She drinks pints of coffee and writes little observations and ideas for stories with her best fountain pen on the linen-white pages of expensive notebooks. Sometimes, when it’s going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really just a fetish for stationery.
It’s only a hobby but I like to write. Lots of people have hobbies and, as far as it goes, mine is fairly harmless (assuming I don’t write anything libellous and avoid too many honest opinions). Sadly many years ago I allowed myself to be led down the electronic road and committed all my ramblings and clutter from my brain to a screen via a keyboard. To be honest this was a vast improvement on my content owing to tools like spellchecker (set to UK English) and grammar checker (careful not to take every recommendation as its sense of grammar is sometimes a wee bit eccentric).
In fact, this is a good point to take a side step for just a moment and set the record straight regarding language. This isn’t the first time I’ve mentioned this and I’m sure it won’t be the last but until the world finally acknowledges the truth and capitulates accordingly, I’ll keep raising it.
We still keep getting presented with a choice of languages when we use software. We are asked whether we require UK English or US English. Both the prefixes are superfluous as there is only English. This is akin to asking whether you would like duck or Bombay duck. As one has webbed feet, feathers and is delicious with plum sauce and the other is most definitely not a duck to the point of actually being a fish. So why are we presented with a choice to choose something when there literally no choice to make? The inhabitants of America chose to embrace our language but then stumbled and fell when they reached its nuances and idiosyncrasies. Now I appreciate that these quirks can cause confusion but that doesn’t give them the right to do half a job and then rename it in order to save them any further work. It’s like learning how to drive a car but not how to stop it. Please feel free to call it American if you must, although I’m not sure how the Canadians will feel about that, but please stop referring to it as English, US or otherwise, which it isn’t.
Back to writing. Having spent many years pressing keys and occasionally pressing the wrong key and losing several pages of work, I was happily sat reading a blog about a writer who, as part of his post, had been extolling the virtues of pens, paper and actually using the two in unison. Now I’m not shocked by this as I grew up in a generation of people whose only means of taking notes and writing missives was to use pen and paper. However, this gentleman was specifically talking about fountain pens, their aesthetic appeal as well as the experience of writing with them purely for pleasure. With my curiosity aroused I dug a little deeper and before long discovered an entire subculture devoted to fountain pens and the pure enjoyment that ownership and use brought. The more I discovered the more intrigued I became. Beautifully crafted pieces coupled with eccentrically coloured inks which allowed the owner to completely personalise their writing implement to express their individualism. I also like the idea of having some involvement. Slowly but surely manufacturers are trying to squeeze the end user from any intervention with their products preferring that we either post it back to them for minor repairs or even better still throw it away and buy another one. There are even some high-end pen makers that will threaten to void your warranty if you disassemble any part of your pen or, heaven forbid, use ink from a different company. Instead, they insist on its return which is never a cheap option. Thankfully firms like these are few and far between.
Now I’m aware of the irony of this post. There’s me writing about a blogger who’s talking about writing and using keystrokes to do it. I’m eulogising about this new tactile pen experience and also delivering this to the world from a keyboard. However, this is a thing of perspective. Irony aside this is about indulgence, aesthetics and personalisation, not pragmatism. For me, as a writer (or more accurately an apprentice writer), it’s not always practical to lug electronica about with me so when inspiration strikes I tend to go old school with a notebook and pen. This has the obvious practicalities but why settle for mundanity. In life when the opportunity presents itself shouldn’t we do things with a certain panache and distance ourselves from the herd.
So if you have occasion to pick up a pen during the course of your day why not adopt a flamboyance that identifies you as an individual rather than being the person sat there with blue Bic and chewing the lid.
In keeping with my ‘Buying British’ theme, here are a few to start you off