“Spray paint and ink pens, I write in every color I think in”

I got a new pen. I originally used the Bic Atlantis fine point for the longest time (mainly because it flowed well and I had the squishy grip version) – but then the supply chain shake-up occurred. I know that the pandemic has definitely struck the supply chain in all sorts of odd ways but I never thought it would affect my pens. Right now, I can only find the Bic Atlantis in medium point, not fine or extra fine. And when I get these pens, I basically would tear them apart for their cartridge so that I can shove it in my squishy pen. That’s a lot of plastic and springs laying around. I keep the springs for my tech projects but the plastic goes in the trash. Some turtle is going to eventually choke on that and it’s wholly unnecessary.

It also wasn’t great writing The Harlequin and running through four pens – four pens I only could find by tearing my apartment apart while trying not to forget the story or scene I was writing. I have shown this on Twitter, I run through several pens when I write one work. I’m really proud when I do that because it tells me that I’m doing something, getting something done. But the “hunting for a new pen because you forgot you ran out” thing is not great. And double suck with the fact that the pen I write with, they don’t really make any more. And even if so, it’s a lot of plastic and metal I’m discarding.

So, while looking for replacement pen cartridges, I found fountain pens. I have been writing with fountain pens since I was a teenager but I always had cartridges fountain pens. I wanted an inkwell fountain pen. Because, fancy.

And I got one!

It’s a Twisbi Vac700R, Limited Edition Iris, extra fine nib

Please don’t look up the price. I try to focus on the pretty, myself.

No more plastic! Just shove it in an inkwell, have it slurp up some ink and start writing. This introduces a new problem – color. I don’t want to write in plain black since I have a vibrant option not to. The pen is almost entirely see-through, why not? But I also don’t want to get caught up in just selecting colors for a work because I make my system as plain and systemic as possible. Nothing to distract, nothing to deviate.

But, but, ink colors. And it doesn’t help that ink bottles are very pretty.

See? Pretty.

I like pretty.

This means I now have a crapton of ink. I learned from the fountain pen community – mainly watching them swatch random inks on various paper for hours – how there were different kinds of inks and styles. And that my paper & pen are haters. No glitter, it will clog my extra fine nib. No sheen, my paper will sop it all up and turn the color plain (It made my Birmingham Pen Co. ink turn dark teal, it’s supposed to be dark blue and with a sheen whenever it catches the light). All my works are penned on Southworth paper. Wait! No. Diamine will sheen on my paper but Birmingham Pen Co. ink won’t.

Now, in exchange for this hateration, I get the same writing experience I had prior, if not better. I don’t have bleed through, the words lay down fine on the page, etc. The primary purpose of the ink is to be legible and get the story on the page, not glitter and sheen (tho the second anyone make a glitter ink for extra fine nibs, I’m nabbin’ it). I also don’t have to dissect and tear apart pens just to get the cartridge and when I run out, I just have to fill up my pen again, not hunt for another pen to destroy for its ink. Just refill and go. And since I use a special filler designed for my pen, I get no ink anywhere. Not even on my hands. Even when it comes to cleaning, I just have to run the ink chamber and the nib itself under water and let it dry. Because I’m sadiddy, I use a small ultrasonic cleanser (literally not necessary, I’m just extra, and the pen stays in storage for a long time between works so it’s useful to me.) So, yes, there is tear down but it’s for sensible upkeep, nothing is getting chucked into the trash.

The inks I have so far, at the time of this posting:

Higgin’s Fountain Pen Ink India (wasn’t intentional, just needed ink and Birmingham was slow to ship)

Diamine’s Writer’s Blood (Because gaaaaawth, very goth.)

Birmingham Pen Company’s Voltaic Arc (which my paper turns dark teal and removes all the sheen)

Diamine’s Midnight Hour (Makes me think of the song “Midnight Hour” by Talib Kweli and Estelle. The prettiest ink I own so far – and it has sheen! Birmingham made me think sheen inks don’t work on my paper, Diamine proved them wrong.)

Inks I plan to get:

  • Ferris Wheel Press Ink
  • Dominant Industry
  • Colorverse

Now, I would love to get Montegrappa’s Harry Potter Inks in Ravensclaw, buuuuuuuuuut Rowling really has shown her whole derriere, hasn’t she? From the blatant transphobia to the fiddling she is even doing with her own stories* (wizards don’t poop? Then what about the prefect bathroom?! Moaning Myrtle!) And then there’s the race switcheroo they did with Lavender in the movies. How shady. So I’mma pass. I really, really want the ink – but then I forgot that Ferris Wheel Press literally exists. I love their whimsy and magicalness of their ink and presentation.

I haven’t been able to find a Black-owned ink maker, there’s gotta be one somewhere. I would love to try their inks if I ever come across one.

J. Herbin inks are nice … but they’re a French ink company that’s clocking 350+ years. Yay, Voltaire wrote Les Miserables with their ink … and so did Louis XIV and Napoleon. Y’know, people who created or super created institutions and structures that definitely owe my family tree reparations, both my American side and my Jamaican side (I’m half Jamaican, half Black American) lol. Not at all J. Herbin’s fault whatsoever. They been around for 350 years and they’re ink makers, they didn’t create the historical harm. But I can’t help but remember my grandmother’s words “A Black man robs with a gun but a White man robs with a pen” when I look at J. Herbin’s history and the notables in it. Again, not their personal fault, it’s just my personal thing. Diamine started in 1864, the British still were acting stupid around the world but had some (and I mean some, imagine a gnat’s wing) of its act together. And they, y’know, specifically made the ink used by Obama (& President Medvedev of Russia) for the nuclear arms treaty in Prague, Royal Blue, a very partial save to me. Extremely partial. Imagine half a fly’s wing.

Diamine also started during one of my favorite historical eras: The Victorian Era. The Victorian Era is also one of my favorite – if not my only favorite – eras in Western literary history. I personally think Victorian literature is the apex of Western literature**, especially dark romanticism – which I read a lot of. (Dark romanticism is a subset of Victorian literature, meant to reply to Romanticism). In other words, Diamine pulled ahead of J. Herbin for me because the person who made Diamine just so happened to do so during one of my personal favorite eras of both history and literature … and in the very country that created that defining literature and historical era. Whereas J. Herbin still has “Orient” in one of their ink color names (Rouge d’Orient = English: Oriental Red). I jokingly call them “Oppression in a bottle”, because it’s funny and silly. So, I shall stare at the J. Herbin ink because they’re pretty – some are even scented! Buuuuuut I’ll buy a couple bottles from Diamine. And ‘das it. Two. Ya got lucky, Diamine.

I’m in love with Dominant Industry and Ferris Wheel Press. Both are way newer than Diamine and J. Herbin. They both started within the last 20 years, if not less. Dominant Industry is in South Korea (who, like Britain, I have a bit of a soft spot for. And who, unlike Britain, doesn’t have a history that make me stare lopsided, going, “wow, sooooo, you’re trash. Pretty trash. Partial compost. But still trash.” Especially as it pertains to my family tree). Now, there are other S. Korean brands, such as Colorverse and 3 Oysters, but the bottles for Dominant Industry are pretty and so are the inks. They make me think of lightbulbs.

Ferris Wheel Press is so … fanciful! Gah, the whimsy. They capture whimsical perfectly from the box to the bottle to the ink. Makes me think of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “Fanciful carnival in the sky” level whimsical and fantastical. They’re Canadian, meh (Canada is a mix of British and French wtf history – but they like to pretend they’re nice & open minded, borrowed from Britain). As long as Ferris Wheel keeps up the whimsy, I’ll keep staring. And buying. And that’s saying something, their bottles are not cheap. Fancy ink, fancy bottle, fancy price.

As for the pen itself. It writes well. I want the thinnest nib evaaaaar. I should be able to draw blood with it nearly. Thin lines are nice lines and that’s what I like. It writes beautifully to me. One fill of the ink chamber (I call it “the vial” since that’s what it reminds me of) can go for 60 skeleton journal pages, which is basically 8.5”x5.5”. It’s literally a plain piece of paper folded in half so perhaps a single fill can do 30 full pages but for my journals, it’s 60 on a single fill. That’s about 2 signatures (bundles of folded sheets of paper) for my skeleton journals. I write over 100 pages regularly and my journals are usually about 3-5 signatures long. The journals for predicted super long works are about 8 signatures long.

That means I need a lot of ink and a very reliable pen, in other words.

This really does need to be said – any pen and any paper can be used for creative writing. Any recording medium can be used for creative writing. Whether you’re using a free copy of Libre office on a cheap laptop, whether you’re using a plain Bic pen nabbed from the post office and some regular printer paper lifted from work, whether you’re typing it into the Notes of your $35 phone. If it can retain words, it can work. Do not think you need to start sinking mega money into hoity toity writing instruments just because a random person on the internet did. Don’t do it. Not worth it. If it isn’t for you, it is definitely a waste of money just to do the total basics of writing down a story. You can write down a story anywhere that can hold onto words.

If anyone wants to use a fountain pen, they don’t have to be as expensive as mine. There are $3 inkwell refillable fountain pens that still look really nice (Pilot Petit1, take out the cartridge when you’re done and it’s inkwell refillable). There is $5 ink (Higgin’s Fountain Pen Ink India) that will last you a long while. Still looks nice, still does the fancy thing, all of that.

I feel like I needed to include that because I have definitely seen in some writing circles “I want to write a book, what computer should I get?” – any that has a functional keyboard, screen and word processor, bare minimum. “I want to write a book, what pen should I get?” – any that has ink in it, bare minimum. It doesn’t require fancies to write at all. I personally love fountain pens and ink and all sorts but I still wrote with a Bic Atlantis for the longest time until they stopped making it easy to find.

*Yes, she is free to meddle and mix with her own stories. They are hers, she wrote them. I would want the same for my own works. It’s just … the blatant inconsistency! Gah!

** @ the gods, don’t @ me. I said what I said. The refinery, the fashion, the class. (Sans the racial & gender bullsh*t, they could have left that in the trash)

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