Is a pen just a pen?

When I was younger I used an HB2 pencil for most of my work.  When I was a little bit older I was allowed to use a Bic stick pen.  Those were the tools of the trade for many years.  When I was in my teens I picked up a Calligraphy set for Christmas and tried my had at calligraphy.

I sucked.

I determined early on that my ability to write neatly was limiting my skill level in calligraphy.  I had difficulty with almost everything related to writing neatly.  Shortly thereafter I went to the University of Alberta and experienced the “quarter page cheat sheet”.  We were allowed a quarter of a page of loose leaf paper to bring in to our exams and we could write anything we wanted on that piece of paper.  I learned that a Bic stick pen was not fine enough.  I learned that printing was better for me than writing.  I learned that I could take a line on the paper, subdivide it into three separate lines and then write legibly on each of those lines.  I could easily take an entire course and put it down on this quarter page.

From that point on I printed with fine point pens, very fine point pens.  Normal pens weren’t good enough as I experimented with pens that had nibs 1 mm and smaller.  Up until recently my favourite was a 0.3 mm Pentel pen.  When I ran out of those pens (it’s amazing how a 10 pack gradually disappeared from my desk) I switched to some very fine point Sharpie pens.  While they were nice markers, they weren’t as fine as I wanted.  I then switched to a Uniball Vision Needle (Micro) pen.  A very nice model.

But something wasn’t right.  While all of these are nice pens they lacked something:  style.  Grant Adsit pointed out the Stylus store in town.  I discovered Fountain Pens thirty years after my calligraphy days.  While there were a lot of pens for me to look at I was scared of buying an expensive pen and discovering that I still sucked while writing or printing.  As a result I chose a modest pen, a Shaeffer 100.  To be honest, I am quite surprised by the smoothness of the writing and the quality of the pen.  While my $3 pens are good for many purposes, it feels better to write with a higher quality pen.  Although I have only had it for 24 hours, I am impressed by the quality of the pen and I actually want to write

If you have never had the opportunity to write with a good fountain pen, you owe it to yourself to give it a try.  It is a fabulous experience.