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Revisiting 'Why I Don't Use Fountain Pens'

black eyeSo, a while back, I wrote a post about the reasons I don't use fountain pens.

As you might expect, I was roundly chastised for my blasphemy. Dan at FPGeeks was gentle, while others were less so, including one blogger who somehow equated my choice to puritanism, and two gentlemen who agreed I was simply low-class.

Not much has changed since then.

Dan, I'll give you your unicorns and bacon, but for me, using a fountain pen is still like standing in line at the DMV behind a fat, sweaty orc smelling of garlic and dead things while using a rotary phone to try to get a live person at tech support. And the DMV Muzak station only plays Miley Cyrus.

But wait...don't start sharpening your stakes just yet.

One very legitimate point that Dan and several others made is that my dislike for writing with fountain pens was simply the result of not having given them a fair chance. I'd briefly tried a few fountain pens, didn't enjoy them and had given up – perhaps too soon, they speculated.

I'll admit, my experiences with fountain pens have been limited. A few fountain pen reviews here and there, a short dalliance with a Lamy Safari (didn't like the shape of the grip) and a no-name fountain pen from eBay that leaked.

I gave it some thought and decided that maybe I should give fountain pens one more try. After all, it took me a while to warm up to the idea of wearing Crocs, and now I can't leave home without them.

watermanSo I asked the Pen Warrior to choose a fountain pen for me. Something simple, good-quality and representative of the typical fountain pen. He selected a Waterman Expert medium-nib cartridge fountain pen.

Now, for the next 30 days, I will use this fountain pen exclusively for all my daily writing. It will be both my desk pen and my carry pen.

I'll use it like one of my gel pens, pressed into service for everything from writing down phone numbers on scraps of newspaper to journaling in my notebook. The idea will be to see whether I reach a point where I become comfortable using it and whether it will take the same abuse I heap on disposable pens.

So far, I have my doubts. Just trying out the pen, I've ended up with ink on my fingers and two shirts, and haven't yet been able to get the ink to flow consistently enough to write an entire sentence without white spaces.

But for you, readers, I will give this a serious effort. It may be that I actually learn to love fountain pens the way most of you do.

4 thoughts on “Revisiting 'Why I Don't Use Fountain Pens'”

  • John the Monkey

    "I’ll use it like one of my gel pens, pressed into service for everything from writing down phone numbers on scraps of newspaper to journaling in my notebook. The idea will be to see whether I reach a point where I become comfortable using it and whether it will take the same abuse I heap on disposable pens."

    That strikes me as being not the way most of us use fountain pens though - I'd reach for a pencil to write on scrap paper (or in extremis, a fine nibbed pen filled with a dryish ink like Pelikan Blue-Black). I use a Parker Jotter with a gel refilll for envelopes. Writing my diary, I use something more finicky (but also more fun).

    If you want a genuine all rounder, a Kaweco Sport (Fine, or EF) and Pelikan Blue-Black comes closer, for my money, than the Waterman. The (sadly discontinued) Pelikan Steno can do a similar job, but with a slightly more interesting springy EF nib. Even then, I'd not be writing on newsprint, or addressing envelopes with 'em :)

    Nevertheless, good luck with your experiment!

    Reply
  • Dan

    Tony,

    Glad to hear you're giving it another go.

    The only thing I'll say right now is that your pen shouldn't have flow issues out of the box. If you can't write an entire page, let alone a sentence, without skips or hard starts or any other issue, then it needs to go to back to the manufacturer. My $3 Pilot Varsity disposable fountain pen will write for pages without issue. Maybe you should grab one of those instead.

    The Varsity would also help prevent you from getting ink on your fingers and clothes. I still have no clue how people manage to do that.

    Good luck.

    Dan

    Reply
  • Zoran

    With all due respect Tony, but what is the point of going on about this?

    Except for pagehits, what is this adding to the subject at hand? You seems to have stains the moment you look at a fountain pen. I never had it with the Waterman Expert. My son of 11 years old is doing his homework with a Safari All Star and a 1.5 stub nib without having the same issues as you do.

    Does that make you dumb and him some sort of super kid? Vc/vs?

    Just drop it, tell me more about your gel pen and let's get on with this...

    Duh!?

    Reply
  • Shirl

    Tony, I like a pen that appeals to me visually. That makes the relationship start on a positive note. Then a nib which produces the line you like and lastly an ink which gives you pleasure just to see it's color. If you use these simple criteria when trying use a pen you should have a pleasant experience. All of this assumes you are not using a "piece of junk" pen. Read the the blogs, gain the knowledge and YOU select the pen that speaks to you.

    Reply
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