Pen Confessions

Stephen King once described his Waterman fountain pen as “the world’s finest word processor.”

I have a confession: I’ve become a pen snob.

Since starting at TT Patton I’ve become used to writing with my LAMY fountain pen. The ink glides seamlessly on the Rustico journal I take notes and make outlines in for our writing camps. I’ve also been writing with a couple of other pens that are lying around the shop. The Acme rollerball and Retro 51 rollerball are my favorites because of their beautiful designs, ease of writing, and nice weight to both.

So when I went to fill out a check at home the other day, I indiscriminately picked up a pen lying around in our drawer. As I started writing, without consciously meaning to do so, I scrunched up my nose. This pen didn’t write like the others. It didn’t have the weight to lend its help to my small hand so that the carbon copy in the checkbook would show legibly. My hand had gotten used to not having to make much of an effort. That is what a quality pen will do.


I’ll admit when I first started in the store, I knew little about fine writing utensils. I usually roll with whatever pen happens to be lying around, though I had my box store favorites. I usually grade papers by hand (an attempt at online grading wasn’t the same). And it got me thinking that if I take the many hours that I do to grade shouldn’t I do so with a pen which makes writing hundreds of comments more enjoyable? A stack of papers somehow seems less daunting with a happy pen lying on top of it.

Hopefully all of us know the joy of getting some kind of new “toy” which motivates us to complete an activity. A new vacuum to clean the carpets, a new laptop to complete work, or a new coffee mug to hold the magic liquid that gets us through the day. Now when I think about the prospect of grading fifty research papers I think about which Lamy ink color I will use. Because a new (quality) pen makes writing fun again. And once you start writing with one, it’s hard to go back, particularly if writing is part of your job. So I tip my hat to the pen snobs, a club I am now a part of, and one which I am happy to be in.



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