Needs, Wants, and Pretty Blue Pens

Billy Coffey Guest Blogger: Billy Coffey

It was my wife—God bless her—who said I was insane. And not only was I insane, but probably all the people in the world who called themselves writers were too. Certifiable. In need of round the clock psychological care and Thorazine milkshakes.

It was the pens, you see. She was going to the store, and I asked her to pick me up some pens. In my wife’s defense, I didn’t specify what sort of pens. And in my defense, I didn’t think I had to. We’ve been married for fifteen years. She’s seen me write before.

But she brought home black pens. I thought it was a joke at first. I even laughed. My wife didn’t call me insane then, but I bet the thought had crossed her mind.

Blue pens, I told her. I needed blue pens. Because blue ink produced the best words and black ink undermined creativity and the flow of artistic expression. How could anyone not know that? That’s when the insane comment was voiced. Jokingly, of course. Maybe half-jokingly. Which was followed by this:

“The problem isn’t black pens, it’s that you can’t tell the difference between what you want and what you need.

Of course I disagreed. It’s a pride thing. But as the day wore on and I kept staring at my pack of black pens, I began to see she was right. As a writer, I don’t really have needs and wants. I just have needs.

Paper AngelsIn the beginning there is rarely confusion between the two. When we decide we want to be writers, we just want to write. Life is simple because what we want is exactly what we need. We’re like babies then. And like babies, we believe the world to be both magical and ours.

But then we grow up and decide to get serious about writing. That’s when we realize the world isn’t ours to have as much as it is ours to borrow, and what was once magical can often become downright scary.

Trust me. I was there. Still am, too.

It starts out with needing to tell a story and then evolves into wanting to be published. Then from wanting to be published to needing an agent. It wasn’t that long ago that I told myself if I could only catch Rachelle Gardner’s attention, if she would only be my agent, then I would be a writer. That’s what I needed.

When that happened, I thought I needed a publisher, and when that happened I thought I needed a multi-book contract, and when that happened I thought I needed a bigger multi-book contract, and then somewhere in there my wife called me insane. Because as it turns out, those weren’t needs at all.

There are lessons that can be learned by heeding the experiences of others and lessons that can only be learned through one’s own failure. I’m pretty sure what I’m about to say falls under the latter, but I’m going to say it anyway:

Snow DayIf you are a writer and if you are reading this, you already have the essentials of success. The great secret is that the agents and the publishers and the book deals are just wants. Sure, you should go for them. Shoot for the moon. Dream big. Have faith. But know that being denied a want isn’t nearly as bad as failing to meet a need. Thankfully, as writers our needs are few.

We need a story to tell and a longing to tell that story in the best way possible. We need someone to tell that story to. And we need a determination to get up just one more time than we fall down.

That’s it. Meet those needs, and the wants will come. That’s not to say we’ll never be called insane, even if black ink makes the same words as blue ink. We’re writers after all. We don’t have to make sense all the time. Our hearts are bowed toward the hidden lands.

What do you want? What do you need?


Billy Coffey is the author of Paper Angels and Snow Day, both from Faithwords. Visit him on Twitter, Facebook, or

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Books & Such Literary Agency. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  6. P. J. Casselman on February 11, 2012 at 8:36 PM

    Billy, I just thought you might want to hear this. I recommended your book a while back to my reading group. They are now posting quotes from it on Facebook. I thought that was pretty cool. Here’s one I saw just today-

    The Lord sits with us and looks deep inside to our hidden self, He smiles and deems us worthy of a smile. He takes our brokeness and pieces it back together with gentleness and returns it remade with purpose and meaning. That helps us to understand what matters most. Paper Angels by Billy Coffey

    • Billy Coffey on February 11, 2012 at 11:20 PM

      Thanks so much, P.J. That made me smile.

  7. Cher Green on January 27, 2012 at 8:32 PM

    What a wonderful post! Very touching.

  8. Becky on January 19, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    What I’m taking from this…meet a need and the wants will come. Genius! True! Thank you.

  9. Nuku on January 17, 2012 at 8:24 PM

    I didn’t have time to read all the posts, but I just wanted to say to all you pen people out there, you’re wrong!
    Pencils are what makes it come alive! Mechanical if you can, but an ordinary 2HB school pencil’ll do in a pinch.
    At least this way, if you make a mistake in your writing, you don’t have to search for the white-out, or throw away the page! Ha, Ha!
    So anyway, thank you for the post, sir!

  10. Ainsley Shay on January 14, 2012 at 1:45 PM

    This is one of the best posts I’ve read.

    Thank you

  11. Alisha Gabriel on January 14, 2012 at 9:53 AM

    Thank you for your post. It puts things into perspective.
    I NEED to revise my middle grade nonfiction manuscript to make it more accessible to readers in the target age. I WANT it to be published, but I’ll use the information with my students regardless.
    Thanks again!

  12. colleen laquay urbaniuk on January 13, 2012 at 10:53 PM

    though i can write on anything (scrap paper, napkin, back of envelope, receipts) and i can write with anything (pen, pencils, crayons,markers)that doesn’t mean i don’t have a preference, because i do. to me, there’s nothing better than a smooth flowing pen (it doesn’t matter the color) and some blank paper (not too thin, not too thick, with crisp clear lines and bound in a journal). while typing on my laptop is convenient, there’s nothing like going back and flipping through the pages of a book hoping one day that someone will be flipping through the pages of your book. thanks for a great post. i’m glad i’m not the only crazy one!!!

  13. Hazel Moon on January 13, 2012 at 6:07 PM

    It is nice to know that I am not insane. It never occured to me to write with blue ink. I keep paper and black pens in my purse when I am out waiting somewhere to jot down thoughts. My blog writing is done on my computer. Now you have got me thinking — I NEED or WANT to get me some blue pens – – maybe they will improve my writing.

  14. ginny martyn on January 13, 2012 at 5:59 PM

    stationary obsession is part of the gig.

  15. ginny martyn on January 13, 2012 at 5:58 PM

    …and people without a pen preference are not writers.

  16. ginny martyn on January 13, 2012 at 5:57 PM


  17. Kathleen Pooler on January 13, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    You captured my writer’s heart here,Billy. Most of my work is on my laptop and when I need a pen, it’s usually whatever one I can find. The key for me,embrace my “inner insanity” and keep writing my heart out. Thanks for a great post!

  18. donkimrey on January 13, 2012 at 1:51 PM

    Instead of the author and his agent, perhaps I should have said the Agent and her client.

  19. donkimrey on January 13, 2012 at 1:50 PM

    Good job! On the part of the author and his agent. Very nice work. Judging by the responses, you encourage and challenge a lot of people. Both of you can take pride in that fact. donkimrey

  20. Crystal L Barnes on January 13, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Wonderful post. We always need the reminders that will keep our feet planted and help us learn from others’ experiences. May God bless us as we pursue our callings to lift others up with the words He gives us to write.

  21. Alice Shevitz on January 13, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Blue ink is definitely best for writing. On my desk, in front are me, are a variety of pens. I have a (small) obsession about my writing pens. Maybe even OCD. Can’t even write my grocery list without just the right pen!

    I know it’s crazy but here’s where I indulge myself in my craziness. There are certain colors best for certain writing. Blue ink is best for creative writing, especially the blue-ink disposable “fountain pens”. Yes, disposable fountain pens! I have to order them on-line, but they are simply the best. They write smoothly and come in different colors. They last forever, if you write as little as I do, but the ink flows smoothly and the nibs aren’t scratchy.

    Now, there. Not too up tight about my writing instruments, huh?

    I could go into my writing preferences for other types of writing, but don’t want to bore you or have you think that I’m truly crazy.

    Great blog, Billy! Nice to know that others share my obsession, or, excuse me, my want! 🙂

  22. Peter G. James Sinclair on January 12, 2012 at 10:08 PM

    How about this…..I want to be needed and I need to be wanted. The joy of humanity I guess! Thanks for the insight.

  23. Amber Argyle on January 12, 2012 at 9:08 PM

    I type 75 words a minute. Handwritting is waaaay too slow. I simply don’t have the patience to handwrite something (spoiled, I know).

  24. Peter DeHaan on January 12, 2012 at 6:16 PM

    Silly me, I am happy with any pen that works — as long as it works well.

    Granted that I do very little of my “writing” with a pen, opting for a computer instead. The only time a pen is used is those occasional times when I actually proof on paper.

  25. Beth MacKinney on January 12, 2012 at 4:45 PM

    First of all, you need different writing apparatus for different tasks.

    When I’m writing flat out, I use a MacBook Pro laptop. Portable, user-friendly, and loaded with encouraging ambiance.

    When I’m playing around, I find that black semi-opaque barrel Papermates or possibly a 0.7 mm mechanical pencils are best for me, depending on my mood and the weather.

    When I’m taking notes from a book on writing, I have to use the black Bic round stic fine line pens. I find the others stilt my ability to take in new information and make me feel confused.

    (I also suggest that you only buy the Crayola crayons with the sharpener on the back for your kids. You could set them back developmentally otherwise.)

  26. Nikki on January 12, 2012 at 4:39 PM

    I love this! 🙂 Purple pens are my preference, then blue, then black, if I must. Never red. But it’s not about the color of the ink, but the color of the personality and giftings that flow. The color of the atmosphere that takes form when the magic of ink hits paper… It is magical, it is. 🙂 No matter what color.

  27. Samuel on January 12, 2012 at 4:19 PM

    Blue ink pens most certainly do make better words than black ink. Everyone knows that.

  28. Yvonne Hertzberger on January 12, 2012 at 4:09 PM

    Pens????I need pens??!!? And I was so glad when I discovered the computer. Do I REALLY HAVE to use PENS? I quit.! lol

  29. Cherry Odelberg on January 12, 2012 at 3:49 PM

    Nice touching of the heart; deep in the writer’s heart.

    I need to write the story. I need daily sustenance.

    It does not much matter to me whether the ink be blue, black, pencil, dinosaur desktop or laptop.

    I want to earn the daily sustenance via the writing and my music

    I need a proper amount of solitude.
    I want encouragement and affirmation.

  30. Dayle on January 12, 2012 at 3:46 PM


    Ever since we “met”, you’ve always found a way to my heart with your words. This post is a lot deeper than blue ink, but then you already know that.

    As for what I need as a writer, apparently, a blue pen.

    Kind regards,

  31. Vera Soroka on January 12, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    What is with you pen people? You can’t erase pen. I must write with pencil. My favorite is mechanical pencils and pencil sharpeners. They’re fun to play with. I’m wierd, I know it.

  32. Jillian Kent on January 12, 2012 at 2:57 PM

    Hey Billy and Writing Buds,
    Nice post! I’ve got one possible answer for those of you who actually like black ink but your creative juices need some color. I buy, The Write Dudes. If you Google them you’ll find all kinds but my specific love is the 4 pack of burgundy, silver, blue, and black colors on the outside but black ink on the inside. But when I do concept mapping for my characters I use the colored ink. Here’s a link I think you’ll like to, The Write Dudes Super Smooth Retractable Ballpoint Pen.

    And I want a vacation, but I need to meet a deadline. But I need the vacation too, but I need to be at the day job. Sigh. This is harder than I first thought.

  33. Flower Patch Farmgirl on January 12, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    I adore this post, its every sentiment and each dang word. I’ve know almost nothing about you, Billy Coffey, but you’re a great writer. I’m off to find your books.

    ps – Fantastic covers and titles, too.

  34. Joseph Baran on January 12, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    Being writers, it would be good if we could turn back the time with our writing and undo the evil that was done. But we can’t.

  35. Joe Pote on January 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    Excellent post!

    And yes, in the writing and publishing world, the lines between needs and wants is easily blurred.

    I need to share my thoughts with other people. I want to share my thoguhts with LOTS of other people. In order to do that, I need a bigger platform.

    I don’t really even want a bigger platform, I just need it to get what I do want…a bigger audience.

    Oh, and I don’t use pens, much. I made the transition, years ago, to preferring the computer keyboard…but I am pretty darn pick about fonts, font size, etc…

    Thanks for the thought-provoking post!

  36. Katherine Bolger Hyde on January 12, 2012 at 2:25 PM

    I agree with almost everything you said. Only you got the words “blue” and “black” reversed. Everyone knows it’s completely impossible to write with a blue pen if you’re out of high school.

  37. Janet on January 12, 2012 at 2:00 PM

    “If you are a writer and if you are reading this, you already have the essentials of success.” – Billy Coffey

    Billy, thank you for these words. What a nice reminder not to take ourselves so seriously. I owe you a million blue pens.

    I knew I liked you when I met you on Twitter. Now I’m convinced you’re a great guy. And, hey, don’t be concerned about that “insane” label. If we were the standard version of “normal,” we wouldn’t be writers. Personall, I prefer the term “special.”

  38. Marilyn Groves on January 12, 2012 at 1:58 PM

    For me, want and need have become inextricable from each other and from writing. I write for the love of it but the more involved I have become in my writing, the more I now want/need to find an agent who likes my work. But it’s a pleasurable pain in a sense, because the love for writing is still at the bottom of it and all is therefore the self motivation to keep going. I do it around a full time job. Following the advice from Rachell to find extra time in the holiday season; I have discovered the wee small hours of the morning and the sunrise (when it shows itself, this is from England!). I find this website and everything that’s said on it – utterly inspiring and reassuring. It’s like discovering you’re not alone in the Universe. Good fortune to us all. 🙂

  39. Jill on January 12, 2012 at 1:24 PM

    Some of the biggest confusions with wants and needs are the ones having to do with wanting to contribute more to the family and wanting to please others. When significant family members tell me that I should be making money off writing, or that I would find a way to be published if I were a real writer, it hurts. At that point, I wonder if writing itself has become a want. I want it, despite the fact that it doesn’t pay. I want it, even though I should find a job that contributes more to the family.

    Those are just my practical thoughts.

  40. Connie Read Burris on January 12, 2012 at 1:19 PM

    Beautiful and well-written. How do I know? It touched my heart. Nice to meet you, Billy Coffey!

  41. Patti Richter on January 12, 2012 at 1:10 PM

    I loved this great post–thanks Billy (and Rachelle). I think the ink-thing is just a part of writer preference — desk or sofa, paper or screen. Whatever facilitates our best writing. Since most of my writing time is spent in self-editing, it’s paper and Pilot G-2 pens for me (gel just flows faster), in black or blue. But I’m curious, Billy. When you use a keyboard, do you set the ink color to blue??

    • Billy Coffey on January 12, 2012 at 1:47 PM

      Strangely enough, no. It has to be black when typing. And Times New Roman in a 12-point font. Anything else and I get all shaky inside.

  42. Brenda Quinn on January 12, 2012 at 12:45 PM

    Thank you, Billy. This is funny and beautiful and true.

  43. Donna Pyle on January 12, 2012 at 12:27 PM

    Billy, my friend, I must confess to the blue pen idiosyncracy myself. A specific brand in the “needle point fine” version. They rock my writing world. But they’re not a need, for sure. Great perspective here. Thanks!

  44. Rachelle Gardner on January 12, 2012 at 12:19 PM

    Okay, I’ll confess. While I do 99% of my work on the laptop, I occasionally need a pen – you know, for shopping lists and such.

    And when I need a pen, I choose… purple. Yep, I write in purple ink. All the time.

    In my list of daily needs, behind dark chocolate, dark coffee, and red wine, you can add Pilot G-2 07 pens in purple.

  45. Lyndie Blevins on January 12, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    A very encouraging post!

  46. Cynthia Herron on January 12, 2012 at 11:59 AM

    What I want? Post-it notes! Love ’em!

    What I need? More than four walls in my office to put them all on.

    Great post, Billy!

  47. joan Cimyotte on January 12, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I used to think I can only hand write my stories. Blue, black, green, it didn’t seem to matter. When I learned to type on an old Smith-Corona, I found hand writing took too long and typing was much faster. Now with my trusty white MacBook, my hands are mind melded into the machine, although I have a tendency to pound the delicate keys like my old typewriter.
    It would be great to be recognized as a decent writer. I would want that. It would be nice to be recognized as a decent artist. I would want that.
    I have everything I need. A bigger cash flow would be nice.
    Thanks for a great post.

  48. Crystal Laine Miller on January 12, 2012 at 11:30 AM

    I laughed out loud at Dr. Mabry’s comment. (He and my husband are the same on those points–and I get in trouble all the time for “stealing” his drug company pens which are soooo cool.)

    But it’s a good thing you posted today, Billy, because I didn’t know that I needed to get your books to read. Wow. I need them, I am pretty sure. Don’t tell my family.

    Fun post!

  49. Pam Halter on January 12, 2012 at 11:25 AM

    It’s funny, but with the push for black ink almost everywhere, when I pick up a blue ink pen without realizing it until I start to write, I pull back in surprise. Delighted surprise. I never thought about it, but I think I prefer blue ink.

    Of course, being left-handed, I pretty much smear any color ink on the paper and create an ink stain on the side of my hand, so I do most of my writing on the computer.

    Thanks for a great post!

  50. Barb on January 12, 2012 at 11:04 AM

    I love this post. But I must tell you….. I like to use my computer to write. So where does that leave me with black or blue? haha! Excellent post! Thank you.

  51. Deborah on January 12, 2012 at 11:01 AM

    I have always said that if we were all the same, we’d be bored to tears. So..
    When I’m not on my keyboard, it’s a Purple, Pentel RSVP fine point and a composition notebook.
    Thanks Billy for the smiles. 🙂

  52. Nicole on January 12, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Blue pens, hands down!

    Thanks for this encouraging, eloquent reminder of why we do what we do, and what truly matters.

  53. Kathryn Elliott on January 12, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Terrific post, Billy. Quick question – what’s the ice cream to Thorazine ratio? My husband is curious.

    • katdish on January 12, 2012 at 10:45 AM


  54. Holly Russell on January 12, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I seem to be the odd one out here. I don’t have a preference for the color of my pen, as long as I can find one, and as long as it writes well. In this household of six, pens disappear faster than chocolate (and all my children are girls). I agree, however, with your wife. All writers, and those with an artistic twist, are certifiably, insane. 🙂 I usually write on my computer, unless I am editing my printed MS, so pens do not come into play very often. What I can’t stand is a pen that doesn’t write well.

    As far as my needs, I just need some quiet blocks of time. Thank goodness I am not committed to deadlines yet.

  55. katdish on January 12, 2012 at 10:30 AM

    Now see, If it had been me, I would have just taken the caps off the pens and told you they were dark blue. Because seriously, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Mwha, ha ha!

  56. Sandra Heska King on January 12, 2012 at 10:24 AM

    I used to love those blue fountain pens with the cartridge thingies. They made me feel like such a writer. Can you even find those any more?

    Now I prefer those BIC disposable (gasp!) mechanical pencils for scribbling ideas and poetry.

    But mostly I’m in love with my new Mac keyboard.

    • Timothy Fish on January 12, 2012 at 11:32 AM

      Art supply/hobby stores usually carry them. You can also get pens to use with an inkwell.

      • Sandra Heska King on January 12, 2012 at 10:25 PM

        Inkwells = messy, yes? But I’m heading to the nearest hobby store. Thanks!

  57. Jessie on January 12, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Hmmm… I prefer blue pens, but do most of my writing on my computer. Maybe if I turned the font blue?

  58. Jan Drexler on January 12, 2012 at 10:10 AM

    Great post, and you’re right. Real needs are very few, and much time is wasted chasing “wants” that really don’t mean much.

    Blue or black ink? Meh.

    Keyboard, all the way. Pens, no matter what color, are too slow.

    Great for poetry, but stories get lost between my brain and the paper unless I’m at the computer.

    And I’ll always be thankful for my high school typing class!

  59. Heather Marsten on January 12, 2012 at 9:48 AM

    Blue or black don’t matter, I do like editing in red though. What I want is a pen that doesn’t gunk up at the tip. I like to underline in books I read and at times the ink gathers and leaves splotches. Any ideas on pens that don’t gunk up?

    Re goals, my biggest is to finish my memoir. My prayer is that people reading about the abuse I received, the occult paths I tried, the therapy, and then true healing in Christ will be encouraged. I want people to see that a real journey of healing is possible and hopefully, they will avoid the mistakes I made along the way.

    This was a great post. Thanks for sharing.

  60. Cathy West on January 12, 2012 at 9:31 AM

    Black pens for signing those books that will be published, but only if you write them on a Mac. 🙂
    I love the thought that this world is only ours to borrow. A beautiful post, Billy – poignant and filled with truth, as is your usual style. Thanks!

  61. CG Blake on January 12, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    Billy, thanks for sharing such an eloquent post. To answer your question, my needs as a writer are to find the drive, wisdom, knowledge, and skill to produce the best work I can. The rest is out of my hands,

  62. Marielena on January 12, 2012 at 9:27 AM

    A wonderful post, Billy. Thanks for reminding us of the difference between “wants” and “needs.”

    This morning, I really do “need” a cup of coffee so I can sit down and finish two freelance writing assignments (because I “need” to be paid.) I really “need” to keep revising my current novel because it’s a story I “need” to tell.

    As to my novel? Yes. I have all those “wants” you mentioned. An agent. Publication. Hey. Why not a best-seller? I’m shooting for the moon. Dreaming big. Having faith.

    But some days? My “wants” seem very distant. (At least until I’ve had my coffee!) 🙂 Here’s to another day of up-and-at-’em.

  63. Jackie Ley on January 12, 2012 at 9:25 AM

    Really appreciated this post, Billy but just want to pick up on one of the things you identify as a need for writers,’someone to tell your story to’. Without achieving the ‘wants’ of agent and publishing deal, we can’t satify that need of someone to tell our stories to.

    • Jackie Ley on January 12, 2012 at 9:27 AM

      Whoops, typo on ‘satisfy’ – should have used a blue pen!

  64. Susan L. Anderson on January 12, 2012 at 9:13 AM

    The blue pen title caught my attention. I’m the same. In fact, in a couple of essays I write about blue gel pens.
    “Blue”, after all is the color of heaven.
    Christian or not, as writers, we strive for faith, creating from the unseen, unspoken, unrecognized.
    Thank you. I have seen your titles before. Now I will give a closer look.
    Thanks Rachelle.

  65. Timothy Fish on January 12, 2012 at 9:09 AM

    I don’t really get this blue or black ink thing. I could maybe see it if it were green, or orange, or purple, but blue vs. black? Pretty much everyone uses one or the other. As others have said, I use a computer. Pens slow me down too much. I can type a page in the amount of time it would take me to pen a paragraph.

  66. Stephen H. King on January 12, 2012 at 8:49 AM

    Wonderful post, but pens are for scribbling in margins and for writing your name in the front of the book for a fan. The best words come through my keyboard into the print tray of my Lexmark Pinnacle Pro 901.

    As for color–meh. I survived the insane prejudice of colorism in the Army in its quest to rid the world of blue ink, and so now I’m good with any color but red. Unless, of course, I’m grading papers, in which case red (being the color that most intimidates students) is perfect.

    • Stephen H. King on January 12, 2012 at 8:50 AM

      Correction: writing MY name, not your name. Fans would look at me funny if I signed my book with your name.

      Funnier, that is.

  67. Heather Sunseri on January 12, 2012 at 8:38 AM

    Billy, you always inspire me to simply be me! This is a wonderful post. Thanks!!

  68. Richard Mabry on January 12, 2012 at 8:33 AM

    Billy, I must not have gotten the memo about blue vs black pens. During my medical education (back when the earth’s crust was cooling), we were told to write with black ink because it could be more easily read than blue. So, to this day, all my pens have black ink.
    Come to think of it, that doesn’t affect my work as a writer. I use the computer. If I hand-wrote my novels, no one could read them anyways.

  69. Katie Ganshert on January 12, 2012 at 8:24 AM

    Amazing post. Love!

  70. kiff on January 12, 2012 at 7:28 AM

    Thanks for your perspective Billy. All the best.

  71. Amy Sorrells on January 12, 2012 at 7:21 AM

    “Our hearts are bowed toward the hidden lands. Yep. Pretty much. Which is why I need sharpened pencils and a $1 composition notebook.

    Perfect, Billy. Truly.


  72. carol brill on January 12, 2012 at 7:16 AM

    Love the reminder that we need a determination to get up just one more time than we fall down. Thanks Billy.

    And my writing weapon of choice is a pencil – insanity or simply a commitment issue? 🙂

    • Veronica on January 12, 2012 at 5:23 PM

      Yay! A fellow pencil storywriter 🙂

      I can’t be creative unless I have my special story pencils in hand. My kids and husband have learned never to attempt to use my story pencils for mundane tasks like homework and to-do lists. We don’t want the story to leak out in the wrong place after all…

  73. Melissa Scott on January 12, 2012 at 6:56 AM

    Black pens are ony for filling out forms. Blue pens smile, inspire and spur on, this writer anyway! Great post, thank you!:) ~Melissa Scott /Realmom8

  74. keiki hendrix on January 12, 2012 at 6:28 AM

    Such a timely and true post. It reminds me of a sing lyric by Rich Mullins….

    “I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want, than take what you give I need.”

  75. S. B. Newman on January 12, 2012 at 6:04 AM

    The black pens work best to reset your modem! 🙂 Great post, great responses!


  76. Wendy on January 12, 2012 at 5:03 AM

    I couldn’t sleep. So what do I do? I come downstairs, turn on the computer, and land here.

    Guess someone upstairs knew I needed to read this. Yep, sleeping husband and well, yeah, God, too.

    Such a well-written post, Billy. Planning to tweet it and such when I wake up again.

    Thanks for writing this.
    ~ Wendy

  77. Vicki T. Lee on January 12, 2012 at 4:32 AM

    Love this post! Reminds me of the movie “Misery” when the writer character Paul Sheldon informs the character Annie that the paper she’s brought back from the store smudges easily. She goes off – bangs him on his sore legs with a huge stack of the paper before storming back out.
    Better to just be called insane huh? 🙂
    After much trial and many notebooks of unfinished writings, my choice is not so much between ink colors, but between ink and keyboard. Keyboard wins hands down. 🙂

  78. Laura W. on January 12, 2012 at 3:30 AM

    I haaaaaate blue pens!!! Something about how they’re not dark enough just bothers the heck out of me. I refuse to write with them.

    Instead I write with multicolored gel pens.

    Or I just type.

  79. P. J. Casselman on January 12, 2012 at 3:11 AM

    Excuse me, but what are these “pens” you speak of? Are they the things I use to reset my modem?

    • Amy Boucher Pye on January 12, 2012 at 9:47 AM

      Thank you! Was wondering the same thing!

    • Sandy Stevener on January 13, 2012 at 12:40 PM

      Thanks for the post Billy. It is so true that we all get caught-up in our needs – which are usually our wants.

      I’m in the reest the modem croud.

      I personally like purple pens, but only for my signature.

  80. matthew turner on January 12, 2012 at 2:55 AM

    First of all i love the OCD for blue pens 🙂

    and secondly good advice. Needs and Wants are a skewed thing i think. It’s often hard to differentiate between the two

    Matt (Turndog Millionaire)

  81. Kat Ward on January 12, 2012 at 2:47 AM

    “The world…is ours to borrow” is very true as the world will exist a helluva lot longer than we do.

    May I play devil’s advocate? Billy, I really enjoyed your post; it was funny, touching and profound, but since I haven’t gotten an agent, haven’t had my novel published, and haven’t been offered a multi-book deal, I’m still wavering between hope and anxiety while I scramble and hustle to pay the bills any way I can.

    I do manage to just meet my needs, but it comes with a whole lot of angst and waking up in a sweat at four in the morning. These past handful of years have felt a lot like hardly surviving rather than having a quality life. I adore my girl, have good friends and family, but financial hell is a bear to live with over an extended period of time.

    When a magical day comes and my ex can take our daughter for a whole 24 hours and I get a day without clients or having to make three solid meals, or be chauffeur, therapist and teacher, and I can spend my day just writing, editing and re-writing—it’s so incredible and I long for the day when I can be a full-time writer, when I have been offered what you have. It may be a tad too late as the half-century mark is not far off, but hope is a beautiful thing. And, I do realize that even if I never make money as a writer—and knew that ahead of time—I’d still be writing (which probably goes without saying).

    Congratulations on your success. I will sign off now and look into which book of yours to buy!

    • kiff on January 12, 2012 at 7:27 AM

      this post truly touched me.

    • Cathy on January 12, 2012 at 10:22 AM

      Replying to Kat Ward…hope it shows up under her comment!

      I feel your pain! Although I am a full-time Mom, and so am home during the day, my littlest is not yet in preschool…and my boys do NOT allow me to write when they’re conscious. So, any writing I do must be done very early in the morning. I have no family help with my boys (other than my husband.) It’s been that way since the oldest was born, almost 6 years ago.

      In fact, this week (with some writing deadlines looming, and a possible new book project) I’ve had to start getting up even a half hour earlier…which is much harder now than it was when I was in my 20’s and 30’s!

      I SO need to practice writing, and get SO little time to do it. Next Fall, my littlest will go to preschool 3 mornings a week, and I have already declared that sacred writing time. 🙂

      As for Billy…he is not a full-time writer! He has an “outside” job and a family, including one child with special medical needs. How he manages to produce as much great writing as he does, is still a mystery to me. He says he spends some sleepless nights. I believe it.

      God bless you today with some rest and joy! This difficult patch will not last forever, I promise. Stoke the writing fires when you can.


    • Erin Spineto on January 12, 2012 at 8:25 PM

      Hey, if the half-century mark is coming up, so must retirement be on the horizon also. What better way to ease into a new phase.

  82. Neurotic Workaholic on January 12, 2012 at 2:30 AM

    I want to get published, but I need to write stories that are good, even if they never get published. I need to know that all my years of writing and all the writing classes I took have helped me learn how to be a better writer, not just an adequate one. I guess one could say that’s my ego talking, but I think all writers want to write good stories. Not to mention there are plenty of published stories out there (particularly some “written” by celebrities) that aren’t very good.

  83. Aimee L. Salter on January 12, 2012 at 2:25 AM

    This isn’t just writing, this is life. Thank you for a very timely reminder!

  84. Mercey Valley on January 12, 2012 at 2:20 AM

    I still stand by my blue Inoxcroms (but I keep black refills, for the record, because sometimes it’s just right to write in black). The irony is that if something hits me and I have to write it down, any pen I can lay my hand on will fit the bill until I can sort it out on the proper page once and for all. Isane writers? It’s best not to fight the truth of the way God made us.

    The wants are needs more than ever. This year for me is the year of need, for sure.

    “…the world isn’t ours to have as much as it is ours to borrow…” Profound!

    Need vs. want… I love this post! Thank you!

  85. Melanie on January 12, 2012 at 1:33 AM

    We all have wants – they’re our writerly quirks. Our needs are basic – something to write with and something to write on. Nothing more, nothing less.
    In saying so, I believe having a pen that feels nice and writes smoothly is more important than the colour of the ink.

  86. Jo Eberhardt on January 12, 2012 at 1:29 AM

    A friend gave me a beautiful “just because you’re a writer” gift. It’s a fountain pen, with beautifully engraved symbols and wood panelling.

    I was so amazed by his generosity. Then I tried it.

    “Oh,” I said. “But it’s got black ink. I can’t write with this.”

    My husband assures me that normal people say thank you when they receive gifts, and I was supposed to do the same.

  87. Marsha Young on January 12, 2012 at 1:26 AM

    This is one of the better posts I have read in quite some time. Nice work.

    • Lisa Fender on January 12, 2012 at 9:22 AM

      Excellent post! I love it and thanks, yes we writers have a one track mind, but I wouldn’t trade the time I spend on my story for anything!

  88. Cossette Olivier on January 12, 2012 at 1:13 AM

    Not true. Black pens make the best words. Black BP zebra pens, thank you.

    My needs as a writer? To write and get words out there. To tell someone something that makes a difference, even if it’s just one someone in a lifetime of writings.

    It’s not bad for stress, either.

  89. Tari on January 12, 2012 at 12:45 AM

    No, it’s true. Blue pens do right the best words. In fact, I prefer the clear blue Bic pens that I get in a package of 10 for $1 at back to school time…I stock up. My husband has also made this mistake. He bought me a beautiful pink Cross pen…with black ink. He already knew that I was insane before the ink, because my characters talk to me, so when I explained about the blue ink, he just shook his head, and bought a blue ink cartridge for it….blue ink does write the best words…..