A Guest Post for On Fountain Pens

One of my favourite pen blogs, On Fountain Pens is currently running a 12 Days of Christmas series of guest posts. The topic? You guessed it, fountain pens.

Maybelline describes the endeavour here:

Before the first day of Christmas, my fountain pen came to me: 12 bloggers on OFP.

…one fountain pen blogger a day, guest posting here on topics related to fountain pens and writing.

Although my pen experience pales a little compared to the other contributors, I was lucky enough, and feel quite honoured to have been able to contribute. My post is now up on OFP as Day 5 in the series of twelve, and with a title perhaps a little unusual for a lover of fountain pens, the full post will make things a little clearer.

Head over to On Fountain Pens to read the post, and while you’re there, check out the rest of the series, and everything else on this fantastic fountain pen blog:

Day 5: I’m glad you didn’t buy me a fountain pen for Christmas

Advertisements

NaNoWriMo – My Analogue Tools

The tools.
The tools.

With so many words to be written this month as part of my first foray into NaNoWriMo, I feared this blog would be a little forgotten over the coming weeks – and no, I had not planned ahead well enough to have written and scheduled posts in advance.

In a rare moment of wisdom, I came to realise my best chance of putting something up on the blog would be to combine the two. That is, participate in NaNoWriMo, and occasionally blog about participating in NaNoWriMo.

I plan to write a few more NaNoWriMo flavoured posts throughout the month, which is of course assuming the weight of expectation that comes with a 50,000 word target doesn’t crush me first.

So, with a tip of the hat to yesterday’s Fountain Pen Day, today I thought I would share some of the analogue tools I have been using to help plan out, and hopefully get written, the 50,000 words that constitute the NaNoWriMo challenge.

Notebooks

Various notebooks, pads, scraps of paper and even the odd dreaded yellow Post-It Note have all played their part here.

Although I have the overall plot and story outlined, my fear of running out of specific ideas to keep filling scenes, has resulted in a litany of places with either paragraphs, a line, or even a single word jotted down to avoid forgetting that great idea. Though I must admit, the more common scenario seems to be noting down why events written two chapters ago no longer make sense given the turn the story has taken.

This whole novel-writing thing is certainly not easy!

The paper I’ve been using:

Clairefontaine Essentials Notebook and Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite ink written with Pelican M205 EF Fountain Pen
Clairefontaine Essentials Notebook and Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite ink written with Pelican M205 EF Fountain Pen
Clairefontaine Essentials Notebook with Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite Ink
Delfonics Rollbahn Notebook; Montblanc Daniel Defoe Palm Geen ink (Pelikan M205 EF Fountain Pen)

Pens

(L to R) Pelikan M205; Palomino Blackwing 602; Retro 51 Stealth; Lamy Safari; Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique
(L to R) Pelikan M205; Palomino Blackwing 602; Retro 51 Stealth; Lamy Safari; Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique

Again, this is either dictated by what is closest at hand for immediate idea capture, or what will be most enjoyable to write with for more extensive outlining. The following pens (and pencil) have to date suited either of these scenarios:

Inks

I have found using inks of varying colours quite helpful when going back through my notes to either check off ideas or plot lines I have implemented into the story, or in highlighting areas that may require more thought or detail. The Montblanc Meisterstuck inked with Burgundy Red has been particularly useful given it’s contrast to the Safari’s blue ink, clearly showing notes made as additions to the originals.

Markup in Field Notes Arts Edition; Lamy Blue ink (Lamy Safari M Fountain Pen); Montblanc Burgundy Red (Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique M Fountain Pen)
Markup in Field Notes Arts Edition; Lamy Blue ink (Lamy Safari M Fountain Pen); Montblanc Burgundy Red (Montblanc Meisterstuck Classique M Fountain Pen)
Rhoda Ice No 16 Lined Notepad; Lamy Blue ink (Lamy Safari M Fountain Pen)
Rhoda Ice No 16 Lined Notepad; Lamy Blue ink (Lamy Safari M Fountain Pen)

Summary

The most used of the items outlined above is probably a combination of the Field Notes Arts Edition notebook, the Lamy Safari for note taking, and the Montblanc Meisterstuck for marking up the Safari’s notes.

The Field Notes became the notebook of choice early on as I my initial intention was to keep all of my ‘NaNo’ notes in the one book, and the majority have ended up in here. I found the larger ‘Arts’ edition the ideal size for more extensive notes, yet small and light enough to carry with me.

Delfonics Rollbahn Grid Notebook
Delfonics Rollbahn Grid Notebook

The Delfonics Rollbahn notebook contains great paper stock for fountain pen use, however the yellow colour is not the best shade to highlight any particularly vibrant inks you may be using. Certainly not a problem for the darker blues and blacks if that is your preference.

The Safari was not necessarily my first choice pen, however is only a fairly recent purchase, and the paper based planning of this project seemed a great chance to test it out. No real complaints here, except it has been a little ’skippy’ occasionally, however I put this down to not having given it a thorough clean before inking it up after purchase.

I am really enjoying the Daniel Defoe Palm Green ink, which is now residing in the Pelikan M205 (EF). Again only a recent purchase, however what a great colour! I am sure it will see quite a bit of use throughout the remainder of November and beyond.

My main (and only minor) grievance has been the extent to which the Safari Blue Ink has faded. Although most likely due to both the ink and Field Notes paper (the same amount of fade was not evident on the Rhodia stock), I would have preferred it to maintain the vibrance it had when first laid down.

NaNoWriMo itself?

With my word count currently just over the 10k mark, I am finding this an extremely interesting challenge. I was falling on the side of “maybe I’ll just do it next year”, right up until a few days before November 1, however would perhaps have continued to say the same thing every year had I not bitten the bullet and entered.

So very glad I did.

Gotta go. There’s an important word count that needs increasing!!

 

My Pelikan M205 Fountain Pen

The opportunity to pick up this Pelikan Tradition M205 was a little too hard to pass up back in May of this year, with Pen Chalet offering the model at half price during a period of The Pen Addict podcast sponsorship.

I was looking to add to my collection of quality fountain pens, and snapped up a black model with chrome trim and an EF nib. Ordering and shipping from Pen Chalet in the US over to Australia was quite fast, and in rapid time I was inking up the newest member of my pen family.

Look and Feel

There is no doubt the M205 is a great looking pen, with the black and chrome combination providing a classic, elegant look. It makes a great business pen – perhaps a little small in stature to be signing million dollar cheques, however I don’t sign many (who are we kidding – any) of those. It is also manufactured in Taupe, White and Red.

Image courtesy Pen Chalet
Image courtesy Pen Chalet

When capped, I find a certain appeal to the overall symmetry of the pen, and although not a large pen, the body diameter through the pen barrel is perfect relative to its length. The cap itself sits proud of the body when screwed on, further accentuating the central chrome band bearing the Pelikan and Germany insignia. An additional chrome band at the clip attachment, and another towards the end of the pen at the piston filler control, provide evenly spaced breaks to the shiny black finish of the barrel and cap.

M205_FinialM205_Nib_Cap_CrossM205_ink_bottle_pen_better

The finial sports the elegant Pelikan (pelican) bird and baby logo, with the clip shape recreating a long curved Pelikan (pelican) bill. The clip itself functions well, with suitable spring, yet is smooth enough to avoid snagging on either my shirt pocket, placket, or the Nock Co. Lookout in which it usually resides.

M205_LookoutWhen uncapped, with the exception of the fine chrome ring at the top end of the pen, and the dark tinted ink window adjacent to the grip section thread, the body of the pen is solid black, right through to the stainless steel nib. The nib itself is plain, polished stainless steel, with the logo, Pelikan name and EF inscription. Perhaps another chrome ring near the section may have been a nice addition, however would run the risk of creating a less seamless grip, and for the sake of appearance only is probably best left alone.

Constructed of a plastic resin, the pen is quite light (14.8g fully inked), particularly when used un-posted (9.9g), which I tend to prefer for extended writing sessions. Larger hands may find the barrel a little short for use without posting. A three-quarter turn will remove the threaded cap, which posts securely for writing and in no way affects the overall balance of the pen.

Performance

Great purchase deals aside, this is a $200.00 pen at standard retail pricing, and the expectation is that the writing experience will be commensurate with the price tag – that is, exceptional.

Others experiences

This is where things get a little interesting. Generally, when deciding on a pen purchase which will set me back a decent sum, I tend to consult the opinions of a number of pen bloggers who have tested and reviewed the pen in question. In this instance, that was not the case, as the podcast recommendation and great deal were encouragement enough to click the purchase button.

Subsequent to my purchase, I then read the opinions of those I hold in high regard who found the M205 not to their liking, and had I read these reviews prior to ordering, may never have picked up the M205 at all.

Boy am I glad that didn’t happen. I love this pen.

The reviews:

Pelikan M205 (the Illustrious) Fountain Pen – F Nib (The Clicky Post)
Pelikan M205 (the Illustrious) Fountain Pen – Update (The Clicky Post)
Review: Pelikan M205 Fountain Pen (The Well Appointed Desk)

I’d encourage you to read through the articles above for a full appreciation of the issues raised, however if I could summarise, others have found the nib “sweet spot” to be quite small, requiring a good deal of concentration to keep the pen within it, if the writer is even able to do that at all. This obviously places a question mark over whether the pen is suited to all writing styles.

Conversely, other reviewers have found the pen a delight to use, living up to every expectation, straight out of the box. Luckily I found myself in this camp.

Pelikan M205 Review (The Pen Addict)
I heart you: Pelikan M205 and Levenger Shiraz Ink (From the Pen Cup)
Pelikan Tradition M205 Fountain Review (Pen Paper Ink Letter)

On balance, it is therefore difficult for me not to recommend this pen, particularly at the discounted sale price, which is again available from Pen Chalet at the time of writing.

My experience

Sweet spot troubles? Myself, not so, and I would put forward a couple of theories on why that is. Firstly, although it is 17 years since I began using a fountain pen, my experience has not been widespread across different brands and nibs. Further, I have recently begun using pens with nibs a little finer than what I was previously used to, and in part appreciate the increased feedback of the finer nibs on the page. Here I am also acutely aware of the fine line between “feedback” and “scratchy”, believing I can appreciate the difference, however my experience on this may differ to a more experienced hand.

M205_BoxWhen testing further to get my thoughts together on this, I wrote with a more expensive pen (Montblanc Meisterstück Classique 14K gold M nib) and a couple of cheaper ones (Pilot Kakuno steel F nib and Pilot Metropolitan steel F nib) on a rotational basis line by line down a page for quite some time. There was a clear difference in feedback from the Pelikan and Pilot nibs when compared with the Montblanc, likely due in part to  the change in nib size, though of course material and manufacture no doubt play a part.

I could go on and about the ins and outs of these comparisons, however at the end of the day, my point is – for me, this is a great pen, and one I enjoy using very much. This is a fact I am certainly thankful for, as again, great “50% off” deals aside, $100 of my money still went on this pen. Whether or not $100 is too much for a stainless steel nib is for you to decide, however perhaps just shy of $200 is.

Writing

In my experience, the M205 writes extremely well, and I have not had any false starts, skips or unintended line variation in the three months I have used the pen, irrespective of the ink used.

As expected, the stainless steel European EF nib was still broader than the Japanese Pilot F nibs in a direct comparison. The writing sample below shows the Pelikan EF compared with a Pilot Kakuno F (Metropolitan F results equivalent) and Montblanc M, along with line variation achievable with varying levels of pressure, as the nib does demonstrate a small amount of flex.

Line width comparison
Line width comparison

 

I would also point out here that when inked with something like De Atramentis Permanent Blue, which I have found to be a fairly wet ink, the line is considerably wider than seen with the Pelikan Edelstein Tanzanite used in the image below.

Writing sample
Writing sample

Conclusion

The Pelikan M205 is a pen I am very glad to have in my collection, and is one I could happily write with all day. Its looks are commensurate with the writing performance, and it is a pen I use at times in the office, given it’s classic, elegant style.

As I have indicated above, I found no issues with the nib, however others have, so perhaps that is a caveat to consider before purchasing. Whether there is perhaps a question mark on the overall value of the pen if assessed at full price, given the plastic body and stainless steel nib is a personal choice (despite the gold nib, my Montblanc is also a plastic resin).

Personally, I would have no hesitation in recommending the Pelikan M205 to someone looking for a quality pen, and if you can pick one up on a fantastic deal like I did – go for it.

Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesday – a weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

Gourmet Pens
Azizah takes a look at the Rhodia Ice No 16 Notepad. I have linked to a review of one of these previously, however this one is worth having a look at for the gorgeous colourful test writing alone. I was also pleased to read I am not the only one disappointed by “messy tears”:
Review: Rhodia Ice No. 16 Notepad A5

Nock Co.
Nock Co. is fast becoming another one of those sites where you go specifically for one or two items, and checkout with a full cart. Are you kidding me? Now we have TWSBI pens and Organics Studio inks to throw in as we wander the store. Great value too, however the groan you heard was the collective stationery budget around the world stretching a little thinner:
Nock Co. On-line Store

Mac Sparky
Following along nicely from last weeks link to Les Posen’s Presentation Magic, now up for sale on the iBooks Store, is David Sparks latest Field Guide, which will help you create exceptional presentations. It’s also made specifically for the iBooks format. You can read a little more about it on David’s blog:
The Presentations Field Guide is now shipping

The Pen Addict
As I do not own one myself, it was only fitting I read about Brad purchasing his third! No bitterness folks. All jokes aside, I have always been wary of acquiring one of these untried, as I do have concerns the clip position may annoy me a little. This is a great looking pen though, and the title contains two my favourite descriptors, gun-metal and matte:
Pilot Vanishing Point Gun Metal Black Matte Fountain Pen Review

Serious Eats
Another article by Nick Cho for Serious Eats, this time on the science and technique of making French Press coffee. A coarser grind and longer brew time of 6–8 minutes probably a little different to what most are used to:
Coffee Science: How to Make the Best French Press Coffee at Home

Matt Gemmell
What better way to put down some thoughts on the lost art of handwriting than a letter. No, really… a letter.
Handwriting

Pentulant
A review of the Kaweco AL Sport, in a fantastic grey body. Why, it’s almost gun-metal:
Pen Review: Kaweco AL Sport

Kickstarter
If you are anything like me, consideration of various pen and paper related Kickstarter projects is a fairly regular occurrence. This one is a beauty, which I have backed to the tune of two each of both the No 1 and No 2 notebooks. The customisation feature is a winner, and though still deciding on the cover, inside it will be dot grid on Tomoe River paper:
Stateside Co. Notebooks

Wiser Web Wednesday

Wiser Web Wednesdaya weekly link to posts of interest from around the web:

The Well Appointed Desk
Whichever pen is regularly in your hand, you will likely need a refill from those listed here. There is an endless amount of Googling required when searching for refills or at least trying to determine compatibility. This post from Ana at the Desk goes a long way towards solving this problem, and is destined to be a classic:
The Epic Pen Refill Guide

Asian Efficiency
This continues a four-part series by Mike Schmitz for AE on the principles and systems of quick capture in the context of a GTD based workflow. A nice integration of nvALT, which is a super fast plain text search and entry Mac application that also supports Markdown. Part 1 is well worth reading also:
Quick Capture, Part 2: nvALT

SBRE Brown YouTube Channel
One of the more experienced fountain pen reviewers out there, and perhaps one of the most prolific as well, presenting us with regular high quality video of various pens, inks and many other things in action. Take it from Stephen, if you’re thinking of doing some reviews yourself – Do it! (whilst reading that, imagine 2 very pointed fingers in your direction straight down the barrel of a HD Webcam). Words from a master that suggest forgoing the second thoughts and writing about what you enjoy – its your duty:
Why aren’t you doing reviews?

The Fountain Pen Quest
With the Nock Co on-line store finally open, no doubt there will be more reviews and views of customers to come, however I thought this was a nice first look of some index cards I will certainly be trying out for myself. Pictures do speak a thousand words, and Ray has put up a great gallery which will give you an excellent idea of what to expect:
Quick Look: Nockco 3 X 5 Dot Dash Note Cards

Whilst at FPQ, also check out Ray’s post looking at the remaining pen cases from Nock Co.’s Kickstarter project, having reviewed The Hightower back in May (a model I have also been enjoying using on a daily basis). No doubt much of this inventory is going up…then down, in Nock Co.’s on-line store:
Review: The rest of the Nock Co Kickstarter Pen Cases

Serious Eats
If you read my previous post, you will know I have a keen interest in learning more about this manual coffee brewing caper. Nick Cho describes many of the principles and processes involved with this method of brewing:
Coffee Science: How To Make the Best Pourover Coffee at Home

Barista Guild of America
A short video (4:46) produced by the author of the article above, demonstrating those very brewing principles. Everyone who watches these videos screenshots the key captions and brew ratios etc right!…er…right?
Kalita Wave Coffee Brewing: Intensive with Nick Cho

Pens! Paper! Pencils!
Now that’s a pen. Ian Hedley’s great review of a gorgeous Franklin-Christoph, with yes, that is correct – 20 different nib options. I’m all for choices though I’m thinking perhaps that’s a paralysing one for some:
Franklin-Christoph Model 02 Intrinsic fountain pen review

Mac Sparky
David Sparks is back with another Field Guide. Although currently for pre-order on the iBooks Store (AUD $11.99) with a release date of 21 July 2014, I’m sure this guide to preparing and giving great presentations will be every bit as good as the previous four Field Guides (of which I own two, Paperless and Markdown):
New MacSparky Field Guide: Presentations

~ PD.