Well, there is one, tiny catch. It's a contest. So stay glued to eInvite on Twitter, here on Blogger, or at our Facebook page. Lest you miss out on owning a great pen. Remember, there is more to writing than words on paper.
This tends to vary with regard to the style of pen you like to use. The popular types tend to be felt-tipped, ballpoint, and fountain.
- Felt-tipped pens are commonly called "markers" and use a porous material as a membrane between the ink and the paper. The mechanical action is exceptionally simple, but leaving the cap off a felt-tipped pen will usually result in its demise, as the porous material allows air into the ink and will eventually dry out the pen.
- Ballpoint pens apply ink to the page through friction applied to a tiny ball, often made of metal. The ball separates the ink, held in a case, from the elements outside the pen (paper, air, etc). As the ball spins, the ink flows past the ball, coating it in the process, and is applied to paper. This type of pen has a variety of mechanical benefits: they tend to inexpensive, they have great longevity, and many people enjoy the lack of attention required to write. A ballpoint pen will write in just about any direction, as long as gravity continues to feed the ink. Some ballpoint pens are pressurized to remove the gravity feed problem and allow you to write in any direction, even upside-down.
- Fountain pens are, in my opinion, the most luxurious to use, but also the most difficult to use. Ink is fed by capillary action, through pressure applied to the nib (or point) of the pen. The design of fountain pens requires a more fluid ink that does not dry nearly as quickly as that of a ballpoint or even felt-tip pen. There are benefits, however, that the other two cannot reproduce. Greater pressure applied to a fountain pen results in a wider line, allowing for emphasis to easily be added to text, or allowing for beautiful flourishes and ligatures. Modern fountain pens are also easily refillable, making them a far more environmentally friendly choice than the mass-produced, disposable ballpoints.
Oddly enough, pens have features, much like any other device. Grips, clips, tips, and a myriad of other design elements allow your pen to do more than just write. However, I am not a fan of generalism. I think you should excel at what you have been designed to do, rather than try and solve a bunch of problems that I don't have. Plenty of people like mediocre things, but if you're going to spend more than a few dollars on a pen, it should be exceptional. The two parts of this puzzle, in my opinion, are the remaining qualities: "write-ability" and aesthetics.
This term is not a real word, of course, but it does meet the need to describe how a pen really works. After all, a pen is really there to do one thing: write. When taking notes, I rely on a ballpoint pen, as it dries quickly but has an easy flow of ink to the page. It is not nearly as pleasurable as using a fountain pen, but it does the job admirably well (I use a Cross Century). Disposable pens, particularly those made by Bic, also write very well, though due to the sheer volume of manufacture, tend to be a little less reliable than a more expensive version of the same essential design. When you combine a well manufactured ink system with longevity, the only piece remaining is aesthetic.
This is the most difficult quality to quantify and a great deal of it is subjective. When it comes to pens, I like conservative design, where the appointments don't overwhelm the pen. I like a thin body, because I have a tendency to "crush" the pens or pencils that I use (I hold them with too much force). The smaller form forces me to use a lighter touch. Choosing the design of a pen is really up to you, but bear in mind that the size and shape will have a significant impact on how long you can use the pen and how well you can write with it. If you find a gigantic pen with all kinds of doodads and appointments that appeals to your tastes, try to imagine how it would feel to use. Similarly, if you're the utilitarian type, remember that there is more to the pen than how well it writes: rare metal and good manufacture can keep your hand cool and your fingers tireless.
Hopefully this has whet your appetite for more on pens, and writing in general. Leave your experiences and tastes below! We love to hear from you and always try to respond to comments quickly (so return often)!