For the Love of a Good Fountain Pen - Thoughts on Fountain Pen Day
It's Fountain Pen Day! Today is the first Friday in November, the day of the year where all of us analogue folks and stationery nuts can celebrate all of the craziness of fountain pens without our usual decorum and restraint. I know for us here in the shop, every day is sort of fountain pen day, since it's what we do! But we'll take any reason to celebrate. It's nice to have a day to think about how important pens have been to our history as a culture and society, and how they still can mean a lot to the way to write and draw and think, but really, I think it's just fun to celebrate how much enjoyment and meaning something as seemingly inconspicuous as a good fountain pen can bring to our lives. People often ask how's business, or who's still using these things, and it always opens up to a surprising conversation - people who are asking are usually asking because they're already curious or interested in how pens may still exist in our world today. Whether or not they're doubtful about pens still being important in our new world today, I think the curiosity comes from something inside us that can acknowledge and appreciate what it means to write by hand, even with a smart phone in our pocket. I know I mention this on the blog every now and then, and if you've been following the blog for a while you'll have heard me go on and on about this, but I think it has to do with all of our technology everywhere all the time - at work, at home, in the bathroom, the bedroom, the car, shopping for groceries, walking down the street - which has created the sort of culture where our brains are constantly being fried with streams of information, and it's a hard train to get off of. But it's sometimes when we take a minute to stop and breathe - wait in a line up without looking at our phones and strike up a conversation with someone next to us, or sit on the porch without an iPad, but with a journal and a pen - that we make real connections with other people and within ourselves. We leave markings that are evidence of our lives. And so, I think fountain pens really have a bit of a unique place today - they're a bit anachronistic, but at the same time, in some ways, even more relevant than they've ever been in the past. They're a tool that celebrate and fully allow you to unplug while still communicating - between you and a friend, reminders to yourself, an ode to the universe. It's the intentionality and possibility with which you choose a pen and its ink, and the process and ritual of filling and cleaning a pen, and all of the history that a pen can carry that speak much more deeply to the act of writing than the transient nature of emails and text messages. It is the physical act of writing, but it's also the meaning we have in something that's not disposable, something that has had its own journey with us, carried through school or purchased in celebration of an occasion, and something that we can fill and refill endlessly. We use it to put marks on a page that represent stories and humour and learning and messages to others and everything that makes us, us. But another important reason that Fountain Pen Day means so much to us is this incredible community that's been brought together. It's our regulars who come and visit us and play with the cat (to play with the cat??), it's people who have been following along with our story on the blog and on Instagram and who have seen Caleb grow up from this tiny bean sprout to all limbs and yelling and running around, it's vendors and manufacturers who send us pears for Christmas, it's names we've seen over and over again in our queue and who leave friendly and funny and sometimes irreverent notes about these pens and inks and papers that we all just can't get enough of. It's faces we see over and over again, smiling over the pen counter, or those familiar names that pop up in our queue. It's crazy to think that we can think of cities across the country and remember which customers are from where. So we're celebrating all of this today, Fountain Pen Day. We've got a few package sets at special, one-day-only discounted prices for you to share with friends or neighbours or just folks who you know would appreciate what it means to write something by hand, but maybe haven't yet discovered fountain pens. (These are already flying off the shelves, and if we run out of stock of an ink for a set, we'll try to reshuffle to keep them available all day.) But we're also just kind of celebrating. I cleaned out a few pens yesterday, and inked up even more - what kind of stationery shop owner would I be if I didn't celebrate Fountain Pen Day without an overflowing pen roll? Jon picked up some egg tarts this morning, for the team and for people who stop by the shop. Egg tarts and pens, and maybe a bit of letter writing - alongside packing up orders and saying hello to folks in the shop and rambling on here on the blog. I've been writing a few thank you notes (slowly but surely!) to folks who dropped by with gifts or snacks for us at the pen show, and it's actually the perfect way to celebrate. Using some of my favourite pens and ink to thank people who have been supporting us as we try our best to hustle and survive as an independent business on one of our craziest days of the year. Folks who are supporting us and allowing us to make a living and spend our days with fountain pens - and then share the love with you.