It’s all about getting words on a page but I’m using a variety of tools to do that these days – or at least I’m trying to! I’m using a stainless steel Sheaffer Targa to draft this, an old friend I’ve had for more years than I care to count. The beautiful inlaid nib lays down ink with the merest touch, with never a hesitation or skip. I still think of it as a modern pen though Targas have been around since 1976. Not quite vintage, not quite modern.
I do most of my correspondence with a dip pen. I have a choice of nibs I’m confident to use: the Esterbrook Relief, the Macniven and Cameron Waverley and the William Mitchell “Pedigree” Round Hand. They all apply ink to the paper in very different ways and it takes a few lines for muscle memory to kick in and my hand adjusts to that particular nib. That isn’t limited to dip pens of course, the same thing happens with every fountain pen I pick up. As I’m sure I’ve said often before, I’m no calligrapher; I write as I write and the joy comes from producing my natural writing style using different tools. I celebrate my success in using the dip pen after all the years I thought I couldn’t write with it.
That celebration does not extend to the quill, or at least not yet. I see my friend Rob Parsons’ first attempt with a quill in Fountain Pen Geeks, an absolute wonder of beautiful calligraphy. Envy and jealousy are sins, I am told, and they’re certainly not good for the soul, so I carefully eject them from my mind and concentrate on the matter in hand. My first effort at cutting a quill resulted in a pathetic object, a miserable thing I didn’t even attempt to write with. But that’s okay. It’s a step on the road to mastery of that ages-old skill. I’ve read the instructions and watched the videos. It will fall into place soon and then it is down to muscle memory once again. When you get it right for the first time repetition comes easily.