She drinks pints of coffee and writes little observations and ideas for stories with her best fountain pen on the linen-white pages of expensive notebooks. Sometimes, when it's going badly, she wonders if what she believes to be a love of the written word is really just a fetish for stationery.
— David Nicholls
Every third Wednesday of April, the world highlights our fascination with writing instruments, paper, and other related accessories. World Stationery Day was first celebrated in 2012, and since then has continued to accentuate the lasting relevance of writing and its necessary tools. In spite of the speed and convenience that more modern methods of communication offer — writing by hand continues to draw us in through the sensate and very human experience it provides. This special day honors one of timeless ways of reaching out to others, and our connection to the objects which aid in self-expression.
A few days hence, April 30 is commemorated in the United States as National Honesty Day. The concept for this day was born in the 1990s from the process of writing The Book of Lies: Fibs, Tales, Schemes, Scams, Fakes, and Frauds That Have Changed The Course of History and Affect Our Daily Lives. Author and proponent M. Hirsh Goldberg thought that the date itself aptly complemented April Fool’s Day, a holiday known for celebrating playful hoaxes and friendly pranks. As a former press secretary, he sought to encourage truthfulness in politics, business, and interpersonal relationships. It became an annual event given to asking straightforward questions and expecting genuine answers — a practice that never fails to lose its significance in meaningful human interactions.
For us fountain pen enthusiasts, anything that enriches our writing experience and fuels our passion is adapted with enthusiasm. This is the romance of a fountain pen. It can be an extension of our minds, a token of what we find beautiful, and an expression of our overall aesthetic.
We are no strangers to the enduring charm of stationery. To be honest, it is another rabbit hole we could happily get lost in. A fountain pen is not fully an object exhibiting both form and function without having its necessary adjuncts — fountain-pen friendly paper and ink. It is no wonder then that in addition to a selection of pens, we maintain a cache of pads, journals, and inks as creative fuel.
There is another layer to this attraction though. Like the particular pens which attract us, the stationery we use for our written correspondence is a reflection of our sense of style and personality. For example, when we use specific papers and inks and send these to our loved ones, an impression of us goes to them as remembrances. Other aspects of the objects that we choose — such as the texture of the paper, the shape of an ink bottle, the colorway of that one pen, or the design of a pen case — these and more both deepen and widen the whole experience of writing for us.
At first, you may want to try almost everything to discover what works for you — I know I did. There are so many combinations of pens, paper, and inks to explore! However, this avocation is not an inexpensive one, especially if you choose to get each pen, ink, or journal that catches your fancy. Truth be told, it takes a certain amount of self-knowledge and discretion to thrive within the rabbit hole when you are on a specific budget. There comes a point when we need to re-evaluate and ask ourselves —
What do I really want in a fountain pen?
And this applies to paper, ink, and other stationery items as well. To start, think in terms of functionality and/or aesthetic appeal.
Will I honestly be able to use it?
An important question for those with hoarding tendencies like me, as some stationery products may deteriorate over time and adequate storage space is a must.
What is the value added to my life?
This can be highly subjective, so give this one some consideration when making a decision.
These are just a few points to ponder on as you begin or continue your journey into the world of fountain pens and stationery. Your preferences may change over time and with shifting circumstances, so give yourself some leeway for that.
More to Our Story
The objects we cherish are often those that we find indispensable and meaningful in our daily lives. They are not mere things anymore — they have become trusty tools as we fulfill our tasks, bridges between intangible thought and concrete expression, demonstrations of care to and from our loved ones, and reflections of our personality. The reasons we have for placing value on what we keep are numerous and varied. Whatever they are, may we continue to find joy and inspiration as we use them.
What is the difference between passion and obsession? One inspires you to act, the other enables you to persevere.
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Written by @lekzumali
Check out her musings on Instagram!