It’s summer and I’m in the middle of a wedding. I’m escaping from them all though; they all appear like zombies to me, out to consume all my time. I’ve just visited my beautician and I feel refreshed and ready for action this entire weekend. I’ve purposely escaped and taken a couple of hours out of my busy day to gather my thoughts and write a few line. The urge is irresistible now.
I’m seated on a wooden bench, with my headphones in to drown out the surrounding noise. The music calms my mind, it slows my thoughts, softens my anger. It’s warm, and I feel the heat of the sun beaming down on my back and neck I am leaning against the arm-rest of the bench with my legs, stretched out before me. Just behind the bench is a bed of flowers all bunched together in front of a row of bushes with sprigs of yellow flower which dance obediently with the wind. There are overgrown trees around me which sway with in the warm breeze and I look out ahead of me on to a sea of luscious green grass. A rare sight for a British summer. This is my paradise. It’s clean, it’s green and it’s non-intrusive. I am alone but at peace from the fast paced world in which I reside. Somewhere within the vicinity of the park, a group of young children are playing and chattering and I sense freedom their tone. In my possession I have my phone, my iPod, my journal and in my hand, my favourite fountain pen which I write with regularly.
An elder couple walk past me. They notice me, smile and nod. I take off my sun glasses and headphones and say hello. The gentleman and his wife say hello and walked over to me. The gentleman commented on the warm, bright weather expressing his delight on how wonderful it is to finally have what can be deemed a decent summers day. ‘I agree, it’s beautiful to finally get away from the rain for a while.’ The gentleman’s wife smiled too, ‘Are you writing a diary my dear?’ I was astonished at her observation that I was writing a diary and before I had a chance to reply, the gentleman exclaims, “It’s wonderful and encouraging to see you writing and with a proper pen too! We were under the impression that the younger generation were more technologically orientated now and the era of writing had died but its impressive and reassuring to see it still alive!” At this point I stood to level with the gentleman, he deserved this respect. “Yes ma’am to answer your question, I am writing my diary. I have done so for many years now. Sir, in response to your comment, I’m from the era when writing with a proper pen was a skill you were taught in the final two years of junior school. I do recall the first occasion when I was presented with a fountain pen. It was an exciting occasion for me, I couldn’t have been more that 9-10 years old and ever since that moment I have enjoyed writing. The act of writing itself was a norm; we didn’t have computers like most of the younger generation now.” I could sense a feeling of pride from the couple as the conversation continued. We discussed the many different forms of writing and the significance it had in our lives today. As our conversation continued, we deliberated on the differences between traditional writing and typing on a computer and the significance of both forms. Our conversation lasted the better part of half an hour.
I am not accustomed to strangers expressing quite so much interest and astonishment at writing, nevertheless, I have on occasions received looks of admiration, or a supporting smile or nod and even looks of bewilderment. Many a time I have looked up to find questioning looks from the person opposite me on the underground or across the coffee shops, I have even had individuals ask me what I’m writing. For my age, I look very young and the activity which I carry out in public is considered unconventional and is almost associated with the middle-aged people as more and more members of the younger generation utilise the iPad, smart-phones and other technological gadgets to communicate and ‘write’. But the truth be told, I have written with a fountain pen since I was nine years old – the last two years of my junior school. The teachers insisted on the use of pens and it made us feel more grown up more responsible. I’m still growing.
I draw a lot of pleasure from writing with my fountain pens. Yes, I have a few, 5 to be exact all of Parker make. It’s comforting to feel how easily my fountain pens glide and roll over the paper with such ease leaving behind lustrous tracings of blue or black, slowly drying and transforming into graceful deep matt colours, emphasising each and every word on the page. The eldest of my pens is from my school years gifted to me by my parents on my 10th birthday. Its black with a plastic casing and stainless steel grip. The pen’s appearance is fairly decent though it’s quite obvious its a used pen. The nip is still in pristine condition, writing as smoothly as it did the first time I used it, light weight and a perfect fit for my hand. This particular pen has been witness to many verses, paragraphs and secrets over the years, holding each one close to its nip like a precious crown jewel from hungry, greedy eyes. An old companion, an old friend, defender of thoughts old and new. It’s comforting to know that as I write each day in my journal, my trusted fountain pen naturally adapts to my hand, travelling over the page without the need for any form of force require compared to a roller ball or biro pen. I like how the ink conquers the milky cream pages marking out their boldness.
Do not be fooled, I can and very regularly do type on my computers. I have a loving relationship with my desktop pc and laptop whereby they connect me to my readers and followers, allowing me to blog and keep in touch with friends and family. But there is something amiss. The manner in which I express myself differs considerably to that on paper. I often find that I write-up notes, or jot down my thoughts before beginning any form of writing on the computer. The hand written notes must come first, which allows my thoughts to flows with ease. Any form of writing I do – be it a consultation report, data analysis, book reviews, briefings, my journal or my blog – I prefer to hand-write at least a few short paragraphs to begin with, which I then copy and edit on my pc. In fact, my journal is hand written all the time in full. I find that the computer restricts me and separates me from my true thoughts and emotions. Worse still, I feel pressured by the computer to actually write something whereas noting down a mere sentence or two in my journal is satisfying. I have often found myself sitting staring at my screen contemplating how to join all the scattered words and thoughts constantly being distracted by the murmur of the pc and the various websites I have open. But I don’t want to knock it too much. It is fair to say now that I am adapting to the idea of using the pc more often to ‘write’ otherwise I wouldn’t have this blog and yes, it is likely remain my second choice for writing after all, a fountain pen is a fountain.
The moment I pick up my fountain pen, I am transformed into a different person; my thoughts, emotions, words stir together in an almost magical swirl of paragraphs, verses and words slide down from the nib in the form of ink onto the creamy paper. These are my real words, the words of my heart and the words of my curious mind. They reflect my identity as an individual as well as my love, my anger, my growth, my strength and my weakness. What makes my writing even more personal is the mood I’m in when I write it. It is the handwriting which clearly defends my feelings at the time of writing; the happier I am, the cleaner, better thought out my words and my writing.
You see, writing provides me with a genuine sense of achievement, connection and continuity. Writing brings me serenity, peace of mind, clarity and allows me to remain grounded in my thoughts, feelings and understanding of my growth as a human being. Writing heals me.