Fountain pens are addictive.
I've written here about a couple of fountain pens I've bought and enjoyed, including a Rotring Newton and a Pilot Capless. I have particularly enjoyed writing with my Pilot Capless, which I only use with a converter and bottled ink, but I have recently started to get mildly irritated with the slightly fiddly process of filling (you have to remove the inner nib unit from the pen) and also the small ink capacity of the converter. I am writing with a fountain pen more often, and have found that I frequently start to write, only to find that the ink has run out. Since I keep the ink bottles at home, that means waiting until I get back to refill.
At some point I stumbled across Michael Randall's excellent review of the Lamy 2000 fountain pen, and I fell in love1. I loved the sleek, minimalist look of it, I loved the fact that it was a piston filler (no converter needed), and that it seemingly held a generous volume of ink. I loved the whole anti-bling vibe of it, and the fact that they have been making the same design since 1966, and yet it looks completely modern.
I tried to resist, I really did.
I read more reviews of the pen, wherever I could find them. I delayed a purchase and thought about it for several weeks, but still really wanted the Lamy. I made a deal with myself: I would go into an actual shop and try the pen out properly. Only if I genuinely found that it felt comfortable and natural in my hand and that the nib suited my writing would I purchase it.
It was love at first hold. Birdfish commented on Michael's review that the pen feels like holding a favourite pebble from the beach, and that describes the experience perfectly to me. The tactile nature of the Makrolon body (smooth but just enough friction to make it fun to stroke) and its continuous unbroken curves combine to make it a real pleasure to handle. I have found myself holding and playing with the pen, even when I'm not writing with it, because it is such a nice object.
The nib is lovely and the smoothest I've ever used. It never skips or stalls, so it is as convenient as a gel pen or ballpoint pen to use. I now use a fountain pen for every bit of writing, except on surfaces where fountain pen ink would smear or blotch too much. In fact, writing with it is such a pleasure that I find any excuse to get it out and write. It is very easy to fill by twisting the end cap, cleans up quickly afterwards, and holds enough ink for me to write for a couple of weeks between fillings. Since it has the handy ink windows, I can also check the level easily, and avoid getting caught out with an empty 'tank' at work.
One surprise was the nib size I chose. Several reviews say that the nibs are broader than equivalent sizes on other pens, so that an extra-fine is more like a fine on other pens, for example2. I use a fine nib on my Pilot Capless, and had assumed that I would need a fine or extra fine nib on the Lamy. I had assumed that fine nibs suited me. Then I tried a medium nib, and it was a revelation. I immediately felt more comfortable, and my handwriting was so much better that it usually is.
A few years ago I finally accepted that I am one of life's natural, chunky, cheery, big-footed Hobbits, not a willowy emo Elf, and found it to be liberating. Yes! I can run through the wet grass with my big, hairy, bare Hobbit feet to enjoy my second breakfast, and all those skinny, miserable Elves can sit around in the forest being moody and mysterious for all I care. Pass the beer.
Similarly, you can get the feeling when reading various online resources devoted to fountain pens that if you have a fountain pen, you really have to get one with a fine nib. I had assumed that if I wanted neat, elegant handwriting, I needed a fine nib. Of course, it is obvious now, but you need to choose your nib to suit your handwriting, not the other way around. My writing is big and curvy, and I was cramping its style by trying to make it Elf-like.
Getting this pen has really made me enjoy writing by hand again, and made it a natural, rather lovely thing. I agonised about buying it as it isn't a cheap pen (though certainly not in the astronomical price bracket of many fountain pens). However, I already consider it a bargain because of the pleasure it has given me, and with the lifetime guarantee and timeless design, I hope to still be using it happily 20 years from now. And after the revelation about my perfect nib size, I even wonder if I should get a medium nib unit to put in my Pilot Capless.
1 With the pen, not Michael, though I'm sure he's a lovely chap. ↑
2 I believe that the newer models have standardized these sizes a bit, so I may have one of these models. ↑