Guest post: fountain pen truths, part two

Welcome to the second of two guest posts from the inestimable Claire. I follow her sharp-tongued posts religiously on Instagram, and while I don’t always agree with her, I think her voice is well worth sharing… with minimal editing. Speak truth, Claire!

Hopefully you will have seen part one of this series that I have been invited to share via Anthony’s blog. If not, welcome to the party, I am Claire from Instagram @claire.scribbleswithpens, and I am here to share some frank, satirical, truths about being a fountain pen fanatic. Not that this should put new collectors off… forewarned is forearmed and all that.


A continuation of No 7 from the previous post. As a good friend pointed out to me, she will spend an hour going between three shops to save 10p on toothpaste, and then go home and spend high three figures on a pen in seconds. In my case, I have gone to work wearing trousers with holes in because I won’t pay £45 for a new pair when there is still wear in these, damnit! Then bought a £150 glittery custom pen on a coffee break. I keep a spreadsheet of every penny that goes through my household (that sounds a touch Austen) yet will cheerfully avoid looking at my credit card statement for days knowing what 3am moment of madness lurks there….


It.Is.Impossible.To.Take.A.Good.Shimmer.Ink.Picture. The biggest, hardest truth of all. It just can’t be done. Don’t believe me? Write with any Van Diemens or DeAtramentis shimmer ink and take a picture. Double dare you. It’s OK, go ahead, I’ll wait…

Now add Teal and Purple Shading inks to that impossible list. If you want to buy those shades? …. First google them, make a sacrifice to the gods, write a letter to Santa, throw salt over your shoulder and hope you get an ink in the vicinity of what you wanted.


There is an epidemic of LEs sweeping the pensphere. Largely of the Italian House / American Blank fashion. They’re everywhere, but in suitably small numbers (as befits a LE) that you will not be able to lay your hand on one without sacrificing a kidney and your first born. No kid to sacrifice? Well, damn, you are out of luck. In the period since I made this observation I too have fallen to this craze and have my very own Leo LE on order as we speak. The Force is strong with them….

FOMO is a thing though… You know you don’t actually like that particular model / blank but the more you see it in releases of <10 / < 50 the more you want one. You scroll endlessly looking for who is retailing it… are they someone you know? Can you beg a heads up? Are you on their mailing list? You may even set an alarm to get up at 3am when the release happens in a different time zone… all for a pen/blank you can’t afford and don’t want. Because FOMO is real.


Nothing makes me rage quite like a page full of inky glory that instantly prints off on your thumb as you close the notebook (and the subsequent blue fingerprints on every glossy surface in your house).

You may not like shimmer, but we are all attracted to the subtle sexiness of a sheening ink. Is it red? Is it blue? Oh my, it’s both! In a fine nib it’s a subtle shout of individuality in your corporate existence. Until you touch the page and then rub your eye and spend the day wondering why you’re getting odd looks from your colleagues….


We’ve all had that moment: Pen touches paper, a tear comes to your eye, you consider an existence where you just write endlessly and live in this eternal moment of bliss. There and then you decide to buy every colour of that pen, or replace all your custom pens with this particular nib.

And when you do…. It’s just not the same! It may well not be bad, but it’s not the same. Ultimate betrayal. Your future existence of writing bliss vanishes before your eyes and reality comes crashing down… with your credit card bill.


This one is a sad truth. You wouldn’t buy a car without test-driving it. So why should you have to buy a pen without knowing how the section feels in your grip, or if the nib is glass-smooth or has pencil-like feedback?

Luckily most serious retailers offer sensible return policies, even if dipped. But there is something even more disappointing about the situation when you have made your online purchase, stalked the postman for your new purchase to arrive, gleefully ripped into the package, and found actually it isn’t everything you wanted, and then you have the hassle of sending it back! Like that break up that takes days and days and days. Or peeling the plaster off hair by excruciating hair.


Ironically, this series was born out of a need to use up the currently inked pens so I can get a round of new inks in. I (partially) inked every pen for a meet and it has taken me an eon to empty them out – I NEVER throw out good ink. I have days where I write out lists of the ink names, to-do lists which include already completed tasks (don’t tell me you don’t do that too!), and random quotes from all over the internet realm. Nothing meaningful. Just writing to feel the joy of pen on paper and see the magical alchemy of ink drying. Hardly inspiring literature for generations to come…..or at least I hope to hell it isn’t!


I know Anthony has talked about this before, but it’s a real doozy of a problem. One I am battling as I write. Sometimes it’s facing the prospect of cleaning 20+ pens, or the frustration of not finding that particular shade of ink you just have to have, and sadly it can even be a disappointing purchase. Whatever the cause, you have a moment of wanting to jack it all, sell them all, give the ink away and return to a Bic existence. Simpler times.

Ultimately, I don’t think a true pen lover will ever be without at least one fountain pen, but these days, when it all feels such a chore, are really hard. Like a love lost. The key to getting past it? I don’t know a cure, but for Anthony it was streamlining his collection, a process I too am going through. Perhaps that’s just a rite of passage for us all to progress through. But for others the cure may be taking a break, or focusing on the relationships we have made that get us through the pen funk. Whatever works for you. But know this: you aren’t alone in that inky joy void.

The last word

Thank you for coming on this Truthful journey with me. If I have tickled you, or you like my (admittedly sarcastic) perspective feel free to come join me on my Instagram where this kind of madness is a constant theme. Happy scribbling!

One thought on “Guest post: fountain pen truths, part two

  1. Pingback: Fountain Pen Quest Trail Log – December 12, 2021 – Fountain Pen Quest

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