When I was a kid, Dad showed me a box of random items he had collected as a kid. Two things intrigued me: a little metal fish charm that he received in a Bible drill and a silver-gray pencil with a petrified eraser. That was the day that I began collecting pencils. Throughout junior high and high school, every time I went on a school trip, I filled my souvenir shopping cart with imprinted and novelty pencils. I never used them–they were sacred because they comprised a “collection.”
A few weeks ago, I gathered the collection from my school days and put some of the best ones in a glass jar for display in my office. Last night, I found a plastic bag full of the remains of pencils I used for my numerous writing expeditions. Today, I took those antique pencils to my classroom to bequeath freely to my students. My penchant for collecting pencils is now a legacy I can share with kids who are ready to write, but who lack the tools.
That, in fact, sums up my day job: I provide tools to young writers. When they are ready to write, I offer them a pencil.