Moving to Freedom, .Org

Pen and Paper

dip pen, from wikipedia

I press hard when I write by hand. It’s a slow and painstaking effort if I want my letters to look “nice.” I love the idea of handwriting, and the look of the letters and sentences, but I’m impatient. The words don’t come out fast enough, so I write with a keyboard. (And of course, digital words are easier to store and backup and search and copy and paste.)

My handwriting is performed almost entirely on Post-it notes. These are for transient things: Ideas quickly jotted down that I might want to act on soon, and miscellaneous items to keep somewhere in the vicinity of my mind. Sometimes they remind me to do something, but often I notice they’ve become invisible, or moot, and then I can simply throw them away. A cat will occasionally eat one of the notes. It’s a good system.

I also have a 3x5” Moleskine notebook. I’ve been trying to carry it around more to capture ideas. This is standard advice for writers, and it’s good advice. I’ve jotted down a few things, forgotten all about them, and then was happy to retrieve them later to be included in a post that a few of you will read.

Moleskine. For some of you, seeing that name creates a pleasurable sensation, doesn’t it? I just have these cheap cardboard covered ones. I’ve never owned a better one, but the idea of a nice Moleskine notebook gives me a thrill. In reality, I know it would be unbearable to use. I couldn’t write anything grand enough to warrant such an exquisite vessel. That sounds familiar. Let me check something…

Oh. I see I’ve internalized some of Natalie Goldberg’s wisdom:

Sometimes people buy expensive hardcover journals. They are bulky and heavy, and because they are fancy, you are compelled to write something good. Instead you should feel that you have permission to write the worst junk in the world and it would be okay. […] A cheap spiral notebook lets you feel that you can fill it quickly and afford another.

So true, and it’s the same with pens. I don’t feel right using a good pen, even though I love the look and feel of it. I prefer cheap pens. A lot of the time my main pen is one I’ve snagged from a hotel, or gotten as a freebie at some open enrollment fair at work. My only requirements are that it have black ink and not too fine a point.

Yet I can still lust after a good pen, for example: The “Pen Type-A.” I remember reading briefly about a Kickstarter project last year to make these, and how people loved the idea of it so much that the money poured in. With a goal of $2,500, they raised $282,000.

I didn’t read much about it at the time and had no lust for it until it showed up in the news this summer because of some skulduggery around the manufacturing of it. Interesting story. It made me look closer at the actual pen, and suddenly I wanted it. I felt the craving. They have a come-hither, desire-arousing page for it. My desire was much aroused.

Except, they’re asking $150? That seems irrational. Although… I can imagine it being so precisely machined, and so… wonderful. It’s engineered to last lifetimes, after all. A guaranteed family heirloom. They explain that the pen is an homage to a pen that they love, the Hi-Tec-C. (Sold as the G-Tec-C in the USA.) It takes cartridges for that pen, which is a popular pen and presumably will be available several lifetimes from now.

It sounds like a bargain when you think about it in terms of lifetimes, but let’s not be hasty. You can get the plastic Pilot pen for a couple of bucks. The point is a bit fine for my tastes, but still I wanted to try it out. It’s gel-whatever-blah-blah. No feathering! Etcetera.

I picked up a three-pack. It does write very well, with some caveats. It doesn’t work especially well for my standard stroke when I’m scribbling notes, but it’s oh-so-pleasurable when I slow down and let it flow. What a uniform and beautiful fine black line! I realized that the true destiny of this pen is to revolutionize my main notebook activity, in meetings at my day job:


This is the true joy of pen and paper. I love to doodle, and this thing is a doodler’s dream. I may even take up doodling at home, just to have more time with the pen.

Maybe I’d buy the Pen Type-A, if they can bring it down to $30, but still I think I’d prefer the $2 plastic one which I’ll actually use and not just caress and keep on a shelf. And, while doodling is never wrong, it’s more right with a cheap pen.

I bought a seven dollar pen because I always lose pens and I got sick of not caring.” —Mitch Hedberg