This is a post I’ve been wanting to make for a while, which feels really weird to say considering this is going to be all about pens. How long you ask? Well, instead of launching into a hyperbolic story I shall answer you with a single image:
Those of you with keen eyes will notice that the Last Modified date for the post was in December of 2015, nearly 2 years ago. If you have bothered to look you will also notice that it was just a few months after I first launched my blog. I have sat on this for a couple of years, mostly because I wasn’t sure I should ramble on about what I like about pens.
Why the change? Because I feel like I now have a post that is more interesting because my tastes have shifted quite sharply in the last year.
Previously I would have talked about why I preferred the Pilot Precise V7 Stick Rolling Ball Pens. For the record, I still think that these are great pens which I have used since High School when I was in the Speech and Debate Club. Any time I need a cheap pen, such as something I can carry with my checkbook, this would be my first choice.
The thing is, I mostly use pens with my writing. I write in my personal journal (which tends to be about whatever project I’m working on), or in my idea book, or brainstorming ideas, or laying out plot elements. So while I compose the stories themselves on my laptop, a lot of the creative work happens by hand. I write a lot.
For Christmas 2016 I got a very nice fountain pen from a friend who decided I needed one because by publishing In Honor’s Shadow I had become a real author. The pen he selected was the Hemisphere Rose Cuivre from Waterman. I wouldn’t call this a top-of-the-line fountain pen, those easily run into the thousands of dollars, but I would call it a very nice pen intended for everyday use.
Here is the part where I am about to start talking about stuff that will probably make me sound pretentious, so fair warning.
What I immediately noticed once I got used to writing with the fountain pen was that disposable ballpoint pens began feeling very cheap. Obviously that is because they need to be. My fountain pen had noticeably more heft to it (not that it was heavy, but disposable pens are surprisingly light). I found this gave me a greater feeling of control over the pen, which I enjoyed immensely. This had a side benefit of making writing easier since I can allow the weight of the pen to press down on the paper instead of pressing down myself, which in turn means that my hand doesn’t tire nearly so quickly.
This is probably in my head, but the added mass of the pen (and my ability to control it better) gives writing with it a sense of weight that I appreciate. It makes me want to slow down and think about what I am doing, which cannot be a bad thing, and is probably the driving force behind my recent wish to improve my penmanship.
Obviously the downside is that a $100+ pen isn’t the sort of thing you are going to travel with lightly since it is fairly small and easy to lose, so for my birthday I got a cheaper fountain pen for about $45 dollars. This one is even heavier than my first one (in fact, probably a little too heavy) and feels noticeably cheaper to hold, however I find it still feels far superior to write with it than a ballpoint pen. I was happy to find that while the pen itself feels cheaper that the manufacturer did create a quality nib, so it writes just as well as the first fountain pen I received.
There are some other weird things I learned as grew to like my new fountain pens. The first is that if you like convenience there are ink inserts that you can use with no fuss, although you will want to make sure you buy a pen that can take the standardized inserts. These are quite nice and create no mess, you simply snap them in and you are ready to write. Oddly, I found I prefer to fill my pens manually because I enjoy the slight ritual that is involved. This is also easy to do with no mess, although you will need to buy a converter for your pen and learn how to use it.