is going, I can look at them and say “One pen’s worth so far.”