Writing is easy: All you do is sit staring at a blank sheet of paper until drops of blood form on your forehead. -- Gene Fowler

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Pens And The Reward System

Following on my previous post about pens, I want to talk a little about fountain pens. Specifically really nice fountain pens. There are some blogs and blog commenters out there who've posted to Rhodia and other stationery/pen geek sites about their favourite pens, and I have to be envious of them. Here are people who have not one $30 pen, but several, and even own some of the really expensive (and purportedly high-quality) ones.

I have spent $21 on a pen, once. A few months ago I bought a technical pen from an art store. I like it, but it was basically a birthday gift from a friend, as I used a gift card. Paying more than a few dollars for a pen seems extravagant to me somehow. My next most expensive pen was a Papermate Ph.D. Multi, for which I paid about $8. Lately, as I mentioned, I've been buying inexpensive gel pens.

I've long admired from afar the $30, $40, $50 and up fountain pens I've seen in the case at Staples. I know it's possible to spend hundreds of dollars on a pen, but even these are out of my price range. It's kind of odd: as a writer, one of my primary tools is a pen. Most of my writing is done on the computer these days, but there's no mistaking the value of a good quality, comfortable pen.

So why am I so reluctant to lay out $30 for a nice Lami Safari or the like? Well, it comes primarily from my innate cheapness, but also because, years ago, when I had decided I wanted to publish fiction, that I made an agreement with myself. I said, "Those fountain pens are gorgeous, yes indeed. But very expensive! So. When you've gotten a short story published, as a reward, you can get yourself a nice fountain pen." Said 'nice fountain pen' will likely be a $30 or $40 model, as indicated by the aforementioned innate cheapness. But the reward system has worked for me in the past.

During NaNoWriMo I made little deals with myself throughout the month: reach this word count total by blah day and you can get that (insert thing here) that you've been wanting. Two years ago I bought myself a cheap mp3 player as a reward for finishing successfully. So why not this too?

If I stick to my guns and don't spend $30 on a fountain pen until I publish a short story, it's gonna be a while. Even though I'm now working harder than ever on writing and am researching the whole publishing thing, I anticipate it will be months before I'm anywhere near the point where I can look forward to actually getting my prize.

Don't get me wrong - the accomplishment of getting published will be its own reward! But... fountain peeennnn....

*crickets, followed by hold music*

Oh, sorry. I kind of wandered off there for a minute.

I do have two fountain pens, but they, as one might expect, given my talk of cheapitude, were $3 models ordered through the web, as Staples no longer sells such things. *fistshake* They're fine pens. Simple but functional, and refillable with international cartridges. Which brings me to why I'm not using them often - I'm nearly out of ink. As with the Zebra refills, I've yet to see these cartridges in stores. I'm an in-person, tactile kind of shopper. And I hate paying shipping when I could stop into a store and pick up what I need. I'm my own delivery person, curse you!

I suppose I should look at an expensive fountain pen as an investment. After all, you spend lots of money on things like cars and computers, but you maintain them and refill them. With gas, oil, washer fluid, and more memory or bigger hard drives or whatever. It's just hard to shake off my inner cheapskate.

I'd better get back to work on my story if I want to buy myself a nice pen, hadn't I?

1 comment:

  1. Buying a new pen, especially to commemorate an achievement, is a great way to positively reinforce your hard work. Once you have yourself a nice fountain pen, and the Safari is a great place to start, you will wonder why you ever hesitated.