Sunday, November 27, 2011

Southpaw hee-haw

I'm going to take a moment to squee about my latest acquisition: a left-handed fountain pen.

I wrote about my travails with the writing materials in this country before. Well, it just so happens that in September, I was in the V&D, picking up a few little office things, when I came upon their fountain pen display. Now, it must be said: as a fountain pen supplier, the V&D is hardly ideal. For true lovers of nib and ink, nothing less than a dedicated pen shop will do. For someone who's only ever dreamed of having that delicate, spidery handwriting that seems to come naturally to those who use fountain pens, though, it's a good place to start.

So with my birthday present (€20 in cash--I've never received cash in a card before, and spent a few weeks savoring the sensation), I bought a left-handed fountain pen. I also bought a few refill cartridges, and used one to test the normal fountain pen (behind) that we'd had lying around. And I have to say--writing with a fountain pen is a treat. I never understood why writers refer to the "flow" of ideas, but after discovering that it is possible to write something without mashing the point in the paper, it was amazing how smoothly and quickly I could write. Modern fountain pens, see, don't end in a real point (at least, the cheap ones at the V&D don't). The nib tip is rounded, in most cases, in the back, well-hidden from view. And this enables the pen to write smoothly, and a slight change in the placement of the slit means that I can push the pen along. Surprisingly enough the same was true of the normal fountain pen as well, once I found the correct angle. Writing with a fountain pen is, I would imagine, akin to driving a Ferrari: your own physical skills (handling the car, holding the pen) must be up to the task, but once it is, it's pure love.

As a bonus: the ink dries REALLY quickly--it didn't smear at all for the test page in my journal, which has ballpoint and gel-ink smears all over the place. I think this was the first time in my life when the ink dried in time, all the time.

I think I'm in love.


  1. Funny, I abandoned fountain pens because of the smearing. My mom and aunt are southpaws who do calligraphy. My mom enjoys writing Hebrew, because her hand isn't over what she's written, so it doesn't smear as much... :)
    (Hebrew is written left to right)

  2. My experiences with a fountain pen were a bit blobby. The nib tended to pick up fuzzy bits from the paper and would periodically need cleaning (acetone?). Seems like your on your way to serious calligraphy, though - have fun!

  3. @ Leah: I find that the smearing issue depends at least as much on the paper as it does on the ink. My journals have the nice thick paper, which soaks up the ink quite well, but I find that normal school paper still smears (but then again, EVERYTHING smears when it's written on that, it's just a question of how much).

    @ Dave: Nah, the fountain pen is just for the pure joy of writing. I'm no calligrapher...well, at least, not a very good one. Calligraphy pens are annoying little buggers, to say the least, and I've become convinced that, with those, you should be right-handed, or at least learn to write in a whole different manner (

  4. There is nothing like a good fountain-pen... even if you have horrible handwriting like I do, they make you feel fluent and somehow more elegant!