Over time I myself embarked on a pursuit quite like the gentleman in this article. Looking for a pen that suited me because I wasn’t really finding a lot of usefulness in the market as it was.
I spent too long with pencils and their blurry, imprecise marks of graphite on paper that almost always faded over time until all you could note was the impressions the nib made on the paper after it was all faded away.
Mechanical pencils really didn’t help, except that they did do a rather good job in freeing me from manual sharpeners. The only time I took mechanical pencils seriously was when I took a drafting class in high school. I’ve dallied around with them at work, but they almost always end up going back to the coffee mug gulag where other writing implements go that aren’t good enough.
I then moved forward to ink pens, and here I wandered in vain for a very long time. Ball points, Gel Pens, lots of different technologies and they all shared the same awfulness. Eventually paper dust or age would clog their functional bits. These pens would suddenly skip, stop working, or after trying in vain to resurrect them they would eject their balls and void their ink all over the writing surface. I’ve never really enjoyed using modern cartridge ball point pens. I also tend to write quickly and these basic pens always leave me feeling cramped as my hand starts to resemble a claw more than anything else. Humorously, when I purchased my house I had to endure a flurry of paperwork and sign my name many times. At the end of the ordeal I actually couldn’t extend my cramped hand to shake on the purchase and so had no choice but to resort to using my left hand, which is like shaking hands with a dead bird. My left hand is nearly useless as my right hand does practically all the work. So, even these ballpoints were out. After some time I did some research on these devices and figured out that one of the chief reasons why I didn’t like them very much was that the ink really wasn’t so much ink as it was a kind of inky grease. The quality and feel of a pen as I write is more important to me, along with ink flow than anything else. As anyone knows, one of my dearest pet peeves is repeating myself. I hate repeating myself in speech and I detest repeating myself in writing. Ball points, grease pens, they all eventually fail me and force me to re-trace the same glyphs over and over again trying to deposit ink in the way that I need to in order to communicate.
As a rather humorous sidelight, I have for the most part abandoned this technology altogether for use of keyboards. In many ways I have even abandoned spoken word as I find it trying to get the right words out, especially when my poor male brain is agonizing over emotional processing and is just pushed that far enough where I can either hold on to an emotion or hold on to nouns, not both. There is something more even, more paced when it comes to writing that appeals to me, and as it turns out I’m more in touch with my emotions when I write than when I speak, it’s as if the paper provides me the mental room to explore my feelings as well as fish for the correct language to use to discuss them.
Which leads me to my own favorite pen, which runs counter to the pen described in the above link. My pen of choice, and frankly I have to admit that it is a very uniquely right-handed device is a Lamy cartridge fountain pen. It’s royal blue case and cap and ink cartridge are always with me. It shares space in my backpack with the other items I couldn’t go day-to-day without, such as my pocket watch, which I store while I’m at the gym so as to not injure it all wound up in belt and pants, as well as my gram-scale for measuring out my tea or coffee for my work life life-preserver. The way this pen writes, on any kind of paper is marvelous. The flow of ink along the feed to the nib means I don’t have to mash down and scribe the paper while I try to write along its surface and its unbroken ink means I don’t have to retrace what I tried to write, something that is worth more to me than any other feature.
Sometimes the best things are the old things. Just because modernity demands ball point, or gel pens and lauds their qualities doesn’t mean that modernity is correct. It’s been my experience that in this case, the very old design of the fountain pen, which hasn’t really changed in a thousand years from its first invention in 953 serves me delightfully to this very day. It’s funny that something so old, something that’s been with humanity for such a very long time endures. If you look out in the marketplace you won’t find these pens, I know, I’ve tried. I had to order this pen specially along with it’s ink cartridges. It wasn’t terribly expensive however this is not a pen you dispose of, this pen is something that stays with you for a very long time. It’s that function and durability that truly impress me. It won’t get clogged with paper dust, it’s not greasy, and the way it writes is beyond a pleasure. The only thing that I don’t do anymore is actually write letters with it, however now that it occurs to me, it’s something that would be a pleasure to do. Pursuing that is something that would send me off looking for the proper paper. My unusual eye would most likely be drawn by very fine paper in the A4 format. There is something delightfully rebellious and anachronistic about abandoning irrationally sized American papers for their more logical and pleasing metric counterparts. But that’s going to be another blog post, I think.