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Flexible: Points (to consider)

Posted by Dirck on 22 August, 2012

I am not about to go into some abstruse romp on pens with loose points.  Rather, I’m about to go into an unnecessary repetition of a nice little consideration of the relationship between pen and writer, and why so many folks seem disappointed with their expensive fountain pens.  You might want to read the inspiration here.   You might also not bother returning here, but that’s a chance I’m willing to take.

The flexibility meant by the author I’m presuming upon has nothing to do with the pen.  Rather, it’s a plea to the collected writers of the world to be open to amending their approach to the pen.  The pen has little power of adjustment in and of itself, and even with the intervention of a technician is limited in how different it can be.  The person holding the pen, however, has a great deal of capacity to react and adjust.  Those who are rigid in their approach to a pen will inevitably have a great deal of difficulty in finding a pen which suits them, while those who are willing to amend will find a whole world of pleasant pens.

This was something that had been drifting around at the back of my head for a long time, but I’d never made an attempt to articulate it.  Part of my problem, if it deserves that name, is my inclination to chase vintage pens at a low price.  There is a long-standing semi-myth about fountain pens, in which they are formed to the habits of the owner and will never suit anyone else.  I say semi-myth, because it’s not entirely wrong, but it takes a long time to make these changes and it hardly renders the pen incapable of being wielded by another.  Unless the previous user was a particularly deformed, it is usually just a matter of hold the wrist thus rather than so, or aligning the point yea relative to the index finger rather than the other, and an old, high-mileage pen writes as sweetly as ever it did.  Like someone raised by yogis, I’m not just trained in flexibility but have a little trouble understanding that others might lack it.

I should have gotten a conscious grip on the matter, though.  There’s the constant griping about new and expensive pens in forums, while my experience with modern pens (a few of which aren’t humble) has generally been good.  Before I set myself up as capable of doing such things, I’ve had clients ask if I could do anything about the dreadful scratchiness of the pen they’ve sent me, and a bit of diagnostic scribbling on my part revealed no evident malice; the pens returned home, a note written with them, regretting that I’d done nothing because I could find nothing that needed doing.  It took someone else saying it aloud for me to realize how things stood.

Some pens are more willing that others, of course.  I’ve mentioned the Parker 45 as being notable for not liking to roll.  An old, highly flexible pen, will never tolerate a heavy hand.  The Lamy Safari will take almost any abuse and is willing to write at funny angles nearly to the point of perversity.  But, as I said before, whatever the pen’s limits are, it can’t step beyond them.

As I have set up as being capable of addressing such problems, I am of course reducing my business by urging people to not send me their pens when I say that maybe they need to examine their own approach to it before sending it off.  However, since if there’s nothing I can do with it, I send it back at my own expense, I’m actually saving myself and potential clients a quantity of unnecessary postage, and pens an unnecessary trip through the mails.  The first step in communication with a fountain pen should start with learning to communicate with the pen, and as the author I cite says (who is a rather talented amender of points himself), a lighter hand is best for a writer’s hand.

So, lighten up, get flexible, and learn to communicate.  It makes life easier.

Today’s pen: Sheaffer Admiral Balance (remarkably tolerant of roll and pitch variation, now that I check)
Today’s ink: Diamine Evergreen

One Response to “Flexible: Points (to consider)”

  1. […]  Those marginal differences translate, in use, into even more marginal differences in grip– I’ve mentioned before that I don’t insist on a pen conforming to my way of holding it, but such adjustments as I […]

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