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August 30, 2010

The pen thief

The pen is mightier than the sword...

We've all heard about how the pen is mightier than the sword. I'm sure those words were very comforting to many a tonsured scribe in centuries gone past when faced with a huge, sweaty, chain mail wearing knight.

What I'm not so sure about is how one can ever redeem oneself if one has stolen a pen - the writer's tool of choice - from someone who makes their living from writing.

I know we all use computers these days, so arguably, pens don't hold quite the revered place they once did...but still. Stealing a pen from a writer is kind of like stealing pension money from old ladies. Just one of those things you should never ever do.

Now before you go assuming that I'm something that I'm not, I should clarify that I am not the pen thief. And in her defense, the pen thief is only three years old. But I was the one left holding the pen, so I suppose that makes me, um, implicated.

It all started out very innocently, with me arriving at a book signing event, small child in tow. I'd mentioned to her before going inside that I had my notebook in my bag.

"There will be people there that you don't know," I told her, "but you don't have to be nervous. If you don't want to talk to anyone, you can sit down in a corner and quietly do some drawing while mummy talks with the grown-ups."

I didn't realise that she was actually listening to me for a change.

We ventured inside, and the two authors, Tracey O'Hara and Nalini Singh were already there. Not surprisingly (seeing as it was a signing by two urban fantasy authors at a specialist sci-fi/fantasy bookshop) there were no other children in sight, and my daughter hung back as I went toward the table where the signing was taking place.

An illustration of Cardinal Richelieu holding ...Image via Wikipedia
Cardinal Richelieu with sword...but I'll bet he never tried sticking it in his mouth.
I swear I only turned my back on her for a minute, but next thing I knew, she was in tears, and I turned to find her clutching the notebook from my handbag, and a pen - with which she'd just stabbed herself in the mouth. (This just goes to show how dangerous pens really are.) Seeing no graceful way of handling a difficult situation, I scooped her up and made a hasty exit.

It wasn't until I got home and was rummaging through my bag for some unrelated purpose, that I found an unfamiliar pen. It was the same pen which had been implicated in the mouth-stabbing incident, and as I'd been a little distracted at the time, I'd just assumed that both notebook and pen had been taken out of my bag. It wouldn't have been the first time, and I know she knows where they are.

Instead, my accomplished three year old had quietly lifted the pen lying unused on the authors' signing table - right from under all our noses.

Now I'm the somewhat guilty owner of a blue plastic pen from Sydney's Crowne Plaza Hotel at Coogee, where both Tracey O'Hara and Nalini Singh had just spent the weekend as part of the RWAustralia annual conference.

If pens are so mighty and all, maybe they bear amulet-like powers of creation - which begs the question; have I now got New York Times bestselling Nalini Singh's writing mojo? Or perhaps Tracey O'Hara's?

I'm thinking of writing longhand with my new blue pen for the next little while...just in case.

Oh, and if I ever see either author again, I'll give the pen back. Promise.


Virago Girl said...

Adina - this made me laugh. Especially as my toddler son commenced his career as a shoplifter the other day...Freddo frogs slip into little boys pockets as easily as blue pens slip into Mama's handbags!

Adina West said...

Ooops! I know, and given the frequency with which they see things coming in and out of our handbags I'm sure a bit of merchandise acquisition now and then seems completely normal to them...

The big question: did you go back and pay for the Freddo frog or was the whole thing too embarrassing? (you don't have to answer that)


Rachael Harrie said...

What a funny story, Adina!!! :) I've been through something similar with my little one as well. Here's hoping you pick up some New York Times bestseller vibes from said pen - perhaps you could make it your muse... :)

Rebecca said...

I think the one who lifts the pen gets the mojo, a three year old with best seller capabilities....

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