A reflection on why I write with a fountain pen

I start most days writing in ink. I ultimately spend more time on digital spaces but this process of marking a page with a line of ink can only be called spiritual. It’s like riding a horse. There’s muscle memory involved; it’s an integrated process between thought and action. Most of the memoir and novel I’m writing were originally penned in ink on a notebook.
Technology defines us. But I do fear at times both the dystopia of The Terminator, in which rogue computers try to take men over by warlike means, and The Matrix, where the takeover is interior.

Last night in the bookstore, I read the first pages of many memoirs – sensational memoirs, “I was thrown in prison,” “I succumbed to porn addiction,” “in my Southern childhood, we suffered degradation so humiliating, I’ve never been able to be around decent people and feel normal since,” “I murdered someone at age 19 and now I found recovery.”

That last one seemed themost promising but it made me wonder where “I had six kids and my husband had no job and now I was running away across the country in a Suburban trying to find the meaning of life” fits. Does it fit?

It seemed to me these published memoirs were the type of thing which technology has inculcated, in which sensationalism and weirdness is required at all times.

My favorite memoir of all time is my dad’s, which is bound, but was self-published, not because it’s the best necessarily but because it’s the most about me. And that’s also why I love writing in ink on paper: it may not be as good as other writing, but it is really mine and I treasure it.

Great writing should let us connect with the writer deeply. But writing in pen and ink is a shortcut to writing “great writing” for myself: I don’t need to work on becoming connected. There’s a line going straight from my heart and onto the page.

One thought on “A reflection on why I write with a fountain pen”

  1. Having six kids isn’t quite as sensational as some of those titles but it’s heading in that direction. You could definitely sell it with the right bent. I still enjoy surprising people by telling them how many (younger) siblings I have.

    I also like your dad’s memoir. It made me think a lot about life paths or purpose or something along those lines.

    I definitely think that writing by hand has a tighter connection to oneself, somehow, than typing. And I definitely think of you when I hear of fountain pens.

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