Simple Pleasures: Writing With a Fountain Pen

By , October 8, 2012

I’ve been focusing the last few posts on cursive writing and its uses. To return to the topic one more time, I’d like to recommend my favorite tool for this particular job: a fountain pen.

The fountain pen is almost a relic from another age, nearly eclipsed by innovations that make pens sturdier, less likely to leak, and more disposable. Not many people care to mess with a fountain pen when a free ballpoint is readily available at any counter.

fountain pens

My two most prized writing instruments: my trusty Waterman Carene (top) and my new, locally made moose antler (bottom) (Photo: Mark Zeiger).

But for those who take the slight time and effort to learn how to write properly with a good quality fountain pen, writing can become a truly rewarding experience. A decent fountain pen offers a choice between plastic ink cartridges, or a refillable ink reservoir. Most allow switching between the two at will. The nibs are gold or iridium plated for very smooth writing. The pen’s barrel—again, a throwback to an older age—fits one’s hand comfortably, a far cry from today’s stick pens.

Luckily for my current lifestyle, I experimented with fountain pens a long time ago, when I worked a regular job, and could better afford quality writing instruments. One must pay more for a good fountain pen, but really no more than a nice executive model ballpoint pen. I chose the highest quality I could afford at the time, and that has repaid me many times over. If a quality pen leaks, The manufacturer will repair or replace it, usually at no charge. I’ve lost track, but I think I’ve owned my Waterman for at least 15 years. It shows no sign of wearing out, and I certainly haven’t grown tired of it.

Lately, however, I gave in to temptation: A friend recently began making pens for his store, including fountain pens. He made one with a moose antler barrel, and I couldn’t resist investing some of my earnings from sales of my book through his store in a new writing instrument. The local materials, the association with my friend, and its incredibly low price for the quality made it worthwhile.

In learning about fountain pens, I read a lot of advice on the subject, much of which has proved useful. An experienced user observed that if a person borrows an expensive pen, they’re far more likely to return it than they might a cheap one. Further, I’ve found that very few people are willing to borrow a fountain pen at all! I’ve offered mine to many people who see that it’s a fountain pen and back away, perhaps alarmed that it might explode, spraying ink all over them.

Using a fountain pen requires a little more care and thought to use. It requires deliberation, which suits my deliberate lifestyle. I feel good every time I use it, and to get that feeling, I use it every day.

That’s my preference. What’s yours? Some delight in a well sharpened pencil, others really like roller balls, or felt tips. Whatever suits you best, cultivate the usage, and enjoy life just a little bit more.

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