Q&A with Guild Mascot Giant Pencil

Giant Pencil representing the Guild at ACES 2018

The Northwest Editors Guild’s oversized writing implement mascot, Giant Pencil, has been making appearances at events and on social media during the last year. In fact, starting July 23, Giant Pencil will be hosting the Editors of Earth Twitter account—a rotating curator account with a different editor hosting each week. It’s the first pencil to be asked to host.

As Giant Pencil’s following increases, we’ve received many questions about this well-dressed No. 2 of large proportions. We sat down with Giant Pencil to get to the point (pencil puns included).

Q: What should people call you? Do you have a preferred pronoun?

A: My name is Giant Pencil, so you can call me that. My pronoun is “it.” I’m a writing implement, not a human, so he/she/they doesn’t really apply.

Giant Pencil volunteering at the Guild table at a conference early in its career.

Q: What do you do as the Guild’s mascot?

A: Part of the Guild’s mission is to connect editors with potential clients and with other editors. I’m here to help break the ice—to draw a smooth line between interactions, if you will. I help make editors more approachable—to show that editors can have fun and a sense of humor.

So many authors, and even the general public, are intimidated by editors because they don’t know what real professional editors do. Your stereotypical editor is this stern, pedantic grammarian who tears apart writing and scolds people for improper usages, but that isn’t true. Most editors see their work as a collaboration with writers, and don’t belittle others for mistakes. I want to help people start a discussion and learn that the editing process doesn’t have to be scary.

Relaxing at home with a cup of coffee and some favorite books.

Q: How did you get your start as the Guild’s mascot?

A: A couple of my large pencil cousins and I started attending events and outreach opportunities with Guild board members in late 2016 and early 2017—mostly as table decorations and in case someone forgot to bring a pencil or pen and had an urgent need to write something down. We’re not your typical No. 2s and that intrigues people, so they’d ask about us.

I was having fun, but then I found out I needed glasses last summer when I started having trouble crossing my t’s and dotting my i’s. I was sure that would end my days of going to events because my glasses would get in the way of people writing with me, but it turns out editors and writers love pencils that wear glasses! I was promoted to Guild mascot after that. My cousins without glasses still go to some Guild events and let visitors write with them, but they’re happy about my role as mascot—there’s no hard-graphite feelings there.

Taking some time out to play in the snow.

Q: How do you react to people who find your existence twee or childish?

A: I’m not here to delegitimize the editing profession, but make it more approachable and fun. Yeah, I’m goofy. I’m a huge pencil for goodness sake—how can I not be goofy? But if I can get someone to come over and ask about my sweater or if my eraser works and then they ask about editing or the Guild, then I’ve done my job.

Q: Along those lines, does your eraser work?

A: Yeah, my eraser works. We all make mistakes sometimes, right?

Q: And how about your lead?

Giant Pencil catches some rays between editing jobs.

A: I’m regular No. 2 graphite, so I can fill out standardized tests if needed.

Q: What kinds of places do you go as mascot? Have you met any interesting people?

A: Oh, I’m a lucky pencil. I usually stick around the pencil cups of Seattle’s wordy types, but I represent the entire Pacific Northwest and get to travel quite a bit. I’ve met tons of authors, aspiring and published, at writing conferences and events in the Portland and Seattle areas. I got to hang out with Guild members at meetings and happy hours, and met editors from all over at the Guild’s 2017 Red Pencil conference. Then I made friends with a bunch of famous editors at this spring’s ACES conference in Chicago. People were actually messaging me to get selfies with me—I felt like a fancy celebrity Blackwing!

Q: Could you explain the Blackwing reference for those not familiar with pencil culture?

Giant Pencil with Carol Saller, author of The Subversive Copy Editor, at Red Pencil 2017.

A: Oh, yeah, so the Blackwing is like the ultimate pencil. The original Blackwings had softer lead than usual and made a darker line so they were popular with writers, artists, and even editors. There are a bunch of different kinds of Blackwings now, but they’re still famous. Mary Norris wrote about how much she loves Blackwings in her book, Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen, so they’re kind of a big deal.

Q: Do you have any special appearances or projects coming up?

A: Besides hosting the Editors of Earth Twitter account the week of July 23, I’ll be making appearances at various Guild events and on the Guild’s social media accounts. I’m looking forward to meeting more editors and writers soon.

Q: Speaking of appearances, how did you acquire your snazzy wardrobe?

A: It’s all handmade by crafty Guild members. They recognized my need to stay sharp—in more ways than one. My sweater pattern is available for free on Ravelry, a fiber craft website.

Q: Finally, do you find it ironic that you’re a pencil mascot for an editing organization, yet most editing is done digitally these days?

A: A little bit, but editors can’t do everything digitally, so pencils are still relevant. I mean, who are you going to turn to when the Wi-Fi is down or your battery dies? Writing implements to the rescue!

If you want more Giant Pencil, check out the Guild’s Twitter page @EdsGuild, and be sure to say hello if you spot it at an event!

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