Write. Slowly.

So far, I've managed to explain to very few people why I adore using a fountain pen. It's the equivalent of the 'slow food' movement for writing. While I don't see myself going back to iron gall ink and dip pens, there's a tactile pleasure in using a fountain pen that I just don't get with ballpoints.

Ballpoints are blunt instruments. Not getting the ink flow you want? Scrub the point of the pen against the paper as fast and as hard as you can. You'll either get ink, and go on with your life, or you'll throw away the pen and uncap a new one that will be just like the old one.

Fountain pens more delicate. It's like writing with a paintbrush. You don't scratch into the paper, you paint on it. Unless you have a very wet-writing nib, your fountain pen will never write as fast as ballpoints do. Oh, and most importantly -- don't drop the damn thing, because if you permanently bend the metal nib, you're going to incur a repair bill.

The process of writing with such a pen forces you to take time to think about your words. Got something to say? Uncap your pen. Tilt it down for a moment. You shouldn't need to prime the pen by writing a quick stroke on throwaway paper, but sometimes it happens.

Write. Slowly. Take your time between words; they matter more. I've noticed two tendencies in my writing since I began using my Souverän for correspondence: my tendency toward Austen-esque compound-complex sentences magnifies itself, or instead my sentences compact in upon themselves into a highly epigrammatic form.

Florid and descriptive, or short and impressionistic.

For me, satisfaction has come in the individualism of ink. I have a bottle of black ink that I've decided to give to a friend next week. When it comes to my pens, black just isn't me. I currently alternate between royal blue, a vivid purple ('Saguaro Wine'), hunter green, and this luscious teal called 'Blue Suede.'

I can't explain the appeal of taking a few minutes it takes to change the ink color in my pen. There's a deliberate nature required to enjoy the process of dumping the unused ink back into the bottle, cleaning the pen, adding a new color, then testing it. It inevitably leaves the inner side of my ring finger (which is braced against the underside of the pen) stained by my current ink choice.

I like that, and I don't know why. Perhaps it's not professional in this day and age to wear a ring-finger ink blot proudly, but I do.

It reminds me of the admonition I was given about modern-day attempts to read Jane Austen, an admonition that finally made Austen's words come alive for me. Most people get her wrong by trying to read her prose too quickly. Austen's sentences were not bite-sized, and not meant to be read at a fast clip. Try reading her words at the deliberate, observant pace they were written in, and they become different creatures entirely: creatures of luxuriant, exquisite observation. Before slam-dunking from paragraph to paragraph, take a moment to think, to pause, to use her words as a mental observation point, and remember that they were written by a woman who had to pause every few words to re-dip her pen before writing more.

I wish I knew who said that. I owe that person a beer. I think about it almost every time I pick up a fountain pen.

Think fast. Write slowly.