I’m twenty five years old. When I was born fountain pens were already a thing of the past for the vast majority of people in the United States. By the time I was finishing elementary school teachers in my small, backwards hometown were starting to require our essays to be typed on a computer and printed out rather than hand written. Suffice to say there are many reasons why I should have no interest or knowledge of fountain pens.
Even with those reasons I still found myself drawn to them.
A two toned fountain pen nib has, in my mind, been the symbol of writers for as long as I can remember. Even though I found the idea of fountain pens fascinating nearly everything I knew about fountain pens prior to a few years ago made me think that I would never own and use one.
First of all, I’m left handed and everything I ever heard about fountain pens (and that was very little!) said I would end up a smeary, inky mess if I ever tried to write with one. Looking back I probably should have shrugged my shoulders and tried it for myself anyway considering how many times I ruined or nearly ruined pages of handwritten notes in graphite over the years. (I’m still a bit saddened by nearly a summer’s worth of Yu Yu Hakusho fanfiction being rendered indecipherable by excessive pencil smears a decade ago.)
Another reason I waited so long to dive into the world of fountain pens was the expense. I was told time and time again that fountain pens were a luxury item that would cost me an arm and a leg. Now I know better. There are fountain pens out there that easily cost more than half a year’s wages for me, but there are also plenty of pens out there that are quite affordable for just about anyone. Even low cost fountain pens aren’t as affordable as the huge packs of Bics you can buy at Wal-Mart or Office Max, but using fountain pens is probably comparable in cost to most other hobbies that involve some degree of collecting.
I finally took the dive into the world of fountain pens when the tendonitis in my wrist got much, much worse from all of the note taking in college. I decided to shop around and ask for a fountain pen for Christmas. I got my first fountain pen from my mother as a Christmas gift in 2009. Once I got used to using it, the fountain pen did allow me to write for longer periods of time without pain.
Then I discovered another wonderful thing about fountain pens: ink. There are hundreds of different inks for fountain pens available today. I was no longer stuck using just the “popular” colors to write. If I want to write in purple I don’t have to use bright or pastel purples that end up hurting my eyes. I can use Noodler’s Black Swan in Australian Roses and write for pages and pages without tiring my eyes.
I’ve tried to be careful with my spending when it comes to fountain pens. I could easily see myself buying more than I could possibly use. So far I’ve done a pretty good job. Right now I have nine pens and eight different inks. My most expensive pen was just under $30 and two of them were under $5 (I got both of those in Japan and now I wish I had bought at least a few more while I was there).
Since I got started with my first fountain pen I’ve been writing most of my rough drafts by hand. The only notable exception is NaNoWriMo because I just want to get the words out. Fountain pens aren’t conductive to producing words at super speed, but they’re very good for forcing me to relax and get swept up in the process of writing.