On Fountain Pens

This post is in no direct way tech related and will appeal to about three people. Sorry.

I listen to a lot of podcasts. So many that I often find myself skipping episodes if the show notes don't appeal to me. One podcast that I almost never skip is the Pen Addict podcast1. Lately they've been really getting into fountain pen stuff and to be honest it's turned me off a little bit. But it's not entirely their fault.

Historically, I've not been a huge fan of fountain pens. This is most likely due to my one and only prior experience with them. At some point in college I picked up some random fountain pen, probably in Staples, and tried using it. It was god-awful. There was feathering and bleed-through all over the place. It was scratchy and the ink didn't flow evenly. In short, a total mess from cap to nib.

But from a more practical perspective, fountain pens tend to feel a bit long for me when the cap is posted; the balance feels off in my delicate non-meatclub hands. Plus I'm a clicky-top man - caps just get in my way.

That being said, I've decided to give fountain pens another shot. Maybe hearing Myke and Brad talk about it so much finally got through my sometimes thick skull.

I had some Amazon gift cards burning a hole in my pocket so on a whim I decided to order a fine nib Lamy Safari and some black ink cartridges2. When they got here, I loaded up the pen, tested it out, and was horribly disappointed. Had I done some research first, I would have realized that "Lamy Black" ink is really more like "Lamy Kinda Greyish" ink. And the fine nib was a smidge too broad for my liking.

Experiment over then, right? Total failure, I knew it fountain pens suck, etc., etc. Eh, not quite. That same day I did what any good nerd would do: I overcompensated and bought more stuff. I ordered an extra fine nib, converter, and what looked to be the blackest ink I could find.

When that order arrived, I carefully swapped out the nib, installed the converter and sucked up some ink (of course, I still managed to get ink all over my fingers). The difference was glaring. It now put down a nicer, smoother, and thinner line in a significantly darker black. It was a perfect joy to use. Mostly. There are still a couple of things that prevent me from using it as much as I'd like.

The biggest problem is that I use a Moleskine daily planner as my daily log book/journally thing, and Moleskine's shitty paper is notoriously not fountain pen friendly3. I'm actually surprised at how well it does with the EF nib, but I'm not completely sold yet. I just don't trust it.

The second reason is a bit silly. I don't tend to write that much down in the course of a day. My job doesn't necessarily require it, and I'm obviously not writing down personal stuff on company time. On the home front, I have two little people to chase around and that doesn't leave much time for such pursuits.

And that's about it. While I'm not ready to call myself a "fountain pen user", I have reconsidered my position on the matter. Emerson said, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds." Brad and Myke have made my mind just a little bit bigger.

And given me yet another thing to spend money on.

So angry.

  1. Despite my wife's good-natured ridicule.  

  2. It shipped with a blue cartridge, but I'm a black ink kind of guy. Although I will say, the Noodler's 54th Massachusetts blue-black is very intriguing to me. 

  3. Seriously, if anyone knows of a daily planner that is exactly like the Moleskine in every way, but with good paper, I beg of you to let me know. 

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