Confessions of a Pen Picky Writer

My search for the best writing instrument

blue pen 120Originally published in the Fenton Patch newspaper February 2013

In my house you will not find pens lying around in drawers. You will not find one of those desk pencil holders laden with writing implements brandishing drugs or company names.

The fact is I am very picky about what I write with. I polish off over a thousand and very often two thousand words a day with pen to paper. Therefore anything requiring pressure to put a nice dark line on the paper also adds refuse to the dumpster. If you want to see my anger rise then just hand me one of those pens where you have to run it around the paper to get the ink flowing. They immediately turn into missiles in the general directions of the wastebasket. And don’t even bother giving me as a gift those wood or other expensive executive pens that look nice, but write terrible. Forget those half-thought out whimsical things that are fat, skinny, have an animal head attached to the top or a triangular piece of rubber near the tip.

This is not to say that I do not test pens. In fact I look for and write with almost every new pen that comes out. One can correctly conclude that the function of a pen is more important to me than style or prestige. Once in a restaurant in Singapore I watched the waitress write our order down effortlessly. She was kind enough to loan me her pen to test for a couple minutes of high speed writing on the paper placemat. It did write very well indeed. She had to ask her boss where he purchased them. The reply came back that he always picked them up in the Philippines when he went there because he could not find good inexpensive pens in Singapore.

Some of the gel ink pens have found favor with me. They were purchased six to twenty at a time and kept in their box on my desk until ready to be used.

A few years back I encountered pens made by a German company called Lamy. The company has won many design awards for their writing instruments. The rollerballs and ballpoints have an excellent feel in the hand, but failed my writing tests. However one day the store exhibited their fiberglass and stainless steel fountain pen known as the 2000. It was exquisite, had great balance in the hand, and wrote smoothly. It had what I liked. When the saleslady told me the cost of $300 USD I asked her to repeat the amount to be sure I heard it correctly. While exquisite to write with there was no way to justify that amount.

A few months later a colorful fountain pen in ABS plastic graced the storefront window. Oh yes I was back in there immediately taking it for a spin around the paper. The contoured gripping section puts the steel nib at the correct angle for writing. Lightweight combined with balance gives it an ease in the hand. The open viewing area reveals the amount of ink remaining. And the pocket clip does its job better than any pen I have had before. All of that for $32 USD.

Two years have elapsed since I purchase that first Safari model. Many cartridges of ink of run through it and it still writes as well as it did the first day.

There is a variety in all Lamy pens and especially the Safari. Here in Colombia many executives carry the black model with them. In the movie “The Grey,” Liam Neeson was seen at the beginning writing with a white one. Yellow, blue and red pens sit on my desk. You can have your choice of broad, medium fine or extra fine nibs. Ink cartridges come in seven different colors. My wife is fond of turquoise color in one of her pens.

If you enjoy thoughts traveling through your hand and transforming into word on paper then my recommendation is a Lamy pen. I have never seen a store in the USA selling their writing instruments, but you can get them online with free shipping on orders over $55 USD. Now if I can just get Patch to give out a Lamy Safari pen, or better yet a Lamy 2000, with their logo on it I will be a happy camper.

Disclaimer: I have no association with the Lamy Company, am not being compensated for this writing and do not gain financially in anyway shape or form from the sale of their items.


  1. Hello, I now live in Armenia, Quindio Colombia and am a new and growing fan of fountain pens. I recently dropped my Twsbi Eco off the table onto the tile floor damaging the nib. I have been searching around Armenia looking for another fountain pen and have only found a cartridge feed Parker. Only one style no variety. I ran across your blog and saw you writing about your Lamy fountain pen. I have to ask, did you purchase that while in Colombia and if so please let me know where I may find one. If not, do you know of a location I can find a selection of fountain pens? I enjoyed reading your story and am eagerly awaiting your response. Blessings to you both.


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