On Pens and Keyboards

We writers are known for being picky about our writing tools. We’re always on the lookout for another notebook, another journal, even though we probably have a dozen empty ones at home. There’s something about holding a fresh, stiff-backed book in your hands, cracking it open and smoothing the first blank page before taking a pen or pencil and writing the first word.

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We don’t need all these right now…but maybe one day! That’s reason enough to buy them, right?

If I’m picky about my notebooks, though, I’m downright discriminating about my pens. Regular Bic stick pens are too narrow for me. Dr. Grips are too thick. This one’s ink is more gray than black. This one has a 0.7mm tip instead of 0.5mm. The shade of this blue isn’t the same as my old pen. The list goes on… It probably seems unnecessary, but if I’m going to use the same pen (or the same brand of pens) for a year, then it better write well. And there’s nothing quite like the feel of writing with a comfortable, high-quality pen.

When I was shopping around for my desktop, I knew I would have a similar deliberation about the keyboard. I don’t like the chunky ones with half-inch travels. And some chiclet keyboards and I don’t get along; they don’t yield enough, if that makes sense. I was lucky with my laptop’s keyboard in that it was a chiclet, but had curved keys for comfort. It was moderately quiet, too, which is necessary for a writer who sometimes wakes up early and writes in bed next to her fiance and doesn’t want to go downstairs because the bed is so warm — Oh, right. Keyboards.

Of course the keyboard that came with the desktop was intolerable. The keys were stiff, sort of in between chiclet and standard mid-2000’s keyboard. Part of me had hoped the standard keyboard would have been more comfortable than a brick, but another part of me had held no such delusions. So I went to the store and tried out keyboards…

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The Logitech K740

…and found this beauty.

Full keyboard with the number pad. Palm rest. Carbon black with satin finish. Adjustable backlight. Space-age labels. And the keys! It was as if someone had bottled that fancy-pen-on-paper feeling and poured it onto the key fixtures. The travel was smooth, the surface had a touch of concavity, and the keys were quiet and yet still satisfying. I bought it — of course I did. How could I let such perfection slip away? (And it was on sale. Almost as if I was meant to have it.)

I know focusing on the physical tools of my craft is just another way to procrastinate — I can’t write until I have the perfect paper! the perfect pen! the perfect keyboard and word processor layout! — but, man, is it fun to obsess over the little details of material objects that don’t have any real bearing on the quality of my art. Peace.

 

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