As I sit and write this on a quiet Sunday morning, it is two days after Fountain Pen Day, now celebrated since 2012 on the first Friday in November.
A fantastic idea, celebrating a wonderful hobby, interest or obsession — depending on your particular inclination. Perhaps in some ways it is also a timeless representation of days gone by, yet one which endures with a great deal of vigour today.
With so many well-timed and eloquent tributes both by word and photograph appearing in my social media feeds on Friday, why a post two days after the fact? I had the inkling of a post in my mind early in the week when the countdown was on in earnest, various giveaways and reminders teeming through the online pen community. Truth be told, I simply didn’t get my act together and actually write something in time. A quick handwritten post to Twitter or Instagram perhaps? Well, I sort of missed that as well.
To me, that indicates two things. The first that springs to mind is I have the luxury of writing — or not — as I please, given the nature of, and lack of any formal commitments I have with this blog. That very fact is something for which I am often thankful. Probably more important though, and relevant to the topic at hand, is the very nature of the fountain pen itself.
You see, from what I can tell, using (or even the act of buying) a fountain pen is something that clearly brings great joy and excitement to many, many people. And so it might, for I include myself in this group. The online pen communities are such a big part of things, and at times it seems these analogue and digital worlds are so intertwined that one could not exist without the other. In reality of course that is probably more a one way street.
The online world however is the ultimate enhancement to this great hobby of ours, yet the very nature of something like a fountain pen is also quite a personal and at times introspective object. Many of us take time to handwrite correspondence in a time when an email or tweet provides an immediacy not available some years ago. Some of the best discussions I have had involving pens have been through handwritten letters with those who have no social media presence at all. The irony of this — and back to my enhancement point above, is these friendships were initially formed via this very blog, and would almost certainly have never occurred without it (the discovery of course, not the friendship).
So how did I celebrate fountain pen day? Well, I picked up one of my favourites and wrote with it. Which one? That doesn’t really matter. What did I write? Looking back it was a couple of quotes, both of which are apt in relation to this post, so those I will share:
None of us can have as many virtues as the fountain pen, or half its cussedness; but we can try.
– Mark Twain
So true, for at times these joyous instruments might be a little high maintenance— yet all of that pales, whether it be when the nib hits paper in the arc of a flourishing tail, or seeing familiar handwriting on the envelope face in your letterbox. So I do not deny it might occasionally be about the perfect Instagram shot, yet at the end of the day it’s really about the pen, and equally so about the people:
Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you’ll look back and realise they were the big things.
– Robert Brault
I hope you had a great Fountain Pen Day on Friday, I know I certainly did.
Update, 8 November 2015: I had originally attributed the second quote above to author Kurt Vonnegut, however it was kindly brought to my attention this is incorrect, and was originally written by freelance writer Robert Brault.