The Unintended Circumstance of Life with Only 4 Pens

(Jeff Abbott is a regular contributor at The Pen Addict. You can find more from Jeff online at Draft Evolution and Twitter.)

At the end of May, our house was entirely packed up and we were ready to start our journey from Huntsville, Alabama to Berkeley, California. 2,700 miles, 35 hours, and several days of driving, not including stops.

The journey across several vast states was a welcome experience. When you grow up and stay in a particular part of the country for very long, everything around you becomes normal. A massive shake up is good for everyone, and I was excited about the imminent displaced feelings and excitement for the unknown.

As it happened, I packed everything but the essentials. Our storage container was picked up about 5 days before we left home, so we were mostly camping inside our house for that week. Included in the storage container was my collection of pens, inks, paper, as well as all of my camera equipment. I don't remember consciously making the decision to pack all of that stuff in the container, but that's where it ended up when the big push came.

What's a pen addict to do when the collection is taken away, along with the ability to order new stuff to a soon-to-be expired address? Well, in my case: I get to use whatever my absent-minded self forgot to pack in the container. Really, it's like a pen/paper/ink lottery.

When I collected the items that managed to escape the storage container, I was pretty pleased with the resulting limitations. Here's a list of what I currently have with me as we stay in hotels and look for permanent residences in California:




Not a bad roster to be stuck with, right? Still, it's so much less than I'm used to having within arm's reach at my desk (oh man, I'd love to have my desk back too). I don't have any of my fancy pens, none of my inks or refills, and none of my more niche-purpose notebooks.

It's not ideal, but when I look around and realize what's happening, pens and paper don't really seem important. My wife and I are starting a new chapter in a different part of the country and trying to settle down and start a new life. The fancy pens and paper are doing just fine in their storage container (I hope). There's so much in life that's far more important than writing instruments and stationery.

But, I miss the hobby — the pastime. People aren't very interesting without their interests, and pens/writing was a big part of that for me. I also miss having my nice camera with me, but my iPhone takes decent pictures. It's been fun living with the limitation of just a handful of pens and paper that I must use. When you remove the labor of choosing, it's so much easier to sit down and write.

So, fellow pen addicts, I challenge you to pick out a small set of pens and paper for a month and restrict yourself from changing it up. Did one of the pens run out of ink? Oops. If you can't replace it at Target or Staples, then you're out of luck! It's a fun exercise and one that I hope brings focus back to the point of these fun tools — writing.

Posted on June 17, 2015 and filed under General.