Saturday, April 10, 2010

The Joy of a Fountain Pen

I spent much of the last few days writing out page after page in longhand using a wonderful writing instrument which some people call the fountain pen.  It can be a quirky task if the pen has been allowed to dry out or if the nib has been injured but all its quirks are so much worth the distinct pleasure of placing pen to paper and seeing the ink flow as do the words and ideas.

Everything I write for journals, articles, sermons, etc. is first written out in longhand with this ancient but alluring piece instrument.  Oh, sure, eventually it all makes its way to a word processor (WordPerfect - I have used this since 1982, in its various versions, and detest things Microsoft).  There I do the necessary editing and save several versions until I feel it is ready to hit print.  But the first draft is made on paper with ink flowing through a nib that I lightly press upon the page.  It is a wonderful thing and such a shame that we do so little cursive writing and that we settle for something as clearly banal and utilitarian as a ball point pen.  I think we know this is pedestrian and have invented the gel pen to try and make a mass produced pen that mimics the fountain pen without some of its quirks.  But it is merely a sham.  If you really enjoy writing, get yourself a decent fountain pen (I might suggest a new Cross for a beginning or an old Parker or Shaeffer -- you can find NIB (new in box) still available on eBay.  And then you can progress to a Waterman or, if flush with funds, a Mont Blanc.  I must admit 30-40 mostly vintage instruments.  It all began with a Parker 75 given to my Dad who wrote with that pen (and wore down its finish and dented it) for more than 40 years and then returned it to me -- it remains one of my most precious possessions -- dents and all.

Give it a ride and your writing will improve.  I am certain of it.


Pr. Jim Wagner said...

Great article. I remember one of the great preachers of mid 20th century, maybe Paul Sherer or George Buttrick saying that he wrote all his sermons in lead pencil. Sermons, he said, do not deserve the permanency of ink. Likewise, one is more likely to change and edit with pencil than with ink. I have followed this advice for years, although I like good natural wood pencils - no glued, painted sawdust or eversharps.
I think I read somewhere that John Steinbeck started each morning with 50 new lead pencils.

Karyn said...

Pastor Peters, I am among those who read your blog posts when I can. I just wanted to offer my thanks to you for sharing your theological insights and "meanderings".

As to your use of the fountain pen, it's amazing you write all your sermons, etc. with it and I have to say "Wow" that deserves an acknowledgement of some kind. :) I remember using them in art classes long ago and some of the elementary school desks I sat in were the ones that had the old ink wells built in, but the thought of trying to use a fountain pen to produce all the documents you mentioned, well, all I can say is I appreciate your talent.

Anonymous said...


Just some thoughts about handwriting.... As my Bride and I were emptying the den getting ready to paint (had to move all those books on the bookshelves) she sat down to look through an old family Bible. She came across a letter written by her great-grandmother (my Bride is 62)to one of her children. In it she discussed her husbands funeral, the weather, and things needing to be tended to on the farm. The letter was 109 years old! Something young people today will never have the joy of discovering with all the electronic communication.

Thank you for all your posts. I am a regular reader, but rarely comment.

Unknown said...

Nice post!!Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures with us.
Pens with logo printed