Of fountain pens, notebooks and the lost art of writing

Fountain pen

Before I get started on the post, I wanted to apologize for the lack of posts over the last few weeks. I took a brief vacation (yay!) straddled between some significant work commitments. Not to mention, doing lots of stuff with the little guy. But I am back and hope to get into the usual post load in a week or two.

Here I am typing a blog post on my laptop on the lost art of writing. It is definitely ironic given that the laptop is probably the biggest reason for the writing habit to slowly but steadily disappear. The purpose of this post is partially to bemoan this sad state of affairs but equally nudge the readers to give writing a shot. For old times sake.

Long long ago, when I was in school I discovered that I could write pretty nicely. My handwriting was clean, legible and with the right effort, appeared print like. My teachers raved about it. Soon, I was scoring great in every exam that involved lots of writing.  I carried my skill to college and continued to live vicariously through my writing. My wife (then girlfriend) probably fell in love with my handwriting more than my physical self. I came to the US to do my Masters and a year later, bought my first laptop. Like any new fancy toy, I took to the laptop as my be all and end all tool for everything. Soon I was taking lecture notes on my laptop and doing fancy note taking on pdfs from Professors. It felt cool. The more I did it, the more I felt empowered by it. Before I realised it, I had almost entirely stopped using pen and paper other than writing my exams, some of which were also computer based.

A few years later, I felt the urge to pen a letter to someone and sat down with a ballpen that was lying around and a sheet of paper. Five lines into it, my wrist and hand started hurting. My fingers were extremely uncomfortable. I attributed it to not having written for a while. The only writing I was doing over the years was check signing and the occasional form that needed to be filled by hand. I tried again few days later and the same problem. To my utmost horror, I realized I couldnt write a page at a stretch anymore, leave alone reams of them. And my much prided handwriting was gone. Never to come back again. It didnt make much of a difference to my life but a small part of me wept silent tears of loss.

Fast forward to 2009 and the smartphone bug struck. What was not being typed on a laptop was now being fingered in on a smartphone and soon a tablet. It was as if the technology gods had decided to give the old art of writing a quick burial. Like with the laptop, I took to the smartphone quickly and didnt even pause to think about writing this time.

Late last year, I faced a different kind of a problem. I was going to meetings with my laptop or my smartphone and starting to get distracted. I was either typing away on my laptop or hunched over my phone. It was not a good feeling. I decided to give pen and paper a shot, after all these years. I started taking notes in meetings with a simple notebook and pen. Started writing anything and everything and slowly but steadily the joy of writing started to come back. It was time to get outfitted right. I discovered Daiso in Cupertino and picked up some nice notebooks (I have always fancied Japanese coworkers and business contacts for their notebooks). I then started hunting for the right kind of pencil and pen. Last week I found a cheap fountain pen at Daiso and followed it up by ordering a set of disposable fountain pens by Pilot (who knew they existed?). The feeling of a fountain pen in my hands after almost 16 years was something remarkable. It just felt right.Fountain pen

I am writing and writing furiously. Even stupid things now seem worth a page in one of my many notebooks at work or home. I am almost waiting to find an excuse to write. And I wonder every time I put pen to paper, how did I lose all those years. My old handwriting is not back, sadly. I miss it every day now. But I am not going to let that deter me from my writing. I am not making the same mistake twice. This time, the old art is here to stay.