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First, buy a signature pen
Your signature and those personal notes to family and friends are the most
important words you write. For this, you want a good pen with a broad or
medium point. I use blue ink for my signature so that the original stands
out from photocopies. Lewis Carroll, on the other hand, often wrote with
violet ink. With so many wonderful ink colors now, have some fun settling on
your signature color.
Next, select your working pen
This is the pen you use heavily every day, even if you use a computer (I use
both). Choose a good pen of the type and point size that's most comfortable
for you. Generally I find that fine-point pens are the best for taking
notes. You can write smaller and get more on a page.
If your handwriting tends to be small, you'll probably prefer a fine point.
The bigger and faster you tend to write, the more you'll probably like medium or broad points,
which allow a faster flow of ink.
If you haven't yet, try a fountain pen
The trepidation lasts just for a momentthen this intimate way to connect
with paper and thoughts quickly becomes exhilarating.
But what about, you may say. Let me address some of those common concerns
about fountain pens:
"I always lose pens."
Maybe we should offer pen insurance! To a certain extent, a good pen is its
own insurance. Cheap pens are like common property: they drift from person to
person. Fine pens are not, and people recognize this. They're less likely to
pocket them. Here's a tip if someone asks to borrow your pen: keep
the cap. Pens without caps seldom walk off.
"Fountain pens leak."
When you drive a stick shift, every once in a while you're going to grind
the gears. Every now and then a fountain pen may leak. But don't let a
little stray ink take away from the pleasure of cruising with a fine writing
instrument. Remember, fountain pen ink is 90 percent water, so it will rinse
off most things quite easily. Try this preventive measure: when you cap your pen,
angle your pen upright rather than down, and use a gentle touch when
capping. This will minimize ink getting in your cap and eventually on your fingers.
"My handwriting is awful."
Few of us today have a beautiful cursive hand (though I admire the diligent
ones who do!). But you know what? It just doesn't matter. Handwritten notes need not be long
anymorethat's what we have keyboards for. Anyway, most people find that
using a fountain pen improves their handwriting just a little, as it slows
your hand just a bit. Even if you only print (as I do), a fountain pen can bring out your best.
And let me repeatprinting is just fine. It's still your handwriting that no computer
Once upon a time, as recently as 50 years ago, pen nibs could be scratchy. But
manufacturing methods have so improved that now even steel nibs can be
"They don't fly well."
Fly with your ink tank empty or full if you're concerned about your fountain
pen leaking in an airplane. Why it might leak otherwise: At cruising altitudes, air pressure
inside the cabin is about the equivalent of 9,000 feet (which is why the pretzel bag puffs like a
pillow). If your pen is half full, the expanding air could push the ink out of the
feed and make it leak.
"They're too delicate."
They just look that way because they're so beautiful. The barrels of
fountain pens have always been made of material that could withstand some
of life's harder knocks. The most delicate part, of course, is the nib. So a
good rule of thumb is to put the cap on the back of the barrel when you're
using your pen. If you drop it, your pen is more likely to land cap down
rather than nib down. And if you set it down on the desk, it's less likely
to roll off.
Absolutely! And therein lies the charm. Having withstood wars and weathered
the coming (and vanishing) of the typewriter, fountain pens still have a
place in our virtual world. The last mechanical reproduction of the feather,
they give voice to your thought, permanency to
your words, expression to your writing. They're the handshake instead of the
nod, the conversation rather than the message on the machine. With fountain
pens, it's personal.
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