I have tried once, but not seriously, to write a story by hand. It didn’t work for me. I do not include the attempts made during my youth when I first started writing, when times were different and my mind drifted in different places, when life seemed far less complicated. The irony is I love writing by hand. Always have. I remember in school I used to jump between different styles, later settling on three which I used interchangeably, depending on my mood and laziness of hand.
Until I reached law school. Everything changed then. The sheer volume of notes and information I had to record forced me into a style that was both easy to maintain and practical for use over long periods of time.
Funny enough, it was a fountain pen that helped me find my true handwriting. I still have it. The pen that is. It’s a silver Waterman and it served me well in my law practice where I used it everyday. I took notes during interviews with clients, wrote questions and answers during hearings and cross-examinations. I’ve had this pen for almost fifteen years now. It’s the one above.
I haven’t used it in a long while, though, mostly because I type my stories and the notes I make and plotting I do–if any at all–I do with cheap pens. I should actually consider another attempt at writing fiction using only my Waterman.
It writes smoothly and glides over the page, and there is no traction when you do fast writing. The thing about a fountain pen’s nip is that over time it gets honed to the writer’s style of writing. If you use a different handwriting, you’ll feel the nip scratch the paper and that is why a lot of people don’t like using the pen. They think it uncomfortable.
I have a few fountain pens in my collection. I’ve also the very first one I ever bought. A black Parker. The plastic of the barrel worn dull now, has a slight reddish, rust-colored tint to it and a fine crack is visible where it screws into the nib assembly. Every now and then I might get an urge and refill it and use it in my journals. The same with the Waterman. I should pay them more respect, though. They came through harsh times with me and survived.
You’re probably wondering why I chose to write about fountain pens today. I found an article where Neil Gaiman talks about writing by hand and about fountain pens and about fiction, and that got my own thoughts going on the subject. Gaiman enjoys writing his stories by hand. He writes his first draft in a journal with a fountain pen. After that he types it up. He loves how the story develops when he writes it with a fountain pen. To him it feels like playing while typing feels like work. On a whim he wrote Stardust by hand. That hooked him.
I still love writing by hand. I really enjoy it. I don’t do it as often as I should, but then I do use my notebooks and journals.
I guess it’s not the same thing.