Fun with Fountain Pens

I am a heavy writer, both in volume and pressure. Over my last Christmas break, I wrote so much that I finished three ballpoint pens across about sixty pages advanced study, journaling, and drafting. As you know, ball-point pens require some degree of pressure to make them write, but I would always overdo it. In 10th grade, one of my teachers joked that I wrote so hard, my pages felt like I wrote in braille. This bad habit always hurt my hand and, after a month of heavy writing, I needed to use sports rubs before going to bed because my wrist and fingers were just so painful.

Then in late January, after hearing about my pain, a good friend (now saviour) of mine introduced me to fountain pens. He gave me the basic run down about how they work and what their benefits were before he left me to roam the great expanse of the internet to uncover more for myself. Three videos into my pen research on YouTube, I discovered GouletPens and my life changed for good.

I became obsessed with my fountain pen research. At every spare moment – while eating dinner, watching dishes or just unwinding for the night – I would binge-watch as many fountain pen videos as I could so that I could thoroughly understand what I was getting into. I learned so much over those weeks of research that when I finally made the plunge and purchased two Pilot Metropolitans (medium and fine nibs) and a bottle of Noodler’s Heart of Darkness, I knew exactly what I was getting into…almost.

The first thing that surprised me about fountain pens was the fact that I needed to go through an acute case of “ballpoint withdrawal syndrome” before I got into it. I kid you not! Writing with my fountain pens during the first week was absolute agony and I still don’t know why. At first, I thought that the barrels of my Fine and Medium Metropolitans had different weights and since the medium’s barrel seemed lighter and I used the fine almost exclusively, I exchanged them and got some amount of relief. I have re-exchanged them, but I no longer experience that insane amount of pain anymore.

The second astonishing fact was just how differently one ink can react to various types of paper. Noodler’s Heart of Darkness is a “fast-drying ink” and so it quickly absorbs and spreads into the paper.  This meant that my cheap, absorbent paper was obliterated by the ink, even with my fine Metropolitan. I was distressed by this for the first two weeks as most of the paper I have is tailored for ballpoint or rollerball use. I did manage to find some paper and notebooks among my stationary that are more ink-resistant and they have been serving me well, but they could be better.

I have made many more discoveries over the past month, most of which is explained on the GouletPens website or Youtube channel, but the most pleasant surprise for me was my reintroduction to cursive handwriting. From kindergarten to around 5th grade, my school made us practice our cursive penmanship almost every day. I loved penmanship and I would always get good grades for my handwriting. I remember that my favourite letter “s” for some reason and I tell you, it’s still a pleasure to write.

Over time, out of rebellion, necessity and simple experimentation, I began to write in script. Children in public schools wrote in script, I needed to write script for scientific labeling and I wanted to break away from my school’s crushing oppressiveness. I remember that some students struggled with script in biology and chemistry class, but I was able to adapt pretty quickly. Until around 11th grade, I could fluidly transition between cursive and script, but once my A-levels began, I started to write in a script-cursive hybrid for the sake of speed rather than aesthetics.

Fountain pen research inevitably led to penmanship research and I realized that I had underestimated the beauty, delicacy and detail of my original hand. I had overlooked the significance of each stroke, curve and flick of the pen simply because I didn’t understand it or appreciate its significance. To me, it was just another writing system; to the world, it was an envied craft. Suddenly, after four years of neglect, I found myself reconnecting with my youth as individual letters drew themselves together to become single, unbroken words once again. I reveled in my writing once more and even though my cursive isn’t what it used to be, I thoroughly enjoy my writing now.

I know I still have a lot more to learn about my pens, ink, paper and other accessories, but so far, I am enjoying this much more than I thought I would. From InCoWriMo to just normal, mundane writing, I have discovered that writing can be akin to its own emotion if you are introduced to it in the right way. Such a simple lifestyle change has opened so many doors to new opportunities and experiences that I am positive that these pens will carry me a long way and to many strange places. The best part about this, of course, is that I know that I will have a lot of fun along the way.


Note: This post is unsponsored.

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