11 September 2012
Quill and Qwerty
I did a bit of writing with a dip pen the other day (I'll tell you about that some other time), and found myself quite astonished that the likes of Austen were able to write whole books with that method. And they had really fancy handwriting, to boot. Once, a long time ago, I tried using a proper quill, i.e. a goose feather carved to shape with a sharp knife, and I couldn't manage it. Scrape, scratch, splatter...
And now I'm so used to the computer QWERTY keyboard that I'm starting to find myself amazed how anyone could write whole books by hand at all, even with a regular pen, be it ballpoint, fountain, gel or felt. Or a pencil.
For me, ballpoint would be out of the question; I get hand cramps from those things in very short order. Gel isn't much better. Felt is okay, but my writing instrument of choice for anything meant to be permanent is a fountain pen. Yes, an old-fashioned fountain pen. Though not quite as old-fashioned as the one in the picture; that one belonged to my grandfather, so it's from no later than the 1950's, maybe even as old as the 1920's or 30's. It's the plunger type, with a piston ink reservoir in the belly.
No, the kind I use are the ones I learned to write with, back in Germany in the 70's, with neat and tidy ink cartridges to put in it. Usually royal blue, but when I got to my teens I really enjoyed paying a bit extra and getting the fancy coloured inks. They even had scented ones for a while in the little junk shop where I liked browsing. My grade 11 math teacher was not impressed with the yellow and orange; he said he could barely see them on the page. So I had to switch back to turquoise, and green, and purple. I even had brown for a while; but I can't remember what the scent of that one was. (No, it definitely wasn't what you think! Get your mind out of the gutter.)
Now, I just rattle my fingers over the keyboard, with great speed and inaccuracy. My backspace button gets used about as much as the space bar, I think.
Life, the Universe, the Quill and QWERTY. What's your favourite writing tool?