write good

Today’s post comes from tim

the suggestion that we sharpen up the pencil and write a blog by renae last week led me to think about writing untensils. i am a typist for the most part these days and the point of my finger has leaned to navigated the space allowed on the 4inch screen of an iphone as allowed in the world of steve jobs vision come true.

in a former life i wrote with pens and pencils. i still do on occasion and seldom think about the writing utensil in my hand but when i do i have an opinion.

remember the big black pencils in the 1st grade classroom? as big as a magic marker instead of a pencil. i wonder what the logic there was. give a little tiny hand a monster pencil to learn how to write? someone obviously thought it was a good idea. i graduated from the big black pencil in miss majeras’ first grade class to a fountain pen in the catholioc shcool i went to begining in second grade. there was a penmanship grade on our report cards and a portion of the week ( i dont think it was daily but it definately was a regular class) was dedicated to making sure we all did good when attempting to write a paper about our second grade observations on the world around us or penning stories about our understanding of the place of an 8 uear old in the universe.

the fountain pen was a magic implement. it made all ink it discharged seem important. a ballpoint pen was the way the rest of the world functioned in 1962 but at the nativity of the blessed virgin mary we were above all that. we needed to have our writing be special and so we used either a bottle of ink and an old fashion fountain pen with a bladder or as most in the class did we bought he shaffer pen with the little cartridges or we  could if we were rich do the wearever which was a fancy version with a better nib on the pen and a more flamboyant script was certainly bound to come out the tip.

i am a fan of the roller ball pen today but by today i mean 1970/80 technology. form what i can tell anything gel pen is the same thing today. the smooth writing that flows out of the tip of a rollerball/gelpen is a feeling i apprecaite.

my friend the organized former landscape architect likes a .05 not .07 lead pencil. always a quality point and always a good tool to write with.i never know where i put that darn little pack of lead inserts to keep it writin .   the old bic with the clear body and the bic blue top is a classic design that makes my jaw hurt looking at it remembering all the blue caps i have chewed on until the no longer went back on to cover the business part of the pen to keep it from blue spotting the pocket i am going to put it in.

my new cell phone has a feature that allows me to write either with a stylus on the screen or even with my fingertip. it is a feeling of being from the future to have the tip of yur finger be a writing utensil that works.

black pencil, yellow pencil, mechanical pencil, ball point pen, roller ball, fountain pen, keyboard, touchscreen, dictation pop ups on the screen that transform what i meant to what the spellchecker translator thought i said…

usually the way i get the meat of the idea i am trying to form onto a transferable  format is a non thought but as i have started using the franklin planner for my business notes and charting the day it find it is great to start journaling the day. the thoughts and ambitions of the day get lined up and forgotten unless there is a way of keeping track. so paper is good. i am sure the notes of my internet life will go unnoticed with me to the great beyond in the year i depart. no one will ever want to look at my emails and files other than the pictures and some of the special chosen few snippets of the deep and profound thoughts i have on occasion.

what makes you write good?

56 thoughts on “write good”

  1. Husband insists on Uniball Vision Elite, of which he has 2 in his brief case. I am fond of retractable pencils, .7 lead thickness.

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  2. My grandfather gave me one of his old fountain pens, along with a bottle of ink. The pen had a rubber reservoir you sqeezed to fill up the pen. I loved it.

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  3. Thanks for this, tim. I’ve been lamenting of late that all my ball point pens leave that dark glop of ink when you least expect it… time to toss them and find (get) some quality instruments. I have a sympanthy note to write today, and I’ll find the nicest pen I can, sit down at an actual table that supports my arm, and use penmanship. I wish I did this more often – it’s becoming a lost art.

    I remember those little cartridge pens – I had a blue and a purple, wish they still made them. A friend of mine has a collection of old fountain pens – at least she did at one time. There were some beauties, bet you’d appreciate them.

    Not sure if I answered the question, but when has that been an issue?

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    1. I took my college notes with a fountain pen that had cartridges and had a porous tip, not a point. College lecture chairs are a trial for us left handed, but they made me turn in way that kept my had out of the ink. i would have kept writing that way elsewhere except it was uncomfortable. For some reason the ink pen made my writing easier to read, I mean better penmanship. I kept my college notes for 30 years. I am sure a writing expert could have proved it was my writing, but my it was different.

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      1. that is exactly what is wrong with downsizing. getting rid of stuff when the total savings amouts to tewo boxes of cereal. those notes would be of value in the study of an interesting life.
        studs terkell made folks you meet on the street an interesting endevour.
        maybe thats my fatre. i started a collection of faces for a website called faceplace i will get underway someday soon. i have started the face collection. i will look at studs terkel like stories of folks as well. interesting interesting

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  4. I have a very definite preference when it comes to pens. My cuurent preference is the Pentel EnerGel pen, capped not retractable, with the .7mm ball, metal point. It has to be a .7mm ball; the guy at Office Max – excuse me, Office Depot tried to convince me that the same brand retractable pen with a .5mm ball would be just as good, but it’s not. It’s just a tiny bit scratchy. Since I’m left-handed, it’s important that the ink not smear and this is perfect in that regard. The ink also flows very smoothly, the most important quality for me, and is not too thin (= too scratchy) and not too thick (= too hard to write legibly).

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  5. Watching HVS’s Anne with An E. Watching them use dip pens like we had to in school. I cam smell the ink.
    Left-handed–I avoided pens for years. Used pencil. Now they make pens that do not smear. Now I cannot write.

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    1. Another lefty! Yes, for years I had a semi-permanent smear of ink on my left hand – back when I wrote by hand more than I do now. Sorry that you cannot benefit from the new smear-less pens, NorthShorer. 😦

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    2. i see lefties write in that lefty curl of the wrist over the top of the pen. i always go out of my way to ask. catholic school fountain pen training? it usually was and makes for an interesting conversation for 1 or 2 minutes.

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  6. Rise and Shine Baboons!

    Just in from the garden, having worked before the deadly heat starts. I need a shower, but I cannot stop sweating! It is a good time for blog writing while I cool down.

    My handwriting is atrocious, no matter what the tool. I do like mechanical pencils (the cheap Bic ones), but even with those I cannot read what I myself have written.

    OT: my son is looking for homes for two cats. He and his allergic girlfriend are moving in together. One is an older, healthy cat (Euclid). The other is a younger cat (4-5 years) who does not live easily with other cats–Harriet. If anyone knows someone looking to adopt a cat let me know!

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      1. 3 years. And his job is now requiring too much travel to care for the cats as he wants to. So he has come to this dreary conclusion. Even if the relationship does not work, the travel has become a factor. 😦

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        1. My two cats are 6 and 13. He hated her for a few weeks, then made an adjustment (more like giving up being upset). What I’ve learned with cats (17 over the last 25 years) is that they can be left home alone for weeks at a time. Just leave a large bowl of dry cat food and the toilet lid up. Seriously. When I was hospitalized for most of 3 months, and as long as a friend dropped in once a week to scoop out the litter box, these two were just fine. In fact, my homecoming was met with indifference – as though I’d never left!

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    1. I have the same kind of handwriting, Jacque – it gets more like my grandma’s the older I get, which is not a good thing. 🙂

      I like the yellow Papermate mechanicals where you can screw the lead in and out rather than clilcking – the lead doesn’t break off….

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  7. My new computer has Cortana, to which I rarely speak, my external retro keyboard, and a touch screen, which I have never touched. It does have Windows 10 voice recognition, which I have yet to use on this computer. The keyboard helps me a lot.

    Anne with an E, is, as Steve says, much harder edge. I am glad they deal with the realities of child abuse. The constant allusions to and quotes from Jane Eyre I find jarring. The style and look and feel of it carries me away. I like and am bothered by the additions to the story. When they show the farmyard and barn and horses in the winter, I smell and feel it all. It is deep in my soul. But Anne confuses me. She is and looks perfect for the role. The problem is she looks exactly like and has the voice and mannerism of the other woman in my life, my physical therapist. Eerie. My PT looks that age.

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  8. Morning all. I love writing utensils – in life outside work and blog I much prefer to write than to type (although I am a much faster typist that scribbler). Office supply stores are dangerous for me – and I also have trouble staying away from holiday/’theme pencils and highlighters. I am particularly fond of gel and roller pens; maybe it’s just marketing but they feel like the ink glides more smoothly onto paper. I also have several of the old cartridge pens – I primarily use them for calligraphy these days. Not crazy about mechanical pencils – I break the lead too easily!

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  9. I use pencils, my preference being Pilot G-2 07. I also write a lot with pens.My latest find is the Paper Mate Ink Joy Gel 0.7, they write smooth, no mess, and come in a variety of colors to suit my ever changing moods. What I use comes down to what I am writing at the moment. If I am journaling that is in ink, but if I am thought-dumping, outlining, working on a rough draft then it’s a pencil all the way.

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  10. Lefties seem to be statistically over-represented among the Baboons.
    Having never been interned at a Catholic school, I don’t adopt the curled position for writing. I also have never written with a back slant, though that seems to be expected of a southpaw. I’ve smeared my share of ink, but have managed to find ways to avoid it.
    For one thing, I’ve quickly learned which markers dry slowly and which dry more quickly. Flair pens, and I’m going back decades here- I don’t know if they still make them, used to be very slow to dry, so I tended not to use them. There was a pen called Pilot SC-UF that had a fine point and dried quickly. It would also write on just about anything. These days my alternative to that is the Sharpie ultrafine.
    I went through a period when I favored a disposable (non-refillable) fountain pen called the Pilot Varsity for taking notes. They are still available and they have a good, responsive nib. Obviously, I had to pay attention to where my hand was when I used them. Osmiroid used to make fountain pens for calligraphy with interchangeable tips. Maybe they still do. They also made a pen with a variable gold-plated nib. I have one of those but no cartridges for it. I haven’t used it in at least 35 years and I don’t know if they are still on the market.
    For several years, my favorite ball point pen was the Zebra F-402. It’s a retractable pen of stainless steel with a rubber grip. It has heft. It also is a comfortable diameter for my hand. Some pens, I find, are too light or too skinny or too short to afford optimal control. I also find that there seems to be a trend toward making pens frictionless. I like a little resistance when I write. Frictionless pens feel slippery to me and harder to control.
    In truth, I am most comfortable with a pencil. It feels more naturally an extension of my hand. For drawing, I like an Ebony pencil as well as anything. It’s quite soft—probably about a 6B—and requires frequent sharpening for that reason, but it’s inexpensive and produces a variety of line weights. I have to be careful not to drag my hand through pencil lines, though.
    For note taking, especially away from the possibility of sharpening my pencil, inexpensive retractable lead pencils work satisfactorily. I don’t trust their erasers, though.

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    1. I’m curious – how many other lefties here? So far, I count me, NorthShorer, and billinmpls. Any others? One of my four grandchildren is a leftie, but of course he isn’t on this blog.

      I don’t do the curled position for writing, either, and was never in a Catholic school, but I’ve seen lefties in public school adopt that position, so it’s not just the catholic school goers.

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        1. My mother was a southpaw. The nuns in her Irish grade school tried to break her of it. Apparently that was the experience of Dory Previn as well. Here’s a song she wrote about it: Left Hand Lost:

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        2. a righty does everything right a lefty is anyone who does anything left and they usually do some things (even most) right this is the info i got and buy into.

          im a lefty and write and eat left handed and do most everything else right

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        3. I’m a lefty but I use scissor righthanded. I think it’s because they only had scissors for righties at school back in the day (before the day of scissors that work with either handedness) so I had to either learn to cut righthanded or not cut at all and then I couldn’t learn to cut lefthanded even when my mother bought me lefthanded kids scissors.

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        4. A lefty that was exclusively left, or sinister or gauche, would be pretty disabled I think. Most of us do a certain amount of things right handed. I write left handed, but eat ambidextrously. Like ljb, I find left-handed scissors awkward. I learned to golf right handed, though I can golf left handed equally badly.

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      1. I am a southpaw…my writing seems to change each and every day. Sometimes there is the back slant, sometimes there isn’t. Most of my younger school days were plagued with very poor penmanship…but I was determined to improve. I am still working on that, but for the most part I am content with my handwriting, When I sit down to work on any writing project, I honestly prefer just a simple, cheap Bic Cristal ballpoint pen-always blue ink.

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    2. I believe I used to have one of those Osmoroid fountain pens with interchangeable tips. I hung onto it for a long time, but got rid of it when I realized that I would never do calligraphy again and I didn’t know of any left-handed calligraphers who would have liked it.

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  11. The 20+ years I spent as an art director before the computer supplanted most of the hand lettering we used to have to do pretty completely erased any trace of Palmer method script handwriting I was taught in elementary school. These days, my natural style is a hybrid of printing with inconsistently joined letters. It’s legible, but nothing you would call penmanship.

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  12. My penmanship is old fashioned, and depending on the day and how I feel, it may neat and easy-flowing or jagged and erratic. What it looks like is much more dependent how I feel than what particular writing implement I’m using. Some days I write beautifully, and other days it’s an embarrassment; either way, I’m right handed.

    From first grade on, penmanship was emphasized, neatness counted, and a yellow pencil was used until the dip pen was introduced in fifth grade. From 1954 through graduation in 1959, all written assignments, even in math, had to be turned in in ink. We were not allowed to use ballpoint pens (horrors!), and I must have been 14 years old before I got my first fountain pen, a Parker with a rubber bladder for refilling with ink. A good fountain pen was a treasure and was treated with great respect, not something you replaced like you do with a Bic pen.

    How I hated those dip pens, especially for math assignments. When drawing the double straight line under the sum of problem, invariably it would smear, and, as I said, neatness counted.

    These days I use whatever ballpoint pen I can lay my hands on, often one of those freebies you get at the bank or your automechanic’s. For some reason I don’t like using pencils anymore, don’t really know why, I used the ballpoint pen for everything, including Sudokus. While I appreciate that some pens write better than others, I just don’t seem to be able to keep track of them, so I’ve quit investing in good pens, but I do enjoy it when I occasionally find one. I’ll have to check out some of the ones suggested here.

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  13. My handwriting was exceptional all of my life – until the last 2-3 years. Now, it’s so illegible that I can’t write in birthday cards or notes. I don’t know why aging causes this, but it’s disconcerting for sure. Thank God I was taught proficient typing!!! As I write this, I’m sitting by a space heater with the AC on (a first in 3 years). The heat index is over 100. Heat’s fine, but humidity is intolerable.

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    1. Quite the downpour here. Maybe hail, too. Very dark right before the rain and during. It’s lightening up now.

      So glad I started to water the various garden beds yesterday.

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    2. My, did it get dark. But we were on the southern end of the system. Some distant thunder; a very nice soaking. Thankful for that.

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  14. A pretty substantial rain here on the West Side, but not as heavy as many areas received, and it didn’t seem all that windy either. Checked the basement and it wasn’t particularly wet – maybe a little damp around the edges – and no big branches down, although the mock orange is sort of bowed over.

    As to the question of writing instruments, I’m also a fan of the roller ball and gel pens. There is something about them that seems to make my handwriting better than it actually is.

    A couple of years ago I came across some info about pen and pencil recycling. They were accepting them at Hillcrest Recreation Center in Highland. It was a good incentive to clear out some of those old malfuctioning pens. I haven’t checked to see if they are still collecting – I’ll have to follow up.

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  15. Recycle More at Hillcrest Rec Center!

    Highland Park residents and friends now will be able to recycle empty tape dispensers, Elmer’s glue containers, and used pens, markers and mechanical pencils at the Hillcrest Recreation Center! A bin to collect these items is in the foyer, behind the recycling bins near the front door. Please spread the word and bring these items from home to recycle! Everything that is collected will be recycled or reused by Terracycle. Thank you in advance for keeping these plastic items out of the trash!

    Accepted items:

    * empty plastic tape dispensers – any brand
    * empty plastic tape cores
    * Elmer’s brand glue bottles
    * Elmer’s brand glue sticks
    * Used pens & caps
    * Used markers & caps
    * Used mechanical pencils

    For more information, check out http://www.terracycle.com.

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    1. Well heck, knew I should have copied it before posting it…

      I said I like blue ink retractable pens. I have used mechanical pencils for years.
      And I’m glad you’re all safe from the storms.

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  16. My writing looks like a spider has been doing a Cha Cha across the page. I’ve fractured my writing hand recently, which means no typing either. But I have discovered the dictation app. Simply fabulous, although awkward on the bus. 🙃

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