Friday, December 7, 2012

Barrel to Nib to Paper



     Some people say they cannot read my handwriting. A few have suggested it's my writing instrument. With pride, I tell them I was weaned on fountain pens and ink wells, was  trained in the loops and slants of the Palmer Method, and always use a fountain pen with its cap posted. I'm not sure what the issue is with the writing, because I can read it. I love my handwriting. In fact, I think it's expressive.

     My pen––well, there are several, a good several, housed atop a bookcase. Each has a personality, a particular feel, a memory attached. Some I use for special occasions, like personal notes or Holiday greetings. I've two red-barreled pens I use with Visconti red inks for marking revisions on my poems and stories. Quite effective. Other colors have a function that match the pen they flow through: brown Sheaffer ink is used in the brown Sheaffer for draft writing. Two blue Pelikan pens use blue Pelikan ink. They're the daily work horses. Two Parkers rely on Parker black for a range of jobs, and a green Parker Duofold uses emerald ink for Holiday cards. The yellow Waterman pictured here, uses Waterman's black. No one is special. Each is special.

     My Composition Books and journals are filled with fragmented thoughts and ideas, character names or sketches, overheard conversations, future titles, +++ and all in different colored inks. Different pens, too. There's a lot to consider when you write with a fountain pen and free-flowing ink. For instance, the feel and absorbency of the paper, the size nib, and whether the pen feels good in my hand at the time.

     Like everyone, I succumbed to the vogue and ease of ballpoints, rollerballs, and gels. Most are disposable. Not so a fountain pen, which can have a life of more than one hundred years. A ballpoint and its siblings do not and cannot give the feel and comfort of a fountain pen, and the effortless writing that comes from using one. A fountain pen trains you to write with a light pressure, and is much less tiring than the other pen types.

     "The more you use a fountain pen," my Dad used to say, "the better and smoother it will be to write with." I am attached to my fountain pens and the expressiveness they lend to my writing. I returned to them after a hiatus of several years, but will never part with their company again.