Why fountain pens?

The easiest answer is, “Well, I like them.”

And that’s really it. At the end of the day, it’s all about what gets you writing.

As a writer, I’ve come across “Writers Hate This!!!!! Become a BESTSELLER in just 30 days!” time and time again. But there’s no guarantee that 1) it’s not a scam 2) it actually works.

Why? Because every writer is different. Every method is different. Are there some techniques that might make you write better? Sure. But they’re not necessary. I have an MFA in Creative Writing. It helped me be a better writer, but people could become better writers without the degree.

(And if you look at certain awards like the Hugo and the Nebula, MFAs are the minority)

So it goes with fountain pens.

Up above you see a smattering of pens I really like. From left to right: Pilot Metropolitan (fountain pen) and my non-fountain pen go-tos: the Pilot Precise V7, Uni-ball Vision Elite, Pilot G-2, Pentel Energel Needle Point, Papermate Inkjoy, and the Grademaster5000–a red Pilot G-2.

Every single one of those pens writes well and serves the function of applying ink to paper. So if plain function is all you’d like, go with any of those.

But if you want to add a little variety, here are a few reasons why you should use a fountain pen.

1. It feels nice

As much as I loved writing with my Pilot G-2s or my Papermate, I had the bad habit of sometimes gripping too hard on the pen. Now, a lot of that could have been trained away when I was a young child but it somehow never took.

That’s not a problem with fountain pens. My Pilot Metropolitan (pictured above) is heavier than the pilot but I don’t feel my hand cramped after long writing sessions. Even as a lefty, it sometimes feels like the pen is singing as I jot down notes on whatever might be coming to mind at that moment. For those people with much nicer handwriting than mine (in other words, anyone with fine motor skills beyond those of an angry chicken) having a fountain pen would be a real treat.

They’re very comfortable and like a pair of shoes, all it takes is a little bit of research. You might even find that you’ll hit on your ideal pen from the very beginning. To me, it’s going to depend. I think if I were to pick for me it’d be a solid tie between the Pilot Metropolitan and the Lamy AL-Star. The AL-Star is pricier but it’s got a very comfortable weight on it and a better color selection. The Pilot Metropolitan has less ink capacity but like the AL-Star it has a very comfortable weight to it.

2. It‘s environmentally friendly (and might spare your clothing if you’re the type to not pay attention)

So, by volume, regular pens are cheaper. A pack of 4 Pilot Precise pens, for instance, runs you as much as the cheapest entry-level fountain pen (a $10 Pilot Kakuno). A pack of Pilot G-2s or Pentel Energels goes for anywhere betweem $3-$5.

Because they’re as disposable as all the ballpoints I used to collect. They get lost easy, and they’re just plastic you’re adding to the environment because let’s be honest, no one actually buys refills for the Pilot G-2s. So soon that pack you got for $5 turns into $20 and now you’ve spent more money than you would have on a nice Pilot Metropolitan that you won’t be so inclined to throw away.

And there’s something so…forgettable about those plastic pens, and that leads to problems if you happen to be the type of person to pocket their pens. As in, one day you’re just forgetting to check your pockets and the next thing to know you’re asked if you’re into Star Trek given how many red shirts you find yourself owning.

You won’t be so inclined to pocket a fountain pen, and if you do, you’re clipping it securely and taking it out before you throw your clothes into the hamper or The Chair.

3. The Ink selection is out of this world.

From the pens mentioned above, the Pilot G-2 has the most diverse color selection.

Let’s just eyeball the individual colors and say there’s 20 in total of all kinds. 20 doesn’t even come close to the shades available for fountain pen ink. The Pilot Precise comes in black, blue, and red. The inkjoy in about 18 varieties.

JetPens has 39 different shades of –purple-and that’s not all the purple inks out there. For example, I have the Diamine Scribble, a really dark purple you can only tell is purple if you swipe your finger right across it before it dries. Or the DeAtramentis Alexander Hamilton, a vibrant, Advent-colored purple.

I’ll go into detail in further posts about why the hell having such an extensive ink variety helps, but right now let’s leave it at that. It’s nice to have variety, and it’s nice to be able to have anything from SUPER SRS black or blue inks to SPARKLY GOOD UNICORN POOP sheening pink inks.

4. It just looks cool

My collection of Lamy AL-Star! Marco www.stilografica.it | Fountain pen  ink, Lamy fountain pen, Fountain pen

Why WOULDN’T you like something that looks cool when you write? The AL Star pictured above is amazing. Or take a look at the TWSBIs below.

Workhorse Pens: The Case for the TWSBI 580 and the TWSBI 580AL/ALR — The  Gentleman Stationer

You have such a wide array of different pen bodies and types and nibs to choose from.

No description available.

The above is my collection (that’ll be downsized by 5-6 pens soon) Each pen has its own personality. I like to sign official documents with my black Pilot Metropolitan M. I like carrying my orange TWSBI around because I have inked it with a blue ink and it’s the colors of my alma mater. My yellow Safari is inked with a ‘stain your soul’ blue ink that’s very loud and vibrant. My two red pens are my go-to graders (Waterman Graduate inked with Monteverde Ruby and the red Lamy Safari with Diamine Oxblood). My Moonman (furthest from right) is inked with a green with gold sheen after Robert Frost’s Nothing Gold Can Stay (Nature’s first green is gold…) a poem I teach every year in class.

And really, it’s kinda fancy. You’re signing something and then out comes that steel (or gold, or palladium) nib, you hear an audible bling somewhere and it makes signing even an attendance sheet a fancier experience.

So, I’ve settled on the publication schedule for this blog and hopefully, the [redacted adjoining project] as well:

Magister Mondays

I will talk about writing in general, the craft, genres, and just stuff that could be useful for would-be writers.


Will be my ink review day. All reviews will be objective and predominantly positive because I know that just because I don’t like an ink doesn’t mean someone else won’t.

FP Fridays

Fountain pen and stationery discussion. Next Friday: A discussion on the best starter pens or one on my everyday carry (EDC)

Published by obsidianpalms

Hugo Esteban Rodríguez Castañeda is a writer and educator hailing from Mexico and the Rio Grande Valley. He is the author of “…And Other Stories” (2018, La Casita Grande Editores) as well as other short stories, poems, and essays that have appeared in places like The Airgonaut, The Acentos Review, Picaroon Poetry, Neon Mariposa, Mathematician Transmission and the Texas Poetry Calendar. He is a graduate from the University of Texas at El Paso's MFA program and hus fiction has been recommended as part of Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net slates and was longlisted for the Wigleaf Top 50. He is currently a reader for RUBY Lit and occasionally freelances as a content editor for a publishing company. A fountain pen enthusiast, he lives in Northwest Houston and is most at home at coffeehouses, shopping malls, and mosh pits.

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