Matthew Fitzsimmons

Becoming a Pen Geek

I mentioned before that I am working on writing more in terms of actually putting pen to paper. At the time, I was using Pilot V-Ball pens, which use liquid ink and have a very fine point. They seem to write more smoothly and with a better result than the Pilot G2 Gel pens that are so popular these days, and that I had been using, although I’m sure it depends on the paper.

Shortly after I wrote that article, however, I learned that Pilot also makes a disposable fountain pen called the Varsity, although they can be hard to come by unless you buy online and don’t care about spending more for shipping than the product cost. I did find them locally at OfficeMax, although they only carried a three pack that had one each of purple, blue, and black. The smoothness with which these pens write is impressive compared to even the V-Ball, but I felt that they bled too much on my Moleskine paper. I still used them, however, because they were so much more pleasant to write with. I bought the disposable fountain pens with the intention of buying a real fountain pen sometime in the future, deciding I didn’t have the money to spend on a real fountain pen right now.

I decided to go ahead and research which pen and ink to buy so that I’d be ready to make the purchase when the money was available. The average fountain pen aficionado appears to like a nice fat line, but I’ve always preferred a rather fine line. The disposable fountain pens put down a much thicker line than I was used to, so I wanted to find a fountain pen with a nib that would be fairly thin and would work well in my Moleskines with out bleeding or smearing too much. In lieu of that, I would be willing to use one with a fatter line, just because the experience of writing with a fountain pen is so nice.

I found an online list of pens and inks that are known to work well with Moleskines, and one caught my eye because the average price listed was only $15, compared to a minimum of closer to $40 for anything I’d found previously. I did some searching and kept coming up with iSellPens as a good place to get fountain pens, and particularly as a place that carried the brand of fountain pens I’d just discovered, Hero. I quickly discovered that iSellPens had even better prices than what I had seen mentioned. After much agonizing over the different options, I decided to go ahead and get a Hero pen, but not the same model I’d seen mentioned on the other website. The one I got was described as writing “a substantially fine line,” so I decided that would be a perfect fit for me.

Since I’ve read so many good things about Noodler’s ink, and since the bottles sold on iSellPens were a better price per ounce than the other options, I decided to go with that brand. They had a number of images with scribble examples of the various inks, and I went with one that laid down a finer line than the average.

The result is fantastic, in my opinion. The writing is very fine, although it depends on which notebook I’m writing in. My pocket notebook seems to not dry as quickly, so I need to make sure I don’t shut it immediately after writing something or it will smear. It doesn’t really take that long, though, so it’s not a problem. The line is actually thinner than my V-Balls, but it flows much more smoothly. One unforeseen advantage of the fountain pens is that my handwriting has already improved jut from using them, as it’s easier to write cursive if your pen flows nicely. I’m still working on improving my handwriting and technique over what just the fountain pen gives me. In addition to improving my handwriting, this will hopefully reduce strain on my wrist as I improve my technique.

The pen I got supports both bottled ink and cartridges, but for now I’m going to stick with the bottled ink. This is partly because I just paid for a whole bottle, but it goes deeper than that. I can’t really explain it, but it just seems to enhance the experience. Maybe I’m just putting on airs, or perhaps I’m looking to maximize the purity of my return to analog.