(Rubber) Erasing Past Mistakes

Mistakes happen in writing and in life, so it’s awfully handy to have an eraser around to get rid of errors and make a fresh start when possible.

Long before the desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, or eReader tablet was in existence, people actually jotted down inspirations and even complete articles, stories, and novels with a pencil and notebook. I know — it’s pretty hard to believe, but it’s the truth.

An Affinity for the Eraser:


  • As a kid, I collected erasers that were shaped like everything from French fries to unicorns — I had over 300 in all, many like these and these from Lisa Frank
  • As a writer, I own a pair of dangling half-pencil earrings which have those pink plugs (as manufacturers refer to them ) prominently on display
  • On the recommendation of my teachers, I grew up using pencils far more often than pens
  • Pencils are usually my go-to when I’m writing article ideas on the go; I tend to be a bit old-school, writing sans laptop

6 Fun Facts about the Rubber Eraser:

  • The first erasers were white bread! Pieces of bread helped lighten or remove pencil marks.
  • It’s called Rubber Eraser Day because although the first erasers were all made of rubber, today they can be made of rubber or vinyl, which is a type of plastic.
  • Both Joseph Priestley and Edward Naime have been credited with inventing the eraser in 1770. Priestley said that he noticed the ‘erase’ abilities of rubber he had imported from Brazil. Naime simply claims he picked up rubber by accident when reaching for white bread. Who do you believe?
  • In 1858, Hyman Lipman of Philadelphia patented the pencil with an eraser at the end as we know it today.
  • Charles Goodyear invented the process of vulcanization (nothing to do with Star Trek), which allowed for the preservation of rubber erasers, as rubber can go bad. Who knew?
  • Most pencils sold in Europe have no erasers at all. Pencils with erasers are an American luxury, apparently!


So in honor of this week’s (April 15th) Rubber Eraser Day, here is something I’d like to erase from my past:

My bowl haircut and all the late 80’s and early 90’s fashion I tragically embraced!

I’m pretty sure my mother was the guilty party when it came to my unfortunate haircuts, but when it came to fashion, I was the one who chose to put together some pretty god-awful ensembles. I like to think of myself as a free spirit that should have been contained.

The point is, whether it’s fashion or writing, style is important, as is consistency. Needless to say, a sweatshirt with stars and moons, a heavy wool plaid skirt and sporting sunglasses indoors is far from a consistent style. In fact, it screams “NO STYLE AT ALL”. I’m surprised I had any friends.

Work it, young Emilie. Work it:

What would you erase, if given the opportunity? Past relationships, bad decisions, actual writing errors?

How has the eraser made your life easier?

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