Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Romance of Tools

I've had questions 'off-blog' about the group of writing instruments in Zestful Writing's heading picture. From left:

1) A Fisher Space 'bullet' pen, perfect for pocket, purse, or wetsuit. Developed for the US space program, it writes reliably under any conditions. I believe because the cartridge is under slight pressure, the ink tends to form a blob at the end of the ballpoint between uses.

2) A blue gel pen, either SARSA brand or Pilot brand, can't remember which. I like these for travel, and as backups when my fountain pen runs dry when out and about. SARSA is the smoothest I've found.

3) Lamy Safari Vista fountain pen, medium nib. Cheap (c. $30) but good. I like being able to see the ink level in the reservoir. I got this pen for writing in caf├ęs after, lost in the fog of chapter 10 or 12 or 39, I made the nearly fatal mistake of leaving my prized Mont Blanc (not pictured) on the table when I went to the bathroom. When I returned I saw the guy at the next table staring at it steadily. I could read his face with ease: I want it. Should I? What if I did?

4) One of my best pens is this Parker Duofold in pearl and black. I bought this one in San Francisco when I left my day job to be a writer. The feel of the thing is wonderful: the material of the barrel is warm and remarkably smooth in your hand, and the gold nib glides across paper smoother than anything. In retrospect, this one's a bit gaudy, but it delivers everything it promises.

5) Faber-Castell TK Fine Vario, 0.7mm. I love pencils, especially mechanical pencils, ever since my big sister showed me hers as she did her awesomely complicated-looking high-school math homework. The barrel was translucent red, as I remember, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world. A few years ago she mentioned that her current favorite was the TK Vario, so I bought one. I find the polished steel grip a bit slippery, but I like the looks of the pencil so much that I reach for it all the time. I like the cushioning spring (mine's set to soft) and I like the exposed, twist-advance eraser.

6) Staedtler Mars-Lumograph wood pencil, 3B. From my drawing kit. The leads in these are incredibly smooth and beautifully bold and dark.

7) Staedtler white plastic eraser—the best.

8) Brass barrel sharpener stamped 'West Germany'. Sharpens great and feels so heavy and perfectly machined that you want to keep it in your pocket at all times.

What are your favorite writing tools?

[photo by ES]

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  1. my company's ball tip pen. it's an almost translucent orange with gel-like ribbing in the middle. it's the 2nd smoothest pen i've ever had and i never had to pay for it. trouble is that they only give them out during special events and conferences. it's the only pen write with since anything else feels so wrong in my hand. so if i ever run out of ink or they break i'm out of luck and left to scrounge around the office and begging coworkers if they have any to give to me or wait for the next conference/special event and stuff a bunch of them in my bag.

  2. i have the phot but unfortunately i can't figure out how to show it. since there's no way to simply upload it, i tried copying and pasting and ctrl+alt+printscreen, and nothing works :-(

    1. I now realize that this blog program would have to prevent readers from posting photos, because gosh knows what some spammers would put up. If you send it to me at my regular email address (under 'contact' at my web site; I can't put it up here because of the same internet-roving spambots) I'll put it up.


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