I’m a computer guy, but I grew up in the days when, if you wanted to write something, you sat down in a chair, behind a table, and you took up a pencil, and you started filling in a blank sheet of paper with something that meant something.

I used to love fountain pens. I had a big collection of unassuming branded fountain pens that did the job, but they were messy, and they took a lot of time to maintain.

As you decide you want to write, and write well, pageantry gives way to production, and all the fun I had with nibs, and inkwells, and drying time, was tossed over my shoulder in favor of well-made, but also nameless, ball pens and rollerballs. After the third grade, I gave up pencils altogether!

Here is my current coterie of old, and new, pens that have given me joys as they have taken their lumps.

Starting from left to write: The ABC SPORTS pen was a gift from ABC SPORTS. I wrote to their New York City headquarters from Nebraska in the mid-1970s, and asked them to send me a pen for my pen collection, and they did! I was amazed and shocked! It’s a noname brand ballpoint, but the green ABC logo on the endcap is killer!

Here’s a shot of that cool ABC logo on the top of the cap!

One day, when my grandfather was visiting, he said he heard I’d been writing to ABC SPORTS asking for pens, and he asked me why I never wrote to him. I told him that if he had any cool pens he could send me, I’d write more often.

He pulled out a silvery Parker from his shirt pocket and gave it to me. I looked at it with joy at first, and when I saw it was a pencil, I roared back, “Hey, this isn’t a pen!” He laughed — I was 10-years-old at the time — and told me to keep the pencil.

I didn’t have the heart to tell him I gave up pencils forever two years ago, when I was eight. I thanked him for the gift. My grandfather’s Parker pencil is the second from the left, right next to the infamous ABC SPORTS pen!

Next, we have a couple of ball pens — a Parker and a Waterman — they’re both heavy and, I’ve had them for 30 years.

I now prefer rollerballs to ball pens just because — when I need to write something fast, and time is always of the essence — a rollerball is faster at putting ink down than a ball pen.

The next two pens are modern Pelikan rollerballs. They work best when you post the cap on the end of the pen. Then, the Pelikans are in perfect balance for flight on paper.

Next is my Montblanc rollerball — probably my oldest, and most-used pen — and has been the one pen everyone tries to borrow! I have used it so long, and so much, that the cap no longer really stays on the pen — a common Montblanc problem that isn’t cleanly, or reasonably, fixable. Montblanc doesn’t repair caps out of warranty; they just tell you to “buy a new pen” if the cap won’t stay on any longer.

The final pen is my newest, a Montblanc Meisterstück Classique Ultra Black Rollerball  — “Ultra Black” means the pen has a flat black finish. Love it; and I especially love the blackboard finish. The Ultra Black is my new daily favorite, and my thinnest, and lightest, pen — and it feels like Montblanc fixed their wearing out of the pen-into-cap problem. I wish Montblanc made thicker rollerball ink refills for a bolder filling of the page — like Pelikan does — but, sometimes, mechanisms of beauty overcome forms of function.

One thing I miss about writing with pen and paper is the real feel of the ink sinking into the page. You can’t really create that sense of touch and smell when you write on a computer.

Before my conversion to The Computer Age, I used to write everything in Moleskine notebooks. When I filled one up, I started on another. I soon had a whole self-written library of “Moleskine Books” that held the word product of all my days.

Today, in a return to Moleskine, I find scribbling in them fun again; and the ideas flow even more rapidly now than they did before, and sometimes social situations are more amenable to writing on paper than lugging out a laptop — but then the fear and trembling sets in, as I realize everything I’m writing in my Moleskine book is there, and only there, with no backup!

Should I take an image of the Moleskine pages with my iPhone?

Should I immediately transpose everything I write in ink back into a digital form?

Have I just doubled my writing workload by daring to pick up pen and paper again?

Have I also put my privacy at risk? There no two-factor-authentication for the pages of my Moleskine notebook!

The one thing that kicked me back into the Moleskine realm was a lovely gift from an old theatrical producer friend of mine, celebrating my new Human Meme podcast!

Having my name, and the title of the podcast, printed on a bunch of Moleskine notebooks was a tremendous gift of reminiscence, reflection, and a return to old time gumption. Thank you!


  1. Moleskine notebooks are wonderful, but I find the pages bleed when I write with an ink pen. Ballpoint, rollerball and pencil, though, work well.

    1. Hello, my dear friend! Good to see you, again!

      That’s an excellent point — when you have that hint-to-push-to-write — you don’t want to be waiting for the page to dry before you start your next line!

      I used to love ball pens long ago — but the way I write, they always left behind ink globules on the page. I sort of it liked it, but they never dried and tended to stick the pages together.

      Rollerballs have none of those problems. They just write fast and go! SMILE!

      1. I enjoy writing with fountain pens and have had good luck with Rhodia notebooks. The design is the same as Moleskine, but I don’t get the ink bleed. By the way, I use pens with fine nibs for writing in notebooks. The Rhodia notebooks come in multiple colors as do the Moleskine notebooks and are the same size. See https://rhodiapads.com/collections_premium_rhodiarama.php. Despite my Rhodia recommendation, I still use Moleskine notebooks, but not when I am writing with a fountain pen.

        1. Thanks for the information on Rhodia! I’m not sure I like their logo stamped on the front of my notebook, but I take your point they have value with fountain pens!

          What sort of pens do you have in your collection? Any images available?

          1. if you look around a bit, I think you’ll find some Rhodia notebooks without their logo on the covers. You can also buy them in a wide variety of cover colors.

            With regard to fountain pens, I am partial to Omas which recently went out of business. Mont Blanc and Pelikan are also favorites.I also like Nakaya and Namiki fountain pens. I don’t have any images to share, but if you will go to https://www.nibs.com/, you will find images of those pens.

  2. David,

    I love the look of Moleskine but I have been using Shinola notebooks lately, proudly made in Detroit! They’re reasonably priced 🙂 and I love the variety of colors!

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