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I have too many fountain pens - if you can't be witty, then at least be bombastic [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
kyle cassidy

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I have too many fountain pens [Feb. 11th, 2010|11:17 am]
kyle cassidy
[mood |accomplishedaccomplished]
[music |http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vElN9BCNtHk]

(repost as necessary)

I noticed trillian_stars trying to jot something down by the phone last week opening up one pen after another to find that none of them had ink in them. "Why don't any of these pens have ink in them?" she asked. "I don't use any of them," I said. And it's true. Although I have a lot of pens, I only use about four of them (photos and lj entry for the pengeekish). I realized not only is it deceptive to have a coffee mug full of un-inked pens lying about, it's sad. Each of those pens meant something to me at one point in time, they inspired me and to have them sitting around gathering dust is to stop poems from being written, great thoughts from being recorded, it's to stop them from inspiring someone else. These pens should be somewhere else, writing.

So I want to give them away.

Clickenzee to embiggen!

My biggest fear is that they'll just end up in someone else's pencil box, doing nothing so let me explain:

1) these are fountain pens, they will leak ink on you from time to time. you'll have it between your fingers and people will know you're a writer (or they'll think you're a slob, depending on how much they know about pens)

2) You will need to buy ink for them, ink that comes in a jar (fountain pen ink, not india ink), you can still get it at stationary supply stores.

3) Two of these pens are OLD, they were made in the 1940's and they'll eventually need servicing, buying & replacing the parts that will go bad is not difficult, but you will need some modicum of technical skill, or you'll need to get someone to do it for you. There are lots of people who do this.

4) Members of the opposite sex (and members of the same sex) will no doubt be attracted to you like dogs to a gut wagon when they see you in the coffee shop writing with a fountain pen, be prepared to fight them off and answer endless questions about your poetry/novel.

Here's what we have:

1) Esterbrook w/ a 9550 nib, it's a very fine point nib. The pen has been very recently completely overhauled, it's missing the "jewel" at the end -- you can make your own.

2) Esterbrook 2556 nib, it's a fine point, general writing nib. This pen has broken & been repaired several times. It's very dear to my heart -- there's a story somewhere in my blog about how it broke, I was sad, someone in Virginia whom I didn't know heard about it, sent me an email saying how sad he was that such a fine pen had broken. He seemed so sincere, I sent the broken pen to him, a month later, it returned! He'd fixed it BY MACHINING CUSTOM BRASS PARTS. i kid you not. This pen signifies, to me, how awesome the internet is, and how good people can be.

3) A Pelikan 200 demonstrator with a medium nib. This was a graduation present from very dear friends. It's served me well but it bothers me that it hasn't written a letter in years. This is a (comparatively) new pen & it's very freaking cool.

So, how do you get one of these?

Since I want to know that they're going to writers -- here's what to do:

1) Make an anonymous comment here.

2) In the anonymous comment, post a photo of your journals / some pages from your journals so that we can see you are one of those weird people who still writes by hand.

3) Post in that anonymous comment, a writing sample -- part of a poem, a paragraph from a letter, something from your travels something you're proud of (please type this as text in the comment, I don't want to have to read people's writing from images). Not more than 300 words please.

4) You don't need to go to great lengths to anonymize yourself, you can host the image in your own LJ pictures section and link to it, i just don't want to be distracted by familiar names (or unfamiliar ones).

5) If you don't write by hand and don't have a paper journal but you're so inspired by this that it makes you want to take a notebook and a pen and backpack across Europe (or Idaho for that matter, why do people alway backpack across Europe and never Idaho? I'd love to inspire someone to make an American travel diary) -- write about your plans & hope and dreams and we'll count that too.

These aren't terribly expensive pens, they're cash value isn't high, but to think of them only in terms of money is to fundamentally misunderstand this. This isn't about money, it's about making something from nothing. It's about what you didn't write but what you will write, it's about memories that you'll make that will make the world a better place for us all. It's about inspiration.

So have at it -- contest ends next Wednesday. (If you've already got a fountain pen, or a box of them, please consider letting someone else have a go ;-)

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(Deleted comment)
From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-13 09:51 pm (UTC)

I would like your medium point

I can't write with fines, in fact, I mainly write with cheap broads, but a medium nib is cool too. (But a cheap broad is still my favorite...)

I've been writing with fountain pens and 10 cent notebooks since before you were a virgin.

I got my first novel published in 2001 and the Dave Mathews video The Space between is based on that novel (Even though Dave Mathews knew nothing about it...)

My second novel, A Bottle of Rain, was published in 2007.

My next novel, As God looked on, will be published late next year. I write dark comedic novels about the human condition (which means most of my relatives won't recommend it, but you can find my books in just about every library in France...)

Here is the opening chapter from my new novel about Pablo the Illegal Immigrant and Nancy, the serial killer:

Es Delamina Pervis Mio
(It is made of tin but it is mine)

Pablo didn’t want to go anywhere. He was six years old and his belly was usually always full and his mother and his uncle had just put in the greatest thing you could put in a tin-sided, cement floored two-room house on the side of a hill in southern Mexico- a cuarto de baño interiors- an indoor toilet.
When Pablo first pooped in that toilet he stood over it and watched the water swirl and shortly it was gone just like that. He stood there smiling.
His aunt yelled at him to wipe his butt with a corn cob like so (she gestured), then told Pablo to pull his pants up. It was a better life now.
They got a 12 inch television when Pablo was five and now they had a toilet and they finally found enough cardboard to cover the walls of both rooms so when they all slept the spiders and scorpions couldn’t get in so easy.
If only Pablo hadn’t stolen those Converse in the park. God was watching when he did this, his aunt told him as they, later on, crossed into America in the back of a big, dark truck.
No, Pablo should have just walked on by as those rich kids from the rich part of town who took off their new tennis shoes and lined them neatly on the concrete before wading and splashing happy in the Fountain of Redemption in Prestro Park.
But there those blue hi-top Converse were. He scanned them all and that pair he knew would fit was right there and glowing. Pablo slipped them on and sure enough they fit like an oversized pair of gloves. At first he was just going to try them on. But he grimaced and pushed his heart back into his chest as his whole body shivered at the thought of running through the streets and hills and alleys of Xaxace in these blue hi-top Converse.
These tennis shoes would carry Pablo to greatness. He would marry a girl even prettier than his aunt and they would have a tin house with four rooms and two indoor toilets. Pablo could poop in one and his beautiful wife in the other.
Off he ran in those beautiful blue hi-top Converse tennis shoes.
Pablo got pretty far away too before he went tumbling head over heels. He had forgotten to tie his shoestrings. He didn’t know yet how to tie shoestrings. He bunched the pearly white flat soft strings up, stuffed them under the tongue, and off he ran again.
Pablo glanced once behind him as he ran and sure enough. Beautiful golden stars the size of Pesos flew fast and thick behind him as he ran.
They were magic shoes and this was a great thing.
But Pablo shouldn’t have stolen them.
That’s why he and his aunt would end up in the back of a smelly hot truck.
God had watched the whole thing.

You can find more or less at my website at www.jimharris.org

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[User Picture]From: valya_dl
2010-02-11 04:44 pm (UTC)

Not a participant, but...

I love your contests, Kyle.

I have some beloved pens, so I'm also not participating this time. But I wanted to say how much I admire your drive to encourage people to create. It is something I also feel passionate about. I can't wait to see what people post!

Love to you & Trillian.
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From: octopusgrabbus.wordpress.com
2010-02-11 04:49 pm (UTC)

Re: Not a participant, but...

You have nice pens. My father was associated with Estabrook Pen, and I have some of his old foutain pens. I should drag some of my pens out, load them up, and enjoy them, like at meetings. This was good idea, and it's a nice thing you're doing.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-11 05:21 pm (UTC)

A page where I was doodling a derivation to some equations, and the pen I used to write them.

This isn't the text in the photo, but is somewhat pertinent to it:

Strange Attractor

Small, insignificant,
Breezes from butterflies' flight
Alter my trajectory
Toward singularity,
A cusp.
Past and future arrows on
Time's axis rotates,
Instant eternity of
Infinite might-have-beens,
Folia overlaid intimately,
Visible only to the heart.
Lost in growing chaos
A universe beyond reach
In the single moment-brushing
Butterfly wing.
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[User Picture]From: melindadansky
2010-02-11 06:04 pm (UTC)
When we de-cloak, I would like to friend this person.

I thought I was the only person in the universe who would write math proofs with a fountain pen and write poems about strange attractors.

I know it's not a fan-voting contest. Sitting this one out, Kyle, but it's a great contest and a great idea.
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(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
[User Picture]From: lilibel
2010-02-11 05:26 pm (UTC)

This post brings memories back

My first fountain pen was a Parker with Le Petit Prince. Back at this time (I was 8), I had no use for it and it somehow got lost in the mist of time. I do regret this. Years after, my dad gave me his "serious" pen as a present for good school work. It was the very same Pelikan 200 that is in the picture. I did some of my finest school-work with it. One day I'll find it again, in a box full of highschool souvenirs. I really enjoyed the way the nib was flowing on the paper.
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[User Picture]From: dd_b
2010-02-11 05:39 pm (UTC)
Fountain pens are very cool; those two designs I recognized the shells of immediately.

So I certainly encourage people to go for this! (I've got a Schaefer Targa with my name engraved on it, my father's old Parker 51, and two Parker 45s that I've had for 40 years now, and am clearly closer to the "too many pens" camp than the "needs a new pen" camp, so I won't be asking for one of yours. In fact I gave my third Parker 45 to a girlfriend who's into pens a while ago.)
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-11 05:40 pm (UTC)

journal entry

Picture (featuring cello journal, knitting journal, recipe book, journal journal): http://www.flickr.com/photos/9547311@N05/4348510809/

Entry from a blog post about a visit to Australia:

We went trail riding today. I usually end up trail riding in the rain, and today was no different, except for the little accident.

We were moseying along, getting ever more drenched in heavy rain, and our trail leader suggested we pick up the pace. We agreed, and not two minutes into trotting, I felt the right stirrup strap on my saddle give way, and overboard to the left I went, stirrup and strap coming with me.

But as they like to say here in Australia, "no worries." I was wearing a helmet, thankfully, so my only injury was a truly magnificent painter’s palette bruise on my left thigh. I did have to endure my horse gazing down at me with an exasperated look, which seemed to say, "Now, what did you do that for?"

Before I let myself think too much about it, however, I got up, brushed myself off, and got back on the horse again. I've heard that you're not a real rider until you've fallen from a horse at least seven times. This marks (pun intended) my third time.

The trees here are fascinating. I got to inspect them up close on the trail ride. Their version of a pine tree looks like a palm tree with a buzz cut. The branches have sharp angles, and are edgy and twisted. Some tree bark is smooth and looks like bleached bone. Other tree bark looks like it was mauled by a beast, with some of the bark hanging on by a thread. Still other tree trunks look like muscle, if you pulled a person’s skin back. The bare trees are the most striking - the branches held up as though beseeching the sky for water. I hope they got their fill today.
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[User Picture]From: sweetandsnarky
2010-02-12 12:29 am (UTC)

Re: journal entry

I would just like to say that based on your journals, I think I have a doppleganger. :) I also play the cello, knit, and collect/write recipes. I just wanted to say hello!
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Re: journal entry - (Anonymous) Expand
From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-11 05:48 pm (UTC)

"Knot" (pub. in Poitesme, 2008) (not my favorite piece, but it's short)

I untangle my mother's hair while standing in a jungle mess of IV wires: blue, yellow, red, green, grey. Long fingers work through long hair while I try to keep my own from winding with the wires. Outside there is only the steady flash of a red-and-blue blinking tower, and my mind wanders, she sleeps. She said once how much I look like her, and oh that pained me, for she'd always said how she was happy with herself even though she said she knew she was not pretty. Knot. Pull gently. In the mirror across the room it's me I see, no longer that odd thirteen but twenty-two and remembering that small comment, that small comment – outside the window blue flashes and in my mind there I am, knotted blue sheets, tangled legs, and him, calling me beautiful. Beautiful! Another knot. Gently work out. And I feel beautiful. Knot. And she is beautiful. Knot. Untangle. Untangle. Untangle.

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From: mmerriam
2010-02-11 06:00 pm (UTC)
I'll sit this one out, but I do want to agree that writing with a fountain pen is an experience for different than working with plain old ball-points and jells from the grocery store.

I do all my first draft work in longhand with a Waterman Phileas (broad nib) and moleskine notebooks.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-11 06:04 pm (UTC)

Pick me! Pick me!

"She was whistling past the graveyard of her own marriage." I wonder if anyone has written that exact same sentence before. I know there are only so many sentences possible in the wide world, but what's the likelihood? For this or any other bit of scratch? I am excited to think that it could be all mine. It feels so significant.

Oh crap. I am going to have to harvest my journals, aren't I?


"Because, I am almost old enough to be your father."

"But not really."

"But not."

"So why then?"

"Because the older I get, the less you will love me. You might love me completely right now, but every year it will grow less, so that in time it will be a very small, pitying kind of love. And, some day after that, it will not be love at all. It will be pity, and I can't stand the thought of that."
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[User Picture]From: katranna
2010-02-11 07:23 pm (UTC)

Re: Pick me! Pick me!

Ooooooh, pick this person indeed! I love his/her sentences. They deserve to be written with the best pens.
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-11 06:15 pm (UTC)


It's not that I need a fountain pen, but it hearkens me back to when I used to write in my paper journals. And I have a stack some three feet high of them all from when I was 12 up til now. I write in my paper journal sporadically now, usually when I'm stuck somewhere without the internet, as my LJ has been my voice for several years now. Still, I like the idea of having something physical to go back and page through later. I like the idea of sitting down and writing out a conversation with yourself.

I was CRUSHED when about seven or so years ago, I discovered that we'd had a flood in my basement and what I thought was a waterproof safe that all my journals were in turned out NOT to be. About half my journals ended up with pretty severe water damage, I spent months drying the pages, leaving them open in front of a fan trying to deter the mold. Some of them grew so much mold that I couldn't see the covers anymore, which is a shame, because on some of them I went to great efforts to paint the covers and make them my own. I lost the ink on many pages, others were fairly blurred, but still mostly legible. I think it was then when I finally switched to online journaling, though I feel I've lost something in the process since I tend to write to an audience now (my friends) rather than just write for myself.

At any rate, I wanted to share some pictures of some of the journals that survived the great flood. I have a habit of tucking so much crap into my journals. And my pen is not near as fancy as yours.

An excerpt of my ramblings:

"I remembered all this as I was driving up I-90 along the lake, all silvery and elusive in the gloaming. Is it clouds? Is it the lake? Different parts reflect differently and I just can't tell but for the map that I am holding that says that is what it is. And I drive and I wonder where was it that we were? And I cannot place it. I was in the back of the car, truck? Was it a truck? You know, it wasn't that long ago was it? That I would forget details? That was only 10 years ago. Seems like forever, yet 10 years seems so short. I suppose then I was rather self-absorbed and some details just have slipped by. But stupid things like riding the east busway in my black and fuschia jacket that as he said, made me a better target, getting off the Homewood exit and walking up the road on the cracks and bucked sidewalk, past that funeral home with all the green. I can picture the yard perfectly. Working on sanding or painting the windows while listening to Nine Inch Nails for the first time. Pretty Hate Machine. I had never heard it and I loved it. So all these stupid things? The towel between the green room and his bedroom. Wood floors, listening to Zooropa and learning to MOO. Learning emacs, writing down all this shit in my little book. The waterbed that always had crumbs and often had leaks. Duct tape. Reed's account at Pitt. That god damned Dark Crystal book that I sat and copied and could NEVER find again. She made that green dress for me for prom. Fit to me.

Sigh. I could write for days about the dumb things I remember."
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[User Picture]From: katranna
2010-02-11 07:28 pm (UTC)

Re: Journals

I like this entry too.
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[User Picture]From: adelheid_p
2010-02-11 06:17 pm (UTC)
Great contest! I'm not a writer and I shouldn't have one of those pens so I'm not entering. I just think it's fabulous that you are letting them go to good homes.
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(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: mercurialgirl
2010-02-13 08:58 am (UTC)
Your icon made me smile out loud
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-11 06:36 pm (UTC)

...that'd be a few of my journals. there's, er, also a rather large box of filled books, but i did not quite feel like photographing those. >_>

and an excerpt from one of the two journals in that stack that are not used for fiction:

Dad gave me a knife. He says, "I remember the old man who taught me to whittle. I was four or five an' he musta been seventy. He'd say, 'Goddamn, boy, pull the knife away from you!', talkin' and cussin' at me like I was an adult."

Then, over orange spice tea, he went on, "Nah, I don't think I ever broke my nose. 'Cept when I ran into that tree, tryin' to steal cigarettes, wearin' a big white cowboy hat."

So I said, "Why the hat?"

"Oh, to hide what Daddy did to my hair. Anyway, I was runnin', stopped to see if I was still bein' chased, and ran right into that tree."
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[User Picture]From: elmocho
2010-02-11 07:27 pm (UTC)
I must in good conscience sit this one out:

Pen drawer

...but that Pelikan demonstrator looks nice.
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[User Picture]From: dujour
2010-02-11 08:34 pm (UTC)
I'm with you - I whimpered when I saw the Pelikan. :)
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From: (Anonymous)
2010-02-11 07:38 pm (UTC)
Full disclosure, I do most my writing on my laptop. I'd like to do more of my roughs on paper because I think it makes for a truer first draft but I'm not a big fan of using a ballpoint. I've always wanted to try out a fountain pen, but never really had the chance. Also, I just moved, so I've only got the one journal to take a picture of that isn't in a box. I figured I'd do a sort of before and after thing. Original journal text and typed second draft.


There are hollowed out buildings along the Truckee now, where just a couple of years ago the Reno riverfront thrived with art galleries and coffee shops. They weren’t meant to last. They grew like hothouse flowers, bright blooms of culture trying to find root in a dry desert climate that had only ever nourished vice.

Sometimes when I head downtown to empty my pockets or my bank account I still see Daisy on the riverbanks. I’ll catch sight of her dancing along the waters edge or turn to see her peering at me from the other side of a pane of dirty glass. She wanders the abandoned stores, browsing empty shelves or admiring the bare walls where paintings once hung. She took all the bright spots with her when she left. Gathered up the riverfront like a bouquet and disappeared. Maybe she wanted something to remember me by. Maybe she just wanted to make sure it hurt.

This is Daisy’s story, the story I never tell and no one ever listens to. It was my sophomore year at UNR and I was seeing a girl from my Russian Lit class. Jackie. Jackie was small, dark haired and skittish. She liked sex and hated, otherwise, to be touched. We’d lay in bed together and she’d tell me she loved me, but if we met in the halls she smiled like a stranger and kept her hands shoved deep in her pockets. She cried sometimes, and when she cried, she’d let me hold her. I loved her, then. She’d shake like she was breaking apart and I’d wonder what it was like to be so fearlessly injured.
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