When my wife and I were in Washington, DC a few weeks ago, I saw something that caught my eye in the National Art Gallery gift shop. My wife decided to give it to me a few days later as a birthday gift. The item – a quill and an old style ink pen. Now, I’ve routinely written with a fountain pen for many years; I used a Cross fountain pen as I traveled around Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait.
I like the juxtaposition of using a fountain pen to sign or annotate computer generated paperwork.
When I was in grade school we were required to use a fountain pen while learning cursive handwriting. Our desks had the hole in the upper right hand corner into which an inkwell had formerly been placed when my father went to that school.
With such extensive experience, I was fairly confident as I picked up the quill, opened the bottle of ink, dipped said quill lightly into the ink, wiped the tip against the bottle and began. My intent was to write a blog entry, scan it and publish it in all its historical finery.
Alas, my handwriting went from barely legible to Charlie Brown’s ink stained pen pal letters with blotches and smudges galore. Even though I have tried repeatedly I am still far from perfecting a skill that children from the earliest days of European settlement on this continent were able to master.
Perhaps the reason that some of the writings from the past were so profound was because the act of writing took time, and that time was available to think about what one wanted to say. Today, we can slapdash a thought through a keyboard, send it as an e-mail (or worse, “Reply All”) with little or no thought, often with unpleasant repercussions.
In thinking; in speaking; in writing – it’s quality that endures, not quantity.