My fountain pen usage was up a lot this week. I journaled every day, filling about 7 pages. A low page count, but at least I wrote consistently. I also wrote a couple article drafts and worked through a few ideas in writing. This filled another dozen or so 8.5″ X 11″ pages.
In addition, I was motivated to refresh my currently inked pens. I also broke with tradition and flushed several fountain pens before their time, even though they were problem free. I ended up with a lot of ink on my fingers on Thursday. I’m not sure how, I only filled two pens that day. If I could have measured it, I wouldn’t have been shocked to have more ink on my hands than in either pen. Which is disappointing since it was Sheaffer Peacock Blue and R&K Blau-Schwarz LE, and I’m down to my last bottle of each ink, neither of which is made anymore. The pens removed from the rotation are listed below, in the Out of Rotation section, while all my ink pens, carry-overs and newly inked, are listed in the next section.
Finally I made a decision that will significantly step up my fountain pen usage in November, assuming I follow through. More on this later.
I spent some time thinking about the next way to ink my pens in order to keep them fresh. It didn’t take long for me to realize I was wasting my time. No matter what “rules” I create, I’ll simply ink the pens I want, when I want, using the ink that catches my eye at the time. Or, I won’t ink any pens because none have been written dry. Going forward, unless the pen has some valuable, limited supply ink (ie. Montblanc Bordeaux or Racing Green) I’m not going to hesitate flushing it out when I get tired of it. I may also return to routinely flushing pens at the end of the month. So, I’ve got 10 pens inked up going into November. I only partially filled the converter for some of the pens.
The green Diplomat Aero was inked up back in mid-September.
The Esterbrook OS Estie Seaglass is new. I gave it a straight-forward, well behaved ink as its first fill. It also happens to be my favorite blue-black. When it runs dry I plan to switch to the MV adapter and use some vintage Esterbook nibs.
The Esterbrook OS Estie Maraschino Cherry was down to the ink in the feed. I refilled it with the same Sheaffer Red ink.
I took a brass shim to the Fisher of Pens Hermes nib and increased the flow a bit. With the dry indoor heat coming soon, the flow problems will probably return. It’s too soon to say the flow problems are resolved. But, the pen is wetter, but not too wet for my tastes, so I’m optimistic. I’m especially happy that I didn’t bend the tines.
I’m happy to get the F-C Model 20 Gemstone back in the rotation. I love the look.
Right now, the Spoke Icon is my journaling pen. When it runs dry the Kanilea Kona Cherry will replace it. I miss having Montblanc Bordeaux in my journal, so I may swap them earlier.
The Sailor Ringless is closest to empty, having only the drops left in the feed. I do like using the Zoom nib for headings and other bold text. I use it to label my Traveler’s Notebook weekly planner, when I use it. I’ll probably refill it with the same color and it will go another 10 months. Yes, I don’t write with it a lot. But I do love the nib for doodling and notes.
I’m enjoying the thin blade turk nib of the Sheaffer Legacy. Blue is one of my least favorite pen colors, but I do like this one. It’s a custom body, made by Franklin-Christoph, making the pen unique, while still having a Sheaffer look that I love. The Mark Bacas grind made a terrific Sheaffer nib even better.
The Spoke Icon is new and I wrote about it here. It’s still on its first fill, but it’s down to just the ink in the feed. I had planned to switch inks, but I’m really enjoying the basic Waterman Blue-Black. I may simply top it off.
The ystudio Classic Desk Pen in Copper finally returned to my desk. For some reason I like having purple ink in this pen.
I have ten pens inked up, which coincidently, is how many I will empty next month, based on my back-of-the-envelope math. Why is that?
November is National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). I’m not a novelist, or any type of fiction writer, so the literal meaning of the month is wasted on me. In the past I considered doing something to force me to use my pens. (Honestly, 50K words was never a serious consideration.)
Two paths collided this week, which persuaded me to act. First, I was suffering severe angst for not using my pens. I was debating a “strategy” for inking my pens, which was stupid since inking them wasn’t my problem, using them was. While not a good solution, I think this contributed to me selling two pens at a significant discount simply to move them on to a place they’ll get some love. Then the Pen Addict podcast talked about NaNoWriMo for non-novelists (The discussion starts at about the 36 minute mark.) This was the kick in the pants that I needed.
In short, NaNoWriMo is a month where the goal is to write 50K words during the month. It promotes creative writing and targets authors, and future authors. The podcast talked about several strategies to use if, like me, you aren’t a novelist. I’m still deciding between two main strategies. Yes, tomorrow is November 1st, so I need to decide fast.
First off, my primary goal is simply to use my fountain pens, ink and paper. The secondary goal is to improve my penmanship. Writing a novel is decidedly not my goal.
After some quick calculations, rounded for easy math, I decided I needed to do 2,000 words a day. This does allow skipping 5 days, or having a couple of sub-par days. I figure I can allow 2 hours a day, although I do have misgivings about having that time available every day. If I assume 250 words a page, that means I need to write a page every 15 minutes (like I said, rough math and easy rounding).
The first option is to write a fictional story, true to the NaNoWriMo spirit. Like I said, I’m not a writer, there’s no end product, and pages may go straight to the trash. I haven’t done any prep work for a novel. It would be seat of my pants writing. My thought is that it would be fun to exercise these brain cells, but I do think it’s a recipe for frustration and failure. Notice my goals lack anything resembling a written product, so any words on paper would be fine, meaning I only need to clear a low bar.
Along these lines I sat down one morning and started a story. It took exactly 30 minutes for me to get 276 words down on a page. I assume I’d get slightly faster as I get into the swing of it. But, there is a chance I would slow down as my brain strains itself trying to pull 2000 words out of thin air that resemble a story. Doubling my speed to fit into the two hour budget seems unlikely.
This was the final nail in the coffin of a traditional NaNoWriMo for me.
The second option is to transcribe a book. The risk here is I would lose interest rather quickly, especially if I’d already read the book. I’d start focusing on reaching the word goal as quickly as possible while ignoring penmanship. Eventually I’d lose all interest and stop. So, one evening I sat down to transcribe from a book. It took me 14 minutes to transcribe 282 words from The Score. That was going slightly slower than normal, in order to try and improve my penmanship.
It looks like the book transcription is the method that has the best chance to stay under my two hour budget. So, I’m leaning towards doing a book transcription. It also has the added benefit that I won’t have to think about what to write.
I would like to create usable output – I do want to get back to writing more posts for this site, even without NaNoWriMo. I’m also considering starting another website. So, I will make the caveat that any handwritten drafts for articles will count towards the NaNoWriMo number. Typing won’t count, just words with fountain pens. Journaling, which I already do regularly, won’t count towards the word count.
I did a few sample pages, plus I pulled out some older drafts that were still available. The words per page were very consistent. I’m not going to physically count every word in November. I plan to use the Doane Paper Large Writing pad and I’ve already determined that 275 words per page is a good estimate for my writing. I already have enough of them for the month (and beyond). I’ll start off with a goal of 8 pages per day as a way to build a little bit of a buffer and allow days off. I won’t consider it a failure it I write a couple hours a day and improve my penmanship. I also know myself well enough that if I write consistently the entire month of November, I will continue on into December, probably not 50K words, but more than I’ve done in October.
I also stocked a couple bottles of bourbon for the evening writing sessions. It’s coffee for the morning sessions.
One incentive for me is the thought of writing multiple pens dry during the month. I like that idea. One thought is to pick a pen and use it until it’s dry. The other idea is to switch pens every day, or even every writing session. I’m leaning towards using a pen until it’s dry. It would be a rewarding way to mark progress. But I won’t hesitate to switch pens if one calls out to me.
Additional NaNoWriMo Links
Current Reads, Watches & Listens
I stopped reading Three-Ten to Yuma and Other Short Stories by Elmore Leonard. I hadn’t gotten very far when the loan was up. Rather than renew, I simply returned it. I won’t say it was a bad book, but westerns aren’t at the top of my reading list.
Reading: The Score by Richard Stark (Donald E. Westlake). The fifth installment in the Parker series. I went back to the comfort and easy reading of a Stark crime novel. I haven’t started this one yet and will use it as the novel I transcribe for NaNoWriMo.
- REJOICE! The Esterbrook (Kenro) OS Estie (EF) that was ordered in July arrived on Thursday.
- Pelikan M815 Striped Metal (F): Sold and sent to a better home.
- Sailor Pro Gear King of Pen (M): Sold and sent to a better home.
Out of Rotation
- Franklin-Christoph Model 66 (EF) : The only pen to truly be written completely dry this week. Midway through its 22nd A5 journal page.
- Lamy Aion Dark Green (EF) : I decided to flush this one early. It wasn’t getting enough use.
- Diplomat Aero Volute (OF) : Another pen I decided to flush early. I got tired of the grey ink, so it will have a nice bright in when it returns.
- Pilot Vanishing Point Cherry Bamboo (OF) : I flushed this one early. It had been unused awhile and it took some effort to get it going, and performance still wasn’t up to snuff. The cartridge was over half empty. Since the pen was rarely used it must hav been evaporation. I decide to clean it out and swap nibs. Then the shipping notice for the Estie arrived, so I decided to clean it out and return it to the pen storage chest for now. I had to acknowledge it wouldn’t get used very much, even with a different nib,
See the Currently Inked section near the top of this post. No sense repeating them all here.
Fountain Pen Day is this coming Friday. November 5th.
According to the recent Anderson Pens podcast, Bungubox inks no longer have a US distributer, so bulk imports are stopping.
While browsing the Vanness Pens website I came across some new Sheaffer inks and bottles, most of which are “coming soon” or samples only. These are the bottles with a built in inkwell, reminiscent of the old-style Sheaffer bottles. The bottles are smaller (30ml) and more expensive than the current inks. These were rumored long ago. At least it seems like is was long ago.