nibs for superior poetry
ink for better flowing prose
Pilot presents your ideas
only rounded in script and
immediately on the page
gilding the lines of a notebook
you bought it yesterday at
(Moleskine. Red-bound. Eye-catching spine.)
Nib and manuscript together oiled
by finest technology.
I am not alone in my penchant for particular stationery and a writer’s superstition that certain tools will aid creative flow better than others. My sensible self can recall perfectly good ideas captured by stubby pencils on torn envelopes and creative metaphors saved in the drafts folder on my mobile. If you turn to the front and back pages of my pocket diary, there you will find my most loved notes – poems, quotations, off-hand observations – as jotted down by leaking ballpoint.
Nonetheless, for some time I have been a sucker for the Moleskine myth, which Christian Lander summarises in his blog post #122 Moleskine Notebooks. Of course I know, as Lander points out, “[t]hese notebooks are considerably more expensive yet provide no additional functionality over regular notebooks that cost a dollar.“ But oh! They just look artsy and match corduroy jackets and drinking espressos. Truth be told, most of my rambles fill up A5 hardcover notebooks and A4 exam pads from the 99p Store, for which I thank all those factory workers who churn them out at such an affordable rate. The poem above was scribbled in a rather pretty pink, square notebook with a green-chested little bird on the front. It was a gift from a friend.
My real weakness is pens. In my hand should be an ink pen, ideally boasting “liquid ink” or “soft nib,” and in black. When I first arrived in London, I made a pact not to buy unnecessary stationery and instead pocketed any abandoned pens I found lying on pavements or library tables. For more than three months I wrote pages using those small pens that builders, plumbers and other tradesmen carry in their pockets to jot down measurements etc. But, I found I went through them so rapidly, sometimes in two or three days, that this would not do. From these I moved on to committing to ballpoints in any colour, and at one stage worked for months through half-a-dozen unwanted red pens that I had inherited.
Finally, after two years, I permitted myself to move up the pen ranks. Since August 20th last year, I have been working through an extravagant stash of ten V5 Techpoints with a 0.5 nibs, which I bought in a rush of bohemian indulgence, probably after hearing one of my poems was to be published. They were £2,75 each and one will last about 6-8 weeks of writing. That totals in the region of 120 A4 pages. A pen lives in each of the two notebooks I’m filling daily (one A5 cover hard-back and one A4 exam pad, remember). Another V5 Techpoint, sometimes a luxurious choice of two, live in the side pocket of my bag – just in case. These pens don’t get lent out. For that I have an extra ballpoint: the one that leaks.
For more on Beaded Quill’s penchant for pens and poetry, follow @BeadedQuill on Twitter.