I am trendy only by accident. Sometimes I’ve been in a place for years and the retro-seekers catch up. (Hats, for example.) Sometimes we arrive independently. It seems that I am no longer as alone in my passion for the Blackwing pencil as I was when its manufacture was ended. The choice of many illustrators from the 1930s on, it also attracted a fan base of writers (Steinbeck among them) and composers (Bernstein, Sondheim).
They are now manufactured by Palomino, and I have stocked up. I like to draft the stories I write by hand. As Sondheim points out, the soft pencils need frequent-enough sharpening to keep you from drowsing. And the sharpener itself is an impressive two-stage affair in which you first achieve a rough-hewn cone, then, in the second hole, hone it to a potentially lethal point.
I can’t say that it’s improved my writing. But it feels good to get away from the computer every now and then.