A rear-wheel drive… fountain pen!

Definitely, always and in any situation, it is man that makes the difference.
However, many times, in order to make that difference, one needs the proper practicing tools.
As, for instance (and for this magazine’s… sake) rear-wheel drive will always be the greatest of schools, for those who want to learn the art of sport driving.
In “my universe” it is unthinkable to call captain, one who has no experience in sail-boats (like the ones where you hang out with your… arse in the water).
It is unthinkable to be called a singer, without having classical vocal training along a piano.
It is unthinkable to be an outdoorsman, of any kind, and know nothing about orientation with a “plain” compass (I would suggest that he should be able to make one all by himself).
And somehow, in a similar manner, it is unthinkable to me, to be taught writing without a fountain pen!

In a parallelism, for those who can’t understand, it is unthinkable to me having a keyboard in front of you, and still hunt down words with two fingers, instead of “blind typewriting” with all ten.

And I repeat, all this, in “my universe”…

So I suggest (and that is the main theme of my letter to you) that along with the fountain pen that you grant as reward (an excellent idea on your part!) that you hand out an “instructions manual” for each fortunate winner, about how he can size the most, out of this magnificent “tool”!

On my part, although I am not an expert on this matter (but an “all-time” fountain pen user) I would like to point out, just a few, basic principles of fountain pen writing.
1. A fountain pen is a strictly personal object.
With its use, it shapes into the owners personal handwriting, and you should never “lend” it, not even for a single signature, or else, its tip will be destroyed!
2. A fountain pen pays back in a unique way your clumsiness.
Once your writing is over, you must immediately return it to its “holder” or else the ink dries out in the tips furrow. That is, if you are lucky, and have not already stain everything (and I mean everything) with ink first!
3. The main idea that wants a fountain pen to be the ultimate tool for calligraphy (or at least to improve your writing above a… reporter’s notebook) is divided into two parts:
a. We learn not to press hard the tip on the paper, accumulating the correct “space” between them (besides, press hard, and the fountain pen will… spit)
b. We learn not to hold it too tight, accumulating the correct “speed” in writing.

Now, real finesse comes with the correct combination of the above that will lead, gradually, to calligraphy!

The academic question, of why not learn writing directly on the (many times faster) keyboard, does not exist.
Because like in go-kart racing (where speeds are ridiculous) fast drivers are being born, in a similar fashion, penmanship “lays out your thoughts” better while putting them on a piece of paper!

All the above belong to “my universe” as I said, that so many times did meet the universe of “4Wheels” magazine in the last… 25+ years (and allow me here to say: Step on it! Mr. Cavathas)

Mario-Günter Frastas

April 1, 2006

(This text won first prize as “letter of the month” at the “4Wheels” car magazine (issue 426, March 2006) winning a (wonderful) Mount Blank fountain pen courtesy of Tzannes S.A.)