Toys in the Atelier

Foolishly Annie Dillard once said all a writer needs is something to write with, to write on and knee for a desk.
Boy was she wrong.
In fact, she told me years later that writers need all those things, to be sure, but mostly and assuredly writers need a warehouse because writers are hoarders by vocation. Writers gather information like squirrels purloining their vittles for winter. Files, reference books, dartboards, jars of half-used pencils, coffee mugs with cold festering coffee; a desk, bookshelves a-groaning; a lamp or two, posters of Stephen King and Nora Roberts; a Neil Gaiman doll. All these things require space alongside the writer for a writer is never too sure when she’ll need that special book to refer to, or an old article to retrieve or a favorite passage to draw inspiration. For writers lightning doesn’t come in jars — it strikes and you better be on your game. Kubla Khan anyone? Not that any of us are on laudinum. What? What are you looking at?
For me, I long ago gave up pretending my writing life did not include the prerequiste adoration of the tools of the trade; I have the toys in my atelier — lots of them. For years I fooshingly told anyone who cared to listen that all I needed…
Oh yeah.
So when I tell you I have fourteen manual typewriters, three electric typewriters; one desktop; a laptop; an iPad; too many journals to count, thirty fountain pens, about as many pots of ink (pots, sounds like I’m Herman Melville, but really all I mean are small jars, but pots sounds all the better) you will know this madness is honed by experience because I use them. I use them all. True. Ask my friends.
I tend to write every day with a fountain pen, with purple ink, in a journal. Over time I generate material, and start putting it all together, and type it out on old computer dot matrix paper (you know the kind with the printer feed strips on the sides) on one of my typewriters, usually my 1935 Standard No. 6 Underwood. I type standing up. From there, I get to sit down in great luxery in front of my Mac Air laptop or 27″ iMac desktop to tap out my Qwerty prose.
We tend to set up a lot of barriers to sitting down and writing and for a long time I thought I couldn’t write without that special pen or the right word processing software — that was horse hockey; of course I could, but now I know that spending an inordinate amount of time for a man my age in my basement while the sun shines outside and other people are exercising, getting great tans and sculpted calves and biceps, there’s nothing wrong with having a few toys in the atelier.
Whew that’s a long last sentece. I’ll erase it with one of my Hello Kitty erasers imported from Japan.
What? What are you looking at?

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