The Fountain Pen Rabbit Hole

These days, I have a modest collection of fountain pens 1, inks, and notebooks. I’ve designed my own letterhead for sending mail to friends and family. I don’t profess to be a Serious Writer™, but I do make sure that I have fun in the process!

How did this happen?

I began my fountain pen journey about three and a half years ago when I was stranded at JFK while waiting for a flight home for Christmas. At the time, my parents were in Charleston, SC, and there were only two flights to there from NYC every day. I had missed the morning flight because I couldn’t afford a cab on top of the plane ticket at the time, and it was a lovely 90 minute trip at an absolute minimum, not counting the 20 minute wait for train transfers in the early morning hours, however long the AirTran takes, Christmas crowds and lines, etc. Long story short, I had seven or eight hours to burn, and JetBlue could only do so much. 2

Luckily, it wasn’t a Sunday, so in addition to 8am teriyaki chicken for breakfast, I grabbed a Sam Adams or two 3, and tried to figure out what to do while I waited.

While chowing down, I noticed that there that there was a Muji-To-Go shop nearby. I had grabbed a few gel pens from their store in the city earlier in the year, so I wandered over to browse, figuring I’d stock up on some notebooks for a few hours of writing to pass the time. I was surprised to find that Muji had their own model of fountain pen. Somewhere along the way in life, I was under the impression that fountain pens were always pricey and expensive instruments that’d be out of my reach, but this was at am impulse buy that fit into my extremely limited budget 4, so I bought one, started writing with it, and promptly fell down the rabbit hole.

First off, it was nice and minimalist, not anything flashy or fancy. This was great because people wouldn’t even notice at first that I was using a fountain pen. 5 Secondly, it was a totally different feel to writing than ballpoints or rollerball gel pens. I didn’t have to grind into the paper, it wasn’t scratching itself along, it didn’t skip. It was a totally different feel in writing. I was hooked instantly. I found myself writing a little slower and watching my handwriting shape up a touch neater.

The real fun started when I found out I could get an ink converter and use different inks in my pen. I could totally personalize it, and that’s where all the fun starts! There’s an endless variety of inks. Dark, light, saturated, shimmering, shaded… the choices are nearly endless. I think I stuck with my Muji pen for a year and a half before branching out to a TWSBI, and then getting to use different nibs. This adds yet another distinction and personalization to my writing. Stub nibs and flourishes for signatures, mediums and broads for writing cards and letters, and fines or extra-fines for quick notes and personal writing.

So that’s a brief recollection of how a missed flight home for Christmas got me into fountain pens.

Oh, and Bill Murray ended up a few rows behind me, so I had that going for me which was nice.

  1. Five so far, including the Lamy 2000 I’m drafting this post with, which I think is my favorite.

  2. They DID have Christmas carolers wandering around the terminal and singing, so that made everything nice.

  3. to start

  4. $8 as the daily special, I think

  5. Now I have flashy ones when I’m trying to make a statement.