By now you are all probably familiar with my writing habits and my love affair with fountain pens. I write long hand, I love the smell of ink on plain white paper. My fountain pen is quite old and it doesn’t take cartridges. It fills from a bottle. During my last visit to my mother about less than a year ago, I carried my fountain with me in my purse but I wasn’t sure if I could carry the ink bottle in my carry-on. And I didn’t want to put it with my clothes in case the bottle broke. I was confident that once I reached my destination it would be easy to find ink. I didn’t even bother to take my netbook with me because of the shortage of electricity there at the time.
Two days after my arrival, I went in search of ink. The nearest stationery is only a few minutes walking distance from my brother’s place, so I went with him. The stationery is the biggest in the area and distributor to every other bookstore, stationery, and school in all of the Bekaa valley. I went in and asked the saleslady if she had any ink bottles for fountain pens.
“Oh those, we don’t have them.” she said. “Nobody uses them anymore and we don’t get them.”
I was surprised, since I always used to buy my yearly supplies of ink from that same place. I had even thought that I would get all the different colors this time. The closest to what I was looking for were roller ball pens. So I got myself a couple and walked out disappointed. On our way back my brother said, “You know maybe you should change your habit of writing. Strange as it is.”
“Strange? Oh no. My habit is not strange. You know Benjamin Franklin liked to write immersed in a bathtub, and so did Edmond Rostand. Raymond Carver wrote in his automobile.
After Emily Dickinson died, the vast body of her work was found scrawled on the backs of envelopes or grocery bills and on odd scraps of paper.
Thomas Wolfe wrote on sheets of yellow paper with pencil stubs he kept in a coffee can.
Truman Capote’s favorite writing tool was Blackwing No. 602, a black lead pencil made by Faber Castell. And John Steinbeck wrote with pencil but complained that hexagonal pencils cut into his fingers after a long day, so his editor at Viking Press supplied him with round pencils.
Shelby Foote who used the old fashioned dip pen and inkwell had a difficult time finding blotters and pen points. So you see, my habit is not that strange after all.”