Happy Fountain Pen Day!

Okay, so Fountain Pen Day is on the first Friday of November, so this is a bit late.

I like fountain pens! Well, to be completely honest, I like the inks. I love that there are so many colour options. I’ve always used blue inks ever since I had to use pens in school. Not that those were fountain pens—using fountain pens in schools has never been a requirement here (I understand some European countries insist on this?), as far as I can remember. All the other pens, though: the standard Kilometrico ballpoint pen everyone had, or the more expensive rollerball pens, and those felt-tip pens that were the rage for some reason when I was in secondary school. (Pen dakwat basah, I think we called them. Those pens were terrible for people with chicken-scratch handwriting like mine.) But yeah, for me those pens had to have blue ink. Even now I have a number of the Zebra Sarasa Clip gel pens, possibly in all the shades of blue the brand carries, but I remember complaining to my best friend that the blues were too blue and not dark enough. I think she was rather bemused by the whole thing.

Then I found some fountain pens in my late father’s collection, and started to use them just because. I didn’t like any of the inks he had—all of them were black. So many bottles of black ink, some of which were probably from the mid-90s. So I searched online for blue inks and ended up gobsmacked by the sheer variety. I bought a few shades. I liked some more than the others, but actively hated none of them. There was no turning back.

These days, I have enough bottles of blue ink to last more than a lifetime, but every time someone in the fountain pen community posts a swab of a new blue ink, I feel like I need it. My favourite blue, for the record, is Robert Oster’s Great Southern Ocean. It’s perfect. That was the colour I was searching for, all the times I scribbled on scrap paper at the pen stands in stationery shops.

My pens aren’t expensive collectibles. Sure, they’re expensive when compared to ball pens, but when compared to other fountain pens, these are all at the lower end of the price spectrum. They are all practical, daily use pens. The ones in the photo are my current favourites. Left to right they are: two TWSBI Ecos (the blue one was the first fountain pen I bought myself), a Waterman Expert, a Pilot MR (both were my father’s, though I don’t think he ever used the MR), and a Lamy Studio. If you want an entry-level pen, I suggest getting the TWSBI Eco.

My handwriting is still terrible, which sometimes feels like a character defect, because all the girls I went to school with had the same, almost standardised, neat handwriting. (I’m joking! Mostly joking. Well. You know who you are.) I don’t even use the pens much. All the proofs I edit are soft copies, and even back when they were still printed, I didn’t use fountain pens to mark them up because the inks would bleed through the paper. But I still like them, so I ink them up nonetheless, and scribble useless things now and then. 

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