To that end, I spent the lunch hour today cleaning out my fountain pens.
Here are two of the three I own. The top one I bought at a bookstore in Vietnam. Fountain pens and inks were all the rage with my younger students, so I did it partially for the "cool" factor. It only cost about USD$1, and it's one of the best pens I have. The bottom one is a Parker, the first fountain pen I ever purchased, back when I was studying abroad (why did I buy an American pen in the UK?!). It never really worked very well for me, and I chalked it up to being left-handed. It's mostly unused, but I hope that after a good rinse the ink will run smoothly from any angle. I've got one more at home, an old Parker that my dad gave me (rather, I found it when digging through an old desk and claimed it), which could stand a really thorough flushing out.
Most fountain pens these days have disposable ink cartridges, but I like to stick with converters so I can re-ink out of bottles. That way I can play around with different colors. Currently I use blues and greens, but I like the look of a brown or grey ink. Or a deep magenta.
You can't see it too clearly, but the ink runs differently out of each of the pens. There's a different feel to the writing, too, since the pens themselves are so different in weight and texture. I prefer the top one because the ink runs out much more evenly, albeit in higher volume; the metal case and slimmer body also give this a nice weight in my hand as I write. The Parker pen is lighter, as the (clear blue) case is plastic, but it the weightiness comes when the cap's on top. The part that you hold while writing is rubber, though, and while it provides more grip, I don't quite like it as much as the feel of metal in the other pen. It's also a thicker pen, which doesn't sit as well in my little hands. I'm glad that the ink's running out more evenly than before (maddeningly start-and-stop), but as you can see at the "h," "j," and "q," where it thins out, the ink flow is still not perfect. I hope that it will become more so with more use.
My writing is not perfectly straight, so I try always to get journals with unlined pages (which means I usually end up getting sketchbooks) or a grid. Whenever I start writing a new page, my nervousness shows in uneven writing. But it smooths out as I get in the rhythm of the pen as well as the content. I like that feeling of increasing composure and confidence.
As the year begins, I am still a bit wobbly in many areas of my life. But as I continue to think about the year's dreams and goals, I find myself more and more ready for all the weeks and months ahead. And "ready" doesn't mean I see or am necessarily working towards a particular goal, but simply that I'm good to go, whereever the road may lead. I hope that things will come into greater focus and that I'll pick up speed and strength as I head towards them. I'm almost done with my list of resolutions for 2011; looking foward to writing them over and over on little cards and tucking them in all of my daily places, and sharing with you here.