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A fondness for the fountain pen, but more so, for writing by hand

“To sit at one’s table on a sunny morning, with four clear hours of uninterruptible security, plenty of nice white paper, and a fountain pen — that is true happiness.” – Winston Churchill

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The fountain pen is a thing of beauty. A fountain pen is a wonderful writing instrument that offers the true pleasure of writing. It infuses the fondness and patience within. I was fortunate to have developed a fondness for the fountain pen, but more so, for the very act of writing by hand.

It was from a very young age, having seen the handwriting of my grandfather and others, that a fondness for writing by hand had emerged in me.  My grandfather wrote beautifully.  It was a kindness to patiently spend time with me, holding my hand, and teaching me to form each alphabet of the English language one-by-one.  He taught me to write between the ruled sheets of the notebook, so that, I could write in a straight line even on a blank page.  Later on, learning how to write by hand advanced to cursive writing from writing in all capital letters or small letters.  So, after the initial hard work, and gaining the requisite skill, it just becomes a pleasure.  One doesn’t need to even think about writing; it just flows from the mind to the hand.

Come to think of it, it was surely a good thing to have been born at that time.  There were no electronic gadgets to offer ease, or, distraction.  It was a pleasure to be immersed in one’s work or one’s hobby.  To be in an environment conducive to such concerted effort is a good thing to have!

The insistence on having a fountain pen

It was actually not at home, but at school that this insistence on having a fountain pen came about.  At home, I had begun with a pencil, and, even using chalk on board for some very early time.  Later, it was a roller ball-point pen.  However, I think, it was a language teacher in 5th grade who insisted that only with a fountain pen does one truly get to understand the value of writing.  In those days, we were studying a number of subjects.  Some subjects required one to write fast, while in language, the beauty of the writing is also very important.  So, her insistence was not unreasonable; just, narrow.  However, I do thank her for insisting!

There was another teacher, about a year or so later – also a language teacher – who wanted us to use different colored inks for different things – green, black, and blue.  I can’t recall exactly what those different things were, but she had some clear ideas about what they might be.  The only color she did not want us, students, to use was, red.  She reserved red for herself to critique our finished assignments and give us marks on our tests!  Well, she was fine, too, in her thinking.

“To sit at one’s table on a sunny morning, with four clear hours of uninterruptible security, plenty of nice white paper, and a fountain pen — that is true happiness.”

— Winston Churchill

A fountain pen at last

So, coming back to fountain pens, I made known to grandfather the need for one.  His immediate thought was, I and the other students were much too young to be using an instrument that required care and responsibility.  He was also thinking, that a fountain pen would be expensive.  Thus, it could be stolen or damaged.  Children need not have one, and may not even be fit to use one at such a stage.

Anyway, we went to a local stationery shop, and my grandpa found out that there exist a lot of good-looking, functional, inexpensive, large-barrelled fountain pens, especially for students. Those pens came in all different colors and shapes. To get one that was both beautiful and distinct would be a good idea.  So, we got a couple of fountain pens, and those were different-looking from what many of the other students got.  In case, a student was to steal mine, it would easily be identified.  Breaking someone else’s fountain pen at school wouldn’t have been a good idea anyway, with a few strict teachers around.

“What I didn’t realize was how many doors the act of writing unlocks, as if my Dad’s old fountain pen wasn’t really a pen at all, but some strange variety of skeleton key.”

— Stephen King (The Green Mile)

The pleasure of writing

As noted in an earlier post, the pleasure of writing is truly by hand holding a good pen – a fountain pen, especially. One ought to have the time and the mood for it, but one may also discover, the very act of holding a good fountain pen in hand brings one in the mood to write!

A fountain pen is a thing of beauty, of wonder.
The pleasure, the mood, the fountain pen.

At school, sitting in a classroom full of students, it was a different atmosphere with all using their fountain pens. Some of us got into the habit of using our fountain pens even during other periods, not just during language study. I remember, one of my classmates who had the Hero fountain pen. His writing was so small, but it was immaculately clean. The teacher got used to it. My writing was bold and stylish, but never as clean as his.

The memories we form as we write

One of the very important aspects that is missing from peoples’ lives today, for those who still remember writing by hand, is the formation of memories. Writing by hand has a whole mental and emotional mechanism at work, something that all but disappears when typing on a keyboard. Of course, typing offers greater speed; aside from the fact, modern software has so many features that traditional writing by hand could not ever offer. There is, the ready access to a dictionary, spell-check, different colors and fonts, etc. Still, the tradition of writing, especially with the fountain pen offers an unparalleled charm

Children these days might be deprived of that formation of memories. And when there is a deprivation of forming such memories, there is also something vital taken away from the personality. Isn’t it so?

A recommendation for the old ways of writing

Since the option is available today, why not make use of it? By all means, do enjoy the benefits of technology, and of typing. However, if you take out the time to write by hand using a pen – especially a fountain pen – you would discover your mind and heart going to a better place.

And if you have enjoyed considering the tradition of writing with a fountain pen, then surely, you would also enjoy some classical music to go with it!

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