I enjoy writing utensils. I have a couple of fountain pens, a multitude of disposable pens (my favorite these days is the Pilot G2, 0.38mm), the occasional mechanical pencil. I enjoy writing with them more than I tend to enjoy the things I write. At this point, that mostly consists of grocery lists, basic to-do notes, scribblings about my current research. That is, I write a ton of crap with good items.
(Yes, I guess I’m a pen snob. It’s just that I’ve had so many problems with cheap ball-points and bad pencils breaking while note-taking during lectures that I’ve pretty much decided that I needed to use something better to the extent that I could afford to do so.)
When I first heard about the Sharpie Liquid Pencil, I was intrigued. A pencil that had something close to the permanence of a pen? (That is, you could still kinda sorta erase it after a couple of days, but not completely.) A pencil without lead that broke? Sign me up! Even if it wasn’t as good as my favorite pen, I could learn to like it. Sure, I probably couldn’t use it on a standardized test, but I couldn’t remember the last time I specifically needed an HB pencil, anyway.
I tried finding them here in Chicago, and I couldn’t. Local office supply stores didn’t have them; neither did the local drug stores. Amazon had a backlog of a month (which appears to have been rectified). In general, I was stymied. And the reviews I read were uniformly negative, it seemed.
My brother-in-law was in town this past weekend, and he gave me one to try. Apparently, they were available at Wal-Mart, but given that the closest one to me is horribly out of the way, I didn’t even consider them as a viable place to go. Anyway, I got to try it, and I did on a variety of surfaces: a Moleskine notebook, a legal pad, receipts, business cards.
By and large, it’s better than the erasable pens of old. Those neither wrote nor erased well. I still have memories of papers with holes and black and blue smudges from erasers that couldn’t erase, and frustration from ink that flowed like curdled milk. The Liquid Pencil, on the other hand, had a much more consistent flow. (Yes, I know this is at odds with the reviewers on Amazon and other places.) It’s like a generic ballpoint pen, rather than the erasable ones. I’m not going to give up my fountain pen, but it’s still much better than I expected.
Even better? It erases really well. I think it erases better than some of my pencils. A few days later, I can erase the markings a bit, but not much. To make sure, I used other erasers, and they could erase the graphite similarly well. Again, my experiences in this regard have been much better than those of the reviewers.
My only complaint is that the graphite is fairly light. I think I was expecting something darker, closer to a pen; instead, it really did seem like a standard pencil lead in lightness, though less solid in texture on the paper, like ballpoint ink. Perhaps in the next iterations, they will offer different grades (can I get a 3B or 4B liquid pencil, for example?). But I’m not dissatisfied with it so far, and I plan to get my grubby mitts on a few more as soon as I can.