I’m about a month into my contribution to the pencilblogosphere and my interest hasn’t waned. In my personal experience, that’s been kind of the threshold for whether or not a blogging project will sustain itself long-term, or just be a passing thing that falls to the wayside as I move on to rambling about a new topic.
I also received a mention on Bleistift, a pencil blog that is on my personal routine reading list, as well as a kind note from its author. That was followed by a bit of actual traffic and comments to the Polar Pencil Pusher blog. So, I take those as two signs that this blog might actually become “a thing”, as the kids say. Lately, due to these milestones, I have been thinking about where things may go with this blog, and decided to note some of those thoughts here.
Pencils have become kind of a compulsive thing for me. I’m feeling a few competing urges. On the one hand, I feel like I need to amass as many pencils as possible, as quickly as possible, and fill this blog with all sorts of original content. I’m excited to get going. I’ve got so many pencils backing up waiting to be used, and if I don’t make some of them disappear I’m afraid my partner is going to throw me out. It’s also just a lot of fun to take the photos, write notes, and go through the process of doing reviews — not to mention, get packages in the mail all the time.
On the other hand, I am also feeling an urge to slow my roll. I’m realizing that to actually get to know a pencil, you’ve got to spend some time with it; at least a week, probably more. For one thing, it takes about that long for me to use an entire wood-cased pencil down to the stub, which is important for evaluating the quality and strength of the core. Of course, there’s also the fact that over time first impressions wear off and a more nuanced opinion forms, and more subtle characteristics come to the surface.
Then there’s the thought that if I go too fast I might actually run out of stuff to review. One pencil review a week equals 52 different pencils in a year. How many product lines are out there? I don’t want to go too fast. But then again, looking at my to-review drawer, and my wish lists on Amazon and AliExpress, I could probably keep going for a while at that rate.
I think maybe one potential solution is to branch out into other supplies — notebooks, erasers, and sharpeners are a few I’ve already dabbled in that seem promising and not too scattered from the main theme of this blog — so I’ve got some other sources of material. Obviously I can also review them simultaneously with pencils. And then there are other post topics that I’ve broached such as journaling, reading, and really anything “analog”. Or, you know, random brain dump posts like this one.
Beyond the hurry up/slow down conflict, another part of me has this weird feeling — almost a fear — that I’m going to discover that most pencils are pretty much the same and I’ve spent a bunch of time and money writing about minute variations in otherwise identical objects. But rationally I don’t think that’s true. I can tell the difference. I’m also having fun. And if that’s the conclusion this project leads me to, well, at least I’ll have gotten this all out of my system and I can just fall back on the lifetime supply of pencils I’ve amassed.
I am really enjoying branching out and sampling pencils from the world over. Although my published content isn’t exactly voluminous at this point, I have several half-completed or rough-notes-form drafts that I’m working on, and a whole drawer full of pencils that I haven’t even touched yet. I’m feeling the desire to cast an even wider net and see if I can find some pencils from even further-flung places. A majority of my pencils originate from Asia, for a few reasons: I recently traveled to Asia, many pencil companies from other countries produce product lines there, and Chinese companies have a big export market that is easy for me to tap into via websites like AliExpress. Of course, I have a substantial amount of North American pencils (since I live there) and west European ones, since they seem to be widely distributed.
But I know there’s more out there. Latin America? The Middle East? Africa? Eastern Europe? I know someone must be making pencils in those countries. I imagine that this is especially true in countries that don’t necessarily have the best relationship with the west; for example, I’m sure Iranian people use pencils but due to politics may not be writing with the same pencil brands those of us in the United States are familiar with. So the question is…how do I get my hands on some? I’m a little bit stumped regarding how to approach it, but I feel like it will be fun and rewarding if I can tap into a new supply.
Part of me feels like I need to review at least one really, truly awful pencil so I can be objective and get a better handle on what the range of quality out there looks like. So far most of my AliExpress cheapo buys have actually been pretty decent, though.
I think one great thing about doing a pencil and office supplies blog is that it has a symbiotic relationship with my “day job”. Other blogs and personal projects have often been at odds with my career. Hobbies tend to distract me from my work and vice-versa. But I work in an office, so obviously office supplies are relevant to my job, and I have heavily incorporated handwriting into my professional workflow. Blogging motivates me to write, and one way I can write is to work. Maybe it also tricks my mind into thinking I’m doing a hobby when I’m actually doing the 9-to-5. So, that is another reason I see that this blog has long-term potential; it’s not one more thing I need to make time for during the scarce hours of the day.
Anyway, I think I’ll stick with it for a bit and see what happens! For the few of you who have stumbled onto this blog in its infancy, thanks for reading. Stick around. There’s more stuff coming.