I’m going to come out of the closet about something – I love a good pen.
The feel of a quality writing instrument is really something that’s underappreciated in a world of touch-screen devices and keyboards. Except for paying a check at a restaurant, most of my day doesn’t even require that I use an actual ink pen at all. But I do use a pen because I want to.
I keep a small journal in my pocket and when an idea or concept for a writing project occurs to me, I scribble it down in my little book. When I am actually composing a story or even an outline, I do it on the computer, usually in MS Word or YWriter and the pen doesn’t factor in that process at all. But when I want to record a thought or idea, it just feels organic to write it down. I want that tactile connection to the paper. It’s real. It’s intimate, even sensual.
A few months ago, I switched from a ballpoint pen to a fountain pen. I’ll be honest, I didn’t think anyone really wrote with fountain pens any more unless they were doing calligraphy. I picked up an inexpensive Cross fountain pen at a Staples and I’ve never looked back. Well, I did look back in a sense, because I wasn’t fond of the wide nib (the point where the pen contacts the paper) of the Cross pen. I did some research and finally decided on a Lamy Safari AL-Star Left-Handed model with a fine point. I wasn’t disappointed, and it’s been one the most treasured items I carry on my person. It’s a nice combination of a modern but still elegant writing instrument.
So what’s the big deal about a fountain pen? I simply like that I slow down my handwriting and am more legible when writing with a fountain pen (mind you, my handwriting is still horrible). I also admit that I like the double-take factor when someone sees me writing with it. It’s funny. And as I said before, it just feels good to write with. Unlike a ballpoint pen, you don’t press down at all. My hand gets less tired when feverishly scrawling several pages of a concept.
It’s true that fountain pens are outmoded in our time, but this is how I connect to the ideal of writing. In some way, I feel it is how I can show the written form respect, the way you might do with an elder who has a rich history to reflect on but has lost usefulness in a modern world. And I like that it keeps me in touch with being human; not have to plug-in to computer to create.
Just me, I know. I’m weird.
For the record: I composed this essay entirely in MS Word and never even touched a pen. All things have their place.