When I leave my office, where I edit books all day, I often go home and edit some more, as I did this evening. You noneditors out there probably think copy editors wield poisonous red pens, but we actually do our dirty work with softer red pencils. And as my fellow editors out there will surely agree, the work becomes pure drudgery if you’re working with a bad pencil that doesn’t make sharp marks or erase easily. The problem is this: There used to be a great red pencil, the Sanford Col-Erase pencil in Carmine Red, which made clear lines and erased almost completely. Then they sold out or merged with Prismacolor, and the pencil leads became fuzzier and the erasers more “crunchy,” as Will terms it, and nothing else rose up to meet the old standard. Then Will happened across a wonderful auction on eBay: 300 vintage, virgin old-school Sanford Carmine Reds, for less than half the cost of the newfangled Prismacolors. Now our offices are well-stocked and our work will be a little more pleasant for at least a year or so. I hate to think of what happens when the pencils run out, though.

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