We’ve talked about some fountain pen “rules” that I think we can safely ignore. Here are some that, to the contrary, make a lot of sense to me. Feel free to chime in.
Rule Number 1. “Use a light touch.”
Your pens really will do better if you write with a light hand. The good news is, it’s pretty easy to get in the habit.
Rule Number 2. “It’s safer to try before you buy.”
If not, be prepared to cycle through some pens.
This isn’t something to bemoan, necessarily, but just something to recognize. Some people positively love cycling through pens. Others don’t, but we may live too far from fountain pen dealers to test everything in person. So we may end up with some unexpected disappointments.
It may help to think of buying before trying as my friend does, which is to analogize it to fly fishing. Some fish end up in the creel, and some you will catch and release.
Rule Number 3. “A nibmeister is worth the time and money.”
Very often the only difference between a pen that is just okay and a pen you love is the nib. Very often a good nibmeister can do something about that.
Rule Number 4. “It’s not just the pen, but also the ink and paper.”
This is part diagnosis, part treatment. If a pen isn’t writing as you like, try changing the ink. Pen writing too wet and wide for you? Try a dry ink. Pen balky? Try a wetter ink with good flow. And try a different paper, while you’re at it.
Sometimes a ink and pen are both great, but not together. Or maybe a pen and ink combination is perfect, except on one particular paper dry time is glacial.
You can have a great ink, a great pen and a great paper, but that doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily bring out the best in each other.
Rule Number 5. “Remember to have fun.”
It’s not brain surgery. It’s not even driving. We can just have fun with pens and inks, right? We can wield our empty Sheaffer Snorkels as water guns against teenage daughters or other enemies. We can put blue ink in red pens. We can ignore the clearly worded warning from J. Herbin, and dare to mix two different inks. We can.