I’m told the American writer Henry Miller once wrote, “Ones destination is never a place but a new way of seeing things…” That may or may not be the case, but I thought it was quite profound. Anyway I thought that I would write something from my new place as it were, that is, the position of being in pen exile. Yes, you heard me right, pen exile…
To my horror a few months ago it dawned on me that, as I was having to fund two of my children through University, my pen budget this year would be practically zero. That would mean almost no pen buying, very little spent on paper and ink, a definite period of prolonged financial drought, or better still a necessary period of self-imposed pen exile.
This experience for someone who likes to blog about pens but doesn’t get that many pens sent from manufacturers to try may be fatal. At least fatal for the blog concerned as nothing new to review usually means precious little to blog about. But I have found it an illuminating time, a time to think and learn to see things differently. Here’s some of what I’ve found.
- I still like writing with fountain pens. That may sound obvious but actually if you take away the habit of buying and then blogging about the stuff you buy the buzz can be easily lost. Thankfully I’ve found that I still just like writing with my favourite fountain pens just for my own pleasure and relaxation.
- Contentment is not always having what you want. There is a lot to be said for saying ‘no’ to yourself once in a while. There can be an education in stopping and intentionally learning to want what you already have, which, incidentally, is a much better definition of true contentment.
- Sometimes pen-buying is something that’s bad for you. I know we don’t like admitting this, but some of us spend too much on pens. I know someone once stated “there are worse habits, right?” but really folks, sometimes we need to back off and just think. How many of us have bought in haste and regretted at leisure? How many of us have sold on pens we thought we would love and cherish for ever? Only to pass them on to others , usually at something of a financial loss, because the pens in question weren’t the answer to all our problems after all.
- Some of us are way too obsessed with pens. I’ve been watching, listening, and quietly surveying the pen subculture over the past months. I’ve seen its darker side. Unbelievably I’ve seen people fall out over pens! I’ve seen bloggers abused and trolled for no other reason than a difference of opinion. I know too that much of our subculture is industry driven, after all pen manufacturers and retailers want us to buy and to keep buying. What’s one more pen?
- They’re pens not magic wands. I’ve written this before I know but it’s still true. That one pen you really, really want isn’t going to change your life. It’s just a tool, it may be beautiful to look at; and well-engineered it may be, but after all is said and done it’s just a pen.
- I’ve already got more bottled ink than I’m ever going to be able to use. It is my stated ambition to live until I’m ninety or die trying. That said it has dawned on me that after I’m gone one of the things my kids will either learn to treasure or have fun throwing away is all the ink I’ve thus far accumulated. Enough with the ink already.
- Pen geeks are great! Despite the existence of the odd lunatic there is still a lovely community of pen addicts out there; they are usually really nice people who are keen to share their love, knowledge and expertise regarding fountain pens with anyone who’ll listen (or read).
So there it is my pen exile continues for a while at least. But as a certain Terminator once said, “I’ll be back!”
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