Dance of the Fountain Pen
I am gadget girl. I love electronic gadgets, particularly ones from Apple. I adore my iPhone. I adore my iPad. I adore my Mac. I adore my new Pebble watch. So, one might wonder why on earth I would choose to keep a hand-written journal, a Midori calendar that I have to fill in myself, a written to-do list, and why I would grade student papers with fancy schmancy fountain pens?
Here’s why. I find writing with a fountain pen to be an act of meditation. There is something magical about the interaction of a pen, ink, and paper that cannot be duplicated with a ballpoint or any other kind of pen, and certainly not a keyboard. I pick the perfect ink for each pen, no longer limited to blue or black or, God forbid, grading-red. I love how the pen feels in my hand and how I can sense the slight resistance of the paper against the nib. I love the scritchy sounds some pens make and the smooth silence of others. I enjoy watching the tines of a flexy nib spread when pressure is applied and watching a line widen and narrow in response to my hand. I love the smell of ink and the mess it leaves on my hands when I’m refilling pens.
But most of all, I love the poetry of pen and ink on paper. The moment you touch a nib to the paper and start writing, you sense that words matter; letters matter; paper matters. Writing with a fountain pen helps you focus on the very act of writing, because you have to slow down or the pen will skip. You have to slow down to make sure you are holding the pen correctly. You have to slow down as you put your thoughts on paper because you can’t write as quickly with a fountain pen. You have to slow down.
Pen, ink, and paper perform a magical pas de trois, because isn’t writing really a dance?