Day 26: Fountain Pens and Typewriters, favorite old-school writing tools

fountain pen and typewriter - unsure about the origin of this photo. please advise if you know the photagMany, many years ago when I was just a wee Tempest in grade school, I read an essay by a writer who stated that every writer needed to keep a journal and write in that journal with a fountain pen because fountain pens are the best. Being young and impressionable, I bugged my mother until she took me somewhere I could buy a fountain pen (probably Staples) and proceeded to write in my journal with it like a real writer and everything. The story ended in tears, though, when the fountain pen leaked all over everything and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to make it stop or change the ink.

Since then I have avoided fountain pens even though I did like the smoothness and ease of writing with one. Eventually I found that gel pens of a certain size gave the same satisfaction of gliding across the page without effort and I’ve been happy with them since. However, I find myself super tempted by fountain pens once more thanks to Mary.

Those of you who hang out in the forums may remember a post from earlier this month about a small tragedy Mary suffered. She lost all of her favorite fountain pens while traveling and right as A Month of Letters was in full swing. I (sneakily) got her to tell me which pens she lost by pretending that I intended to get into fountain pens, then I asked her friends to donate toward replacing them or send one as a gift. I’m happy to report that Mary now has a replacement for all of the pens, including the vintage one we couldn’t find, at first. That’s partly due to some of the folks here (thank you, by the way!).

As I was pretending to be interested in fountain pens, I found myself actually getting interested in fountain pens again. Mary has this affect on me. I also had a brief moment of madness where I wanted a typewriter after visiting her apartment, which is filled with beautiful antique typewriters.

Both fountain pens and typewriters activate the same section of my brain that tingles when I write a letter to send in the mail. Mailing letters, writing by hand, typing on a machine that doesn’t require a battery, these are all old school activities. They’re no longer necessary or the most advanced. This is part of the appeal. Feeling like you’re connected to some part of the past simply with the tools you use or the action you’re taking adds weight to the proceedings. It makes me feel connected to people who are no longer with me.

And who knows, someday I might be sitting in front of a computer trying to recapture my middle years while my grandchildren look at me funny from behind their Google Glasses. “You still use a KEYBOARD to TYPE, grandma? OMG.”

What do the tools you use to compose your letters make you think about or feel? Do they put you in a specific mindset when you sit down to write letters?

22 thoughts on “[Wayback Repost] Why do letters seem more daunting than email?”

  1. Having been a letter writer for several years now, I don’t particularly find this challenge all that difficult, other than remembering to do it every day instead of when the whim takes me to write. And since I may not have a penpal’s letter to answer, then I need to think outside my normal circle of penpals and write to others. I saw this as an opportunity to reconnect with a few old penpals that had lapsed, family members that live outside of the city, friends I haven’t seen in a while, and strangers or persons of stature. I think it’s a great challenge and maybe it will even boost the joy of those who process all this mail and deliver it to us. 🙂

  2. I love your post. And I totally agree.

    Email, tweets n twitters, FB comments all have their place and moment in time where they are the appropriate way to respond.

    However, sending a letter, postcard, or notecard is the only way to connect with someone on a more personal, even intimate, level.

    The act of sending a missive does take time, but more importantly it takes thought. What paper will I use? What will I add (stickers, washi, etc.)? What will I say? Combined these choices will be a bright spot in someone’s day. Added bonus? It was created specifically for them.

  3. Great article on postcard apps but you should also take a look at Postsnap’s easy to use postcard app.
    The app offers a number of unique features compared to the other apps reviewed including:
    – Guest checkout with Apple Pay
    – Extensive personalization options including collage layouts, stylish borders which can be adjusted in size with a slider and the option to add editable text in a variety of font types and colors and position it anywhere on the cards
    – iPhone and iPad support
    – Apple Pencil support
    – Facebook and Instagram integration
    – US postal address verification and UK postcode lookup
    Cards are printed and posted in our facilities in the UK, USA and Australia on the same or next working day and so cards typically arrive quickly. Enjoy!
    Stephen Homer

  4. I have been writing letters for several years now. My go to paper is Rhodia Premium or Rhodia Ice pads. I also Life pads too. I like them because they are not quite as slick as the Rhodia.

  5. I too love journals to pull apart for writing. For me the most important aspect of the paper is the pattern. I love to have some colour and some design on the paper. I’ve managed to find a number of nice colours and designs at one of my local “Home Sense” discount stores in the book section. Most of the small journals are a perfect size to fit in the envelopes I use. If not I just give one edge a bit of a trim (but sometimes I really like the ripped edge look too!) ;P

  6. Hi, Christmas cards & more recently a letter (a bill) from the UK to Australia have taken 3 weeks to arrive. The exterior of these envelopes were stamped with a mark such as this from the latest envelope:
    DLC 992-4
    The example quoted arrived at the Australian address on 28/07/2017, unfortunately it contained a bill dated 06/07/2017 which had to be paid within 14 days, by 20/07/2017.
    Why is the post so slow? What does the DLC 992-4 stamp signify? Would appreciate your feedback.

  7. My letter that I wrote was in September. The person who it was for still hasn’t gotten it and it’s now November….
    I don’t understand why it’s taking this long. I live in AZ and he lives in NY. I want answers.

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