Why I Write With a Fountain Pen
For almost two years now, I've been writing with fountain pens. I take great pride in my analog approach to keeping track of my thoughts. Sure, many of you have moved on to digital note-taking apps or have altogether given up on organizing your life. As the immeasurably hilarious Ali Wong once proclaimed, I want to "declutter my home to achieve inner peace and my optimum level of success." [Side note: Pay Netflix a visit and watch her comedy special. It's ridiculously funny.] Minus the decluttering part, I do believe some simple handwriting practices can help you achieve your optimum level of success.
The fountain pen is laden with history, gravitas, and symbolism. I'm sure many of you have heard of the brand Mont Blanc, a German company that has become an international star for extravagant pens, watches, and other weird accessories. Other pen makers, such as Parker and Pilot, share similarly rich histories albeit less flashy. Fountain pens are icons of status, refinement, and pretentiousness. Relics in the digital era and symbols of the class structures that contemporary politics so disapproves, fountain pens are tangible goods that truly have no place in this modern world—or so you think...
Let's be ignorant for a second and sidestep the social critiques and political commentary. I love the fountain pen for its technical and aesthetic properties. It writes well and commands attention via its intricate details.
As I already stated, the incredible writing experience is second to none. The nibs are so smooth they just glide over the paper. Ink color options are endless and the involvement in choosing the pen and ink make writing a truly personal experience. Pen nibs are special creatures. They change as you write, adapting to your writing idiosyncrasies. Someone else's pen will feel very different from your own. After you make the switch to fountain pens, ballpoint counterparts will feel stiff, impersonal, and definitely cheap.
There are infinite varieties of designs, materials, sizes, etc. If you thought gel pens were exotic, then you're in for a ride!
I must confess that there are drawbacks to owning fountain pens. The maintenance routine is quite extensive and time-consuming. You will need to regularly clean and refill your pens. Furthermore, fountain pens are not amenable to cheap paper. Often times the nibs catch on stray fibers on rougher surfaces. You may well need to purchase new notebooks or special laser printer paper for your pens to work well. The costs associated with ownership are quite high. Inks are recurring costs that add up if you like to have a library of colors. Pens themselves can become quite expensive, too. As you con imagine, some fountain pens command exorbitant prices. If you think Mont Blanc pens are expensive, wait till you discover handmade maki-e pens. Don't let that deter you as there are quite a few incredible pens for a reasonable price.
In the end, you have to be a special kind of person to bother with any of this. Meticulous, aesthetically-minded, and somewhat anal. If none of this has turned you off and you're interested in a magical writing experience, do get yourself a fountain pen. Isolate yourself from the humdrum of the world and just write your thoughts in a journal. Your pen will guide you to peace and amity.
As a shout-out to my partners of my other blog, here's a link to Of Quill Alchemy—a site dedicated to exploring analog tools in a digital age. There are many posts regarding fountain pens, so do settle down with nice hot cup of coffee and dig in!
Until next time,