The Joy of Writing with Fountain Pens

While digging through my desk, an old fountain pen caught my eye: a black and gold Waterman, which became defective about four years ago.  Which is a great shame, since this pen has about the perfect width for my hand and smoothly glides along the page, while at the same time making that delightful scratching noise concomitant with this kind of pen.  As a matter of fact, this very pen inscribed the first draft of the post before your eyes.  Its defectiveness lies in its inability to hol an ink cartridge without leaking, but one need not worry about that when using it in conjunction with an ink bottle.  Which reminds me of the first rule about keeping a fountain pen: do not leave ink in them and neglect them for long periods of time.  This invariably causes them to start leaking.  (You’d think I would have picked up on this sooner, but three of my fountain pens have been reduced to this state for the very same reason.  One I had to throw away.)

Many people consider fountain pen users (and anyone else who spends more than pocket change for a pen) as rather foolish.  Why spend between $50 to $800 or more dollars for a pen when a Bic will get the job done?  Anyone who prefers a very cheap pen must not write often; so, they have no idea how tiring and prosaic a Bic can become in even a short time.  But, those who favor a rollerball pen have a much stronger argument for not purchasing a fountain pen.  After all, a rollerball writes quite smoothly–I myself used to love them.  But, unless the pen is of expensive make, it’s grip is usually rather thin and has a tendency to rip through the paper in moments of emotion.  (Don’t become too perturbed, dear readers!  A writer of fiction ought to have an emotional personality–even if he keeps it under wraps most of the time!  Nevertheless, that remark likely injected an interesting image in some of your heads.)  The glide of a fountain pen is much more controlled, the grip more comfortable, and the broad tip of your pen will not pierce the page even in moments of moral outrage.  Plus, one much prefers the bold lines of a fountain pen to the ultra-thin scribbles of a rollerball.

Over my life, seven pens have found themselves under my care.  Two thoroughly broke (one due to cheap manufacture, the other due to breaking that rule I told you about), two leak, and three still work just fine.  Among my collection, you will also find a glass dip pen, which might sound cool; however, their novelty wears off once one realizes they need to be sharpened after some time.  (They say that Shelby Foote wrote with a glass dip pen.  I wonder how many times he needed to sharpen it over the course of completing one volume of his Civil War masterpiece!)  A good friend of mine gave the last of my acquisitions as a gift while I was in junior year of college.  He built the pen and fashioned its wooden body himself.  It still works splendidly.  The two that leak, the Waterman and a Levenger True Writer, still work well when used with ink bottles.  The latter was my first and lasted a good many years before breaking.  As a matter of fact, it’s a great first fountain pen to have.  Then, I have a Waterman Ici et La and a pen which resulted from a collaboration with Rotring and Levenger.

With that, I’ve just about run out of steam on this topic.  For those of you with journals, this is a great tool to have.


Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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