Last year I was re-introduced into the fountain pen world. I had received a Cross Classic Century pen as a gift about thirty or more years ago and had written with it for a little while and then put it aside in favor of ballpoints and roller balls. At that time in my life I was more concerned about writing fast than I was about what I was writing with. As a result, my handwriting slowly deteriorated and my beloved fountain pen rolled to the back of a desk drawer, abandoned and gathering dust. Then last year, I had the good fortune to run into someone who got me interested in fountain pens all over again (See my other blog “On the Fountain Pen” if you want to learn more about that chance meeting.)
Since then, I’ve been telling a lot of people, friends, family, acquaintances, even strangers, how I’ve come to love the fountain pen again. I go on and on about how every pen is unique and how the nibs can be fine-tuned to fit your writing style, how there are great pens that start at $15 or if you want to splurge, you can go up to $1,500 (or more) if you like! I salivate as I tell them about all of the wonderful inks available now. I evangelize about the beauty of the colors, the shading, the availability of shimmering, glittering and sheening inks. I try to convert them to come over to the fountain pen world.
But instead of oohing and aahing over my descriptions, most people look at me oddly and simply ask “What do you do with them?” The first time I was asked this question, I had to literally bite my tongue to not just quip, “Write!” I mean, what kind of question is that? Well, duh, I write with them. But after holding back my sarcastic reply, and before my tongue started bleeding, I realized that they were serious. I found it to be such an odd question. Since I had learned how to write cursive as a child, I had continuously used longhand cursive over the years, even when I wasn’t using a fountain pen. I did everything with it. I took notes in college, I took notes during meetings at my job (when I wasn’t typing them into my computer), I wrote thank you notes, I wrote poems, hell, I wrote out my grocery list! Their question made me wonder what everyone else had been doing all this time while I was writing.
I recently moved into a 55+ community, and almost everyone I’ve met has told me that they haven’t used cursive in years. They either print everything or they type it into their computer or phone. I was shocked. Why weren’t they writing anymore? Most people I asked told me that it was too slow. I thought that was strange because in my mind, printing was slower than writing. I was so sure of this that I actually conducted a speed test with a friend of mine. We both wrote the sentence “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country,” while another friend timed us. There was no doubt in my mind that I would win. Our friend yelled “Go!” and I wrote as fast as I could. It was not very pretty, but it was legible. But I didn’t win. Actually, I didn’t lose either. It ended up being a draw. But I was shocked. I was so positive that writing was faster – a lot faster.
I guess while I was still plugging away with cursive, most of the other people, at least in the U.S., had abandoned it for printing, and even more of them just do everything electronically. So this is the background that they came from and what led them to ask me what I did with my fountain pen. I told them about the every-day things. Even though I’m not in school anymore and I’m retired, I still write in cursive. And after discovering the joy of the fountain pen again, I look for more and more excuses to write. I started a daily journal, I write letters and cards to friends and family that I know probably wouldn’t receive any otherwise. I write down my daily appointments and to-do’s in my Bullet Journal, which has morphed into an Omni Journal (more on this whole journal thing in another blog coming soon!)
I keep a word diary and fill it with new words I want to remember that I’ve learned from reading or conversations. I’ve also been teaching myself to write left-handed and have been working on improving my right-hand cursive so that it’s prettier and the letters are more even. And I’ve started working on hand-lettering. I would love to be able to recreate some of the beautiful cursive and yes, even printed fonts that I see on websites like myfonts.com and fonts.com, entirely by hand with my fountain pens.
What do you write with your fountain pens? I challenge you to take your love of the fountain pen to the next level and search for new and exciting ways to use your pens and share your experiences with others. Who knows, you might just inspire someone new to join our world.