How Pencils Changed My Life

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So recently I bought a mechanical pencil. Now I know this may sound uneventful, but it was a really good one. It was like…precise and stuff. It made me feel all…arty again.

And it’s strange because it incited a whole train of thought within me (yes I am strange).

I hadn’t really thought about it before, but the invention of the common pencil has defined most of my creative endeavors. Since..forever.

I’m talking about my childhood, my past and even now. The pencil has always been there for me. A trusty friend.

In fact, I’m certain that the common pencil hasn’t been very far away during the most challenging, happiest and most heartbreaking moments of my life.

Today I did a little research and discovered that the common pencil has origins as far back as the 1500’s. Its travelled genesis begins from all over the world; from the Romans, English and Americas.

But what is a pencil really?

I don’t mean it in a literal elementary sense. I mean what does it represent.

I can honestly say, the earliest memory I have of using a pencil was when I was a toddler. I used to draw on the walls constantly..and thank goodness..my mother allowed me to do it in some areas (in other areas she obviously didn’t!).

It was a form of release I am sure (plus a little defiance and growing feelings of independence mixed in)

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Why?

Well I think it has something to do with dreams.

Whatever I could think of, I could immediately make a reality. Now for a boy like me, that enjoyed stories, science fiction and writing; this meant the world to me.

It meant I could translate whatever was in my head, to something concrete, solid and real. Instantly.

Stories are dreams. In mythology, stories were thought to be just that. They were also cautionary tales to make sense of the Universe; to make the non tangible real. That was what I could do. Make my dreams real.

I cannot honestly remember a time I didn’t use a pencil for something.

When I was in primary school I wrote my first short story about an alien infestation on Earth. My teacher liked to print little paper booklets — that were blank — and allowed anyone to pick one up and start a story, at anytime of the day.

This is the single most brilliant teaching technique I have ever seen.

I wrote a blatant rip-off of the X-Files, which was the ‘in’ show at that time (and a show I shouldn’t really know about at my age). My best friend was a fan of the show, and fed me all the gory details.

I had no idea what a ‘Grey’ was – but I enjoyed penning down the aliens thoughts and the terrified humans that crossed his path.

When I had to finish an English project – a story about an adventure – but really didn’t want to because I wanted to go out and play, I took to drawing it out first.

After I had drawn the mountainous valleys, the dangerous sand pits and the tools my adventurer would need, the words came easily. That and my mothers ‘sit down and bloody do it’ approach.

When I won a small class prize for a Kenya Research project whilst in Year 4 – I remember the most fun I had was drawing the landscape of Africa and all its wonderful flora and fauna.

I drew constantly throughout my childhood, and I have literally hundreds of fond memories of drawing. Even some that are wrought with pain.

When my dad passed away when I was 13, I sought to tell more stories. I drew pictures of him, my family and the stories that were in my head like never before.

It helped me get over what was churning and bubbling inside; an overwhelming sense of loss.

Never underestimate the power of sketching, doodling and making things up. I know that some parents nowadays don’t see the point in it. They don’t see a future in it.

For me, drawing is a part of who I am.  Pencils are a part of that.

Pencils and drawing represent freedom. The creative, emotional and the physical.

Now, at 25, I am still drawing. I think there will never be a time where I will not use a pencil and draw.

Computers are great…but there just isn’t that sense of connectivity when you draw on a computer in my opinion. That sense of intimacy.

I’m also drawing right now, using this new mechanical pencil to pen down some character sketches & ideas for a concept I am developing.

Don’t forget the pencils. They are just as mighty as the pen and sword too.

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2 thoughts on “How Pencils Changed My Life

  1. Love this write up Kane. Your last sentence says it all for the pencil. I like that picture of you in diapers writing on the wall. Who took the picture? Proof for later in the years? I think you had a very wonderful teacher to encourage expression in writing or drawing. Keep on writing Kane. I’ll keep on reading it. Get your memoirs published. They are really good.

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