In praise of the fountain pen

A reflection on the art of writing by Alice Maxwell

I am frenetically writing up an article for The Voice. Delete, Copy, paste … delete, copy, paste… I must type faster .. how do you spell necessary? Thank goodness for the auto-spell. Beads of sweat trickle down my face obscuring my vision as the deadline approaches.

My fountain pen watches these proceedings suspiciously. “I suppose I will soon be out of a job?” she says sadly.
I stop typing and pick her up lovingly, feeling the well-worn metal between my fingers. My boyfriend gave me this pen years ago, and she is a trusted friend.

So far the article has gone badly. My pen looks at me reproachfully. “OK” I say, “you help me”.

The pen sighs, and firstly commands me to slow down. She can’t – or won’t – write fast. I obey and instantly my body relaxes and mind starts to clear.

“And I don’t tolerate crossings out and badly formulated arguments” she adds crossly.

So I take time to organize my thoughts in my head before writing a single word. But the pen is still not done with me.

“And another thing” she says. “I can’t abide untidy hand-writing and poor spelling. Chaos and mess are intolerable!”

So I take time to make my lettering as beautiful as I can and to look up words in the dictionary, committing their spelling to memory.
The finished article is well written and I feel pleased and serene. I thank my pen and offer her ink from a bottle.

She notices a bic biro lying on my desk and wonders how this poor relation takes sustenance. I confess that this creature is designed to die of thirst and instead of being replenished it’s unwanted body will be thrown onto a vast rubbish heap full of used plastic pens.

My pen and I look forward to a time when we re-use rather than throw away, and when time is not of the essence allowing the written word to hold the respect it deserves.

I resolve to use my pen more often. She winks at me, and I wink back.