I was thinking recently about the beauty of old-fashioned writing instruments. I sit here typing this post on my computer, after having drafted it first by hand, a writing habit I always try to follow. Drafting by pen slows down the process and forces me to focus on the immediate words I am choosing rather than my thoughts flying ahead to other parts of the piece. By slowing the writing down, my concentration increases and my writing becomes stronger.
Regardless of the length of the project, from a short story or article to a novel, I always work in this method.
On taking a break, I put down my pen, admittedly not a very special or beautiful item, and began to consider writing implements from the past. The two pics I found of an old manual typewriter and a fountain pen and paper are things of beauty. Not only do they capture the tone of a past time, but they also suggest the power and solidity of that writing.
It has been many years since I have used a manual typewriter, and I am not going to claim that they are more efficient than a computer—that would be silly, but they are stronger, made out of metal and intended to last a very long time. There is a kind of beauty that is encompassed in items that were created to last a long time, not to be thrown aside after a mere year or so of usage, like most contemporary electronics (a rant for another day—the ecological disaster that might come as a result of our “recycling” of computer and phone parts). There is also an aesthetic quality in the holding of an old, well-made pen, something created to work in the hand of the user. I am not being nostalgic, looking for the non-existent “good, old days” but commenting on a characteristic that we seemed to have lost in our current desire for speed and convenience, and that is quality in the crafting of items.
Again, I am not searching for a golden age but acknowledging that we have lost something as we have gained speed.
I admit that I do my revisions on the comp, especially because I am a terrible typist, but I still love the feel of a good pen in my hand while writing. On special occasions, I do use a quill pen, ink bottle, and parchment to draft letters to my beloved wife. That, however, is a private matter!
I wonder if anyone else sees the beauty in these writing tools.