In Praise of Cheap A** Fountain Pens

It’s a pen, not a newborn child.

Bill Mize
3 min readJun 24, 2024

Sometimes, I like to get all fancy with my writing.

There are times when opening up Scrivener or Word or even Substack’s composition desktop is just too sterile and too utilitarian.

It’s like the difference between drinking a protein shake and eating a medium-rare steak.

One gets the job done, the other makes getting the job done a true experience.

When I want to have a true writing experience and slow my brain pan down a bit, I grab a fountain pen with my favorite shade of blue ink, my $1.00 Wide Ruled Composition Book*, and go to town.

As we know, when it comes to cars, homes, clothes, and fountain pens, there are expensive models and cheap models.

Sometimes, you truly DO get what you paid for.

That Porsche is going to handle a great deal better than your Hyundai.

That 3BR/2B beachfront property is going to be much more comfortable than your 500-square-foot studio apartment that you share with a temperamental cat.

But I am going to have a very hard time believing that your Conklin Nozac Classic 125th Anniversary pen ( $806 on Amazon) is going to splash those words down on my cheap notebook paper any better than my Pilot Varsity ( Pack of 6 for $13 on Amazon).

Now granted, maybe the Conklin Classic may feel better, have more heft, and glint like diamonds in the sun under your desk lamp, but pound for pound, I’ll take the Pilot Varsity any day of the week.

I’ve been using the same box of 12 Pilot Varsity pens for years now, thanks to the ability not to treat them like they are disposable**, and taking the time to learn how to refill them!

Yes, Virginia, you can buy a bottle of your favorite colored ink (I’m partial to Waterman Florida Blue), a dropper, and a pair of needlenose pliers and refill your favorite Pilot Varsity over and over, to your heart’s content, and not have to spend an extra dime on them.

Just as rich people can light their cigars with $100 bills, you, too, can give a Pilot Varsity to your favorite writing buddy, a coworker who needs to be taught the joys of the fountain pen, or some random person on the street who will look at you very quizzically, to begin with, but eventually with everlasting gratitude.

I also don’t have to worry about losing one, breaking one, having one stolen at the library when I’m away from my encampment, or anything like that.

It’s TWO BUCKS A PEN!***

I think I can afford the occasional loss or recruitment into the cult.

I encourage you to grab a few disposable fountain pens, a composition book that’s probably half-price now that school has started and Walmart has hundreds in back stock to get rid of and get used to the difference between typing something and COMPOSING something.

One could be a memo, the other could be a symphony!

I hope that this little note has blessed you, if so, I encourage you to share it with someone who could use it.

Take care, and until next time, God bless.

PS. I’ve used Amazon links in this post, but they are NOT affiliate links, because EW.

*It has a worn leather cover that I can use repeatedly to put lipstick on that pig and disguise the fact that I am really that cheap.
**Yes, Pilot markets them as disposable! What the heck? That is an outrage!
***Even less if you figure in dollar cost averaging with the money you save when you don’t have to buy another box of pens.

Originally published at https://billmize.substack.com.

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Bill Mize

Traffic reports from the intersection of Christianity, Spirituality and New Thought.