What is at the heart of my fascination with pens and pencils in general and fountain pens in particular? What is it that draws me to them; to search for my ideal writing implement?
To be fair I’m sure that there are a number of core issues, these might include such things as feel, design, aesthetic pleasure, collectability to name but a few. But it is the pure experience of writing that I consider to be paramount. I am constantly amazed by the ability we have to convey our thoughts and record information, experiences, emotions, events and desires simply using written characters. What a prize it is to be able to read and write! Now to be sure these skills are accomplished these days with an assortment of tools. At present I’m hammering the keys of my Macbook to get my thoughts recorded and viewed on a blog. But to me there is no more personal or creative a medium than the ordered coming together of pen and ink on paper, and the acme of this category is the opportunity to write with a fountain pen.
So when I pick up my pen with the intention of writing I look forward to something that I find more than a mere chore or even a means to an end. I look forward to the process of writing with a fountain pen as well as the result. So here some of my thoughts on the fountain pen writing experience:
1. The price of a pen does not equate necessarily with a great writing experience. A cheap pen may deliver the goods just as well as an expensive one. It is true to say that often you do get what you pay for, but after a certain amount (I think £100 to £150) we all must admit that we’re not paying for the engineering as much as we’re paying for the exotic raw materials or adornment. So if you like bejewelled pens that’s fine, but not all of us need follow that route and yet we can still enjoy writing.
2. A pen that is never used is useless. Lets face it pens were made to be used. I’m not one for collecting pretty pen barrels which never leave their respective boxes. Socrates believed that “all things are good and beautiful in relation to those purposes for which they are well adapted [and] bad and ugly in relation to those for which they are ill adapted.” In other words a pen is at its most beautiful when it is being used. So use them!
3. Ingredients matter. Peripherals like good paper and a good ink will make all the difference when using a fountain pen. I’ve had many a frustrating session writing on poor paper.
4. A lot hangs on the particular style of nib that you use. It is worth experimenting with your handwriting and preferred size and style of nib and then just have fun with your writing!
5. Writing is a pleasure that needs to be passed on. Write to friends & relatives, and write often. Oh and by the way buy a pen for the younger generations, get your kids starting early, they will thank you in good time.
6. Cultivate good pen care habits. Flush and maintain your pens regularly and you will prolong their usefulness and your writing pleasure.