Many, 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?