I have spent the morning write-testing and adjusting pens, preparing them for sale, and it occurred to me that this is the most writing that I do with fountain pens. I have a scratchpad by my keyboard and I take notes with my trusty Pilot Custom Heritage 91, and that’s it! Greeting cards of one kind or another are rarely fountain pen friendly – the paper tends to bleed.

I used to address envelopes with fountain pens and rub candle wax over the writing to prevent smearing if it got wet but, really, that was too much of a performance and I regretfully returned to using a ballpoint for that purpose.

I don’t write letters any more. I used to have several penpals but with regret I had to end the correspondence as arthritis got worse. Official correspondence of one kind or another gets rattled out on the keyboard. I’m not a journalling type of person.

I suppose I wrote most in school and university. Hand-written essays were the norm then. I wrote quite a bit at work but since then it has gradually tailed away. It’s paradoxical that my day-to-day work is fountain pens and yet I write so little. I wish I had reason to write more because I enjoy my pens so much but the reason to do so just isn’t there.


22 thoughts on “Writing

  1. I sympathise re the joint problems – but I doubt that many people nowadays write to what we once might have called friends – it’s all emails and texts – big shame I suppose – but so much quicker.
    When a machine can correct your typing, produce legible text and not smudge the paper, who are we to argue.
    In the ’60’s I learned Pitman’s and touch typing – and oddly you never lose the knack – so can now knock out words at a rate of knots, and being a soft touch for the easiest way of doing something there seems no contest, and I’ve never been good at spelling anyway.
    But I envy those folk who produce copperplate with a full flex point – it looks so beautiful and timeless.
    Prior to the internet, writing to a pen pal had been a common social occurrence – now superseded by face book and twatter – the wanting to communicate is always there – it’s just the means of doing so that’s changed.

    Perhaps you should start a letter writing group – a prize for the most attractive and original content, and if anyone wants a pen pal – I can probably manage one letter a year:):)

    hadn’t thought of candle wax – I use cellotape stuck over the written address, to keep the rain off.

    1. I agree with your remarks about the technology. Email editors and word processors suit me very well. Mostly, it’s a matter of time. Time, that is, to handwrite letters and time for them to be delivered. I’m running a business here and time is in very short supply. I wish I could do more writing by fountain pen because I enjoy it, but it’s a long time since it has been an efficient way to do business.

  2. I do use fountain pens every day for notes etc and I do write postcards to my aged mother. I would recommend writing letters as the need to get it right first time and think first is a good discipline. I’m over 50! AND I have arthritis in my hands.

    1. As I explained above, I’m just not a letter writer. It has to be a bit more immediate for me. My mother and I swap emails across the Atlantic daily and we use Skype weekly. I’m sure she wouldn’t have the patience to wait to 10 days or so it seems to take letters to be delivered to Pennsylvania and nor would I.

      1. All my family are in England so its a bit easier. I rather like writing letters when I have time. It has a meditative quality about it.

  3. ‘Work smart, not hard’, is something I learned a long time ago. With that, writing using Word to organize grammar, spelling, format, etc. is too good to pass up whether it is correspondence of some sort or something else. However, I use one of my fountain pens for Christmas cards, greeting cards for other holidays and birthday cards to our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren (yes, at 67 – 3 greats!).

    None of us will write as much as we did at school back in the 1950s, 1960s or even the 1970s. My grandchildren use/d laptops at school. In fact, the high schools in Australia provide them to students. The schools my 12 year old grandson attends in California provided minimal handwriting instruction, and as a consequence his handwriting is barely legible.

    As a ‘leftie’, my writing suffered greatly from efforts to write at speed, or writing over or around notebook and exercise book bindings, binder rings, and sweating hands smudging pencil and ink alike in the pre-air conditioning days of my school years. I returned to using a fountain pen specifically to force – train, if you will – myself to work on proper pen hold as using a fountain pen requires. Amazingly, it worked. My handwriting has improved tremendously. And more importantly all the pain and stiffness I had from my typically left-handed, scrunched up, death grip pen hold has abated!

    With that, I’ll leave you with a book recommendation to consider. ‘The Missing Ink; How Handwriting Made Us Who We Are’ by Philip Hensher. It is available from Amazon.co.uk and is well worth the read.

    1. I have that book as it happens. A fine read.

      How much you write can depend on the work you do. For instance, as a lay magistrate my husband wrote a great deal by fountain pen, simply because that way his judgements and opinions could not be altered by others as would have happened had he used the laptop provided. Lots of politics in the world of justice…

  4. I had a continuous epistolary relation for over 5 years with venerable Benedictine monk, to whom I write at least twice a month. I write “thumbs-up-good-job” notes to my employees with my fountain pens – they just love it – as well as their Christmas cards. I write letters to my mother. I think that if you have a little creativity and caring for people, you can always find a good reason to write them a word or two – and enjoy at the same time your fountain pens.

    1. I find that many cards are fountain pen unfriendly. It may surprise you to hear that I have a little creativity, writing a blog and all, but on a personal basis I’m not one of the world’s great communicators – email and telephone cover my needs.

      1. I’m not surprised about your creativity Deb. Restauring pens is an art that very few master. I deeply believe that everyone has creativity. We just must find how to express our talent

  5. quote ………….”I had a continuous epistolary relation (relationship??) for over 5 years with venerable Benedictine monk” …………. gosh, sounds a bit like the recent revelations of Pope John Paul II’s liaison with a married woman – only joking:) – sad to say that I don’t know what the word ‘epistolary’ means….. Is it true they need the Abbot’s permission to receive letters?
    Perhaps it all comes down to consciously making time in our day to sit and write – most of us race through the day like busy bees, and then complain that we don’t know how to relax. Why do I always feel that if I’m not doing something creative than I’ve wasted an hour – I imagine that must have been how Wm. Morris saw his time – always to be filled with creative work of some kind – no wonder he died worn out.
    I need three lifetimes please to fit it all in:):)

    Takes so much longer to write than type, so guess we go for the quick fix, and just might also be that finding a pen with really good nib, that gives silky thicks and thins and floats across the paper, is more difficult than we think.
    I’ve an Esterbrook with steel nib that flexes like magic, and a Sheaffer that’s also a dream to write with…………… if only I wrote.
    Do people think there’s a favourite pen for letter writing?

    1. People definitely have favourite pens. I know I do. I have a very old Conway Stewart lever fill that I particularly favour. It has a flexible nib and leaves nice lines. I also have a very inexpensive Platignum (a No. 5) cartridge that is my daily use preference.

  6. I suppose I’m stating the obvious that using a fountain pen with the varieties of nibs they have, the uniqueness of the lines they produce and the abundance of ink colour available today allows one to express his or her individuality in ways that neither a ballpoint pen or the computer can not.

  7. “I used to address envelopes with fountain pens and rub candle wax over the writing to prevent smearing if it got wet but, really,……”. I’ve been using fountain pens for envelopes, parcels and postcards for almost 20 years and never had any problems.

    1. Hi Peter,
      I’m sad to say I’ve been using them a great deal longer than that! It depends on the ink you use I suppose. I’m sure the various waterproof inks will be fine. However, with ordinary ink, if the postie isn’t too careful on a rainy day, the address can become completely illegible.

      1. I’m fully aware of the potential problem and its’ possible remedies, I’ve just never experienced it myself nor have I heard of anyone who have. On different note, if I make any orthographical or grammatical errors I have a great excuse. English isn’t my native language.

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