The Moving Finger Writes…

It’s been too long since I got out my fountain pens. I was already thinking that even before I read an essay by the novelist Henriette Lazaridis about the fountain pen she inherited from an uncle by way of her aunt, which is probably the best way to get a fountain pen. I have some, all given to me by my wife–getting a new fountain pen as a gift is the second best way to get one. My favorite is a design called Pericles. That’s the one with the cap off in the picture. Pericles was a pretty cool person, at least according to Thucydides, but I also like the pen because it’s heavy. Writing with a heavy pen makes me feel like the words themselves have extra weight. The downside of heavy pens is they tend to be more expensive, and, believe me, fountain pens can get really expensive. I wouldn’t want a $14,500 pen even as a gift–I’d be terrified to write with the damn thing.

Writing with a fountain pen also forces me to slow down because fountain pen ink ain’t like what’s in your standard ballpoint. It’s more viscous and, behind a southpaw, I have to be careful not to drag my hand through it while it’s still wet.

Fountain pens also have to be refilled by hand, a process I think is akin to a drug user’s routine, although generally safer, and really like using a syringe in reverse. I don’t mind getting ink on my fingers, either. I think of it as the mark of a writer. I just have to make sure not to use red ink.

My wife has her own collection of fountain pens. Some she’s gotten as gifts, but some she’s purchased for herself–the third best way of getting fountain pens. She’s bought some new ones but also picked up some antique ones at second-hand stores. Some of those are so old they’re not even usable anymore, their ink bladders, made of, I don’t know, rat intestines treated with antimony or something, long since desiccated.  

She even uses them for work, which I can’t do with my own fountain pens. Well, I could, but I like keeping them for my own personal writing.

I know writing by hand is a disappearing art, and it’s ironic that I’ve typed all of this into a computer, but then all this typing just makes me appreciate my fountain pens that much more.

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5 Comments

  1. mydangblog

    I used to have fountain pens when I was younger but I was too klutzy to use them–ended up all smeary every time. I do have one of those cool vintage Bics with the four ink colours in one pen–I don’t know what I’ll do when they all go dry!

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I found that they still make the four-ink colour Bics. Maybe they’ve changed the design, though. I remember first trying one of those at a craft fair when I was a kid. Smearing fountain pen ink is also a problem for me since I’m left-handed and also use cheap journals so the ink often bleeds through. Or did. I finally found a quick-drying ink that works really well and doesn’t bleed.

      Reply
  2. mydangblog

    I’m trying to comment on this post but it keeps saying duplicate comment detected. I hope my original shows up!

    Reply
  3. ANN J KOPLOW

    I’ve never used a fountain pen, Chris, but I still appreciate the beautiful flow of your writing.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Writing with a fountain pen makes me feel special but, as your writings illustrate, it’s not the instrument that matters but the words and the thoughts behind them.

      Reply

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