Contemporary Inspirational

I can safely assume that the vast majority of people who post on this site write using a computer. Typing out their ideas, diatribes, memories, or whatever they choose. Of course, you’re using a simple keystroke. It is efficient, fast, and forgiving because if you make a mistake it can readily be fixed with a backspace or delete key. It helps us get the information out of our heads and into the minds of others across the world in an instant. A lot of times people talk about the good old days where everything was simpler, more relaxed, and I dare say more refined. However, when it comes to the written word, this really isn't the case.

Take, for instance, using an ink pen to write out your ideas. You need a pen, paper, a desk, and the ability to scroll somewhat legible script to get out your thoughts. It is very tactile and can, at times, be cumbersome as compared to the simplicity of tapping keys on a keyboard to clearly state what you want to say. However, there is a real disconnect between typing blindly, and actually using your hands and eyes to write out your important feelings, opinions, or ideals. There is something to be said for going old school and using a pen and paper to write. It is far more tactile, far more involved, and charges you with being much more focused than just simply typing on a screen.

I’ll give you an example. I write my work using a blue pen. It isn’t a pen that I bought at a store. It isn’t a BIC, Monte Blanc, or any other one you can buy. It is a pen that I made. It is made from wood from a fallen tree from the Amazon rain forest (no joke, it’s real). I turned it on a lathe that my Grandfather owned. I started with a piece of wood, cut it out of a log, shaped it, then proceeded to turn it on the lathe. My Grandpa taught me woodworking at an early age and I loved it. It is great to create something from what many would consider nothing. I used a big machine, some sharpened tools, and a lot of time to get the pen spun down to a showroom finish. It is smooth, you can see the intricacies of the grain, and it impresses anyone who sees it. I am proud to say that it is my creation. I made the tool that I use to write my work. I signed my marriage certificate with it, signed all of my legal documents, job certifications, and anything important in my life was signed by the pen I made. 

The problem these days is that there is a disconnect for people when it comes to their daily lives and routines. Everyone wants something to be easy and to get done quickly. This creates an ambiguously cold culture where you don’t really know where the main parts of your life come from. I spent many hours crafting that pen. I learned new techniques, learned from failures along the way, and learned that what is most important to you is earned and not found on the shelf of some store. When I use that pen it is an extension of me. Nobody else has one like it, and nobody ever will. When I pull it out to sign something, or just to write down my story ideas it makes me feel good knowing that it is special; and, in turn, it makes me special.

It was a long time ago when people used bird quills as fountain pens. I am sure that most of the Queen’s and colonial documents were written using such feathers. I suppose I took it a bit further making my own wooden pen. There’s something to be said for making a unique piece of history for yourself. Yes, nobody may ever use it, or even see it, but the fact of the matter is that you know it exists and you know it is special. It’s funny how we gloss over the past achievements and replace them with modern-day advances in technology. If it is easier, then it is better in this case. This may be true in the technical sense, but what happens to the matters of the heart? Holding a piece of history is something special, and should be recognized as such.

My Grandfather taught me an art that is pretty much all but lost these days. Yes, it is a lot of work to produce a pen from a block of wood. I can just go to the store and get one for next to nothing. But where is the soul in that? Where is the appreciation for the craft and the meaningful work that is done using such an item? I must say, that when I pull out my hand-crafted pen, made from a tree that was a few hundred years old lying in the rainforest, I feel a certain power. Nobody who takes out a plastic pen feels anything like that in their hearts. It’s just a utilitarian pen: a means to an end. Why is it that old technology seems to be antiquated in a negative sense? Yes, it’s old; however, it still holds value beyond what most people perceive. 

I learned a skill that has been overtaken by new technology. It may take me a day to carve a pen in order to sign a document instead of just going to the store and buying a pen in a few minutes. However, the pen, that I learned how to make by myself, holds a huge amount of power as compared to its plastic counterparts. Yes, it may not be for everyone; it takes time, tools, and expertise, but at the end of the day it holds your feelings. May I suggest that you hold onto the past just a little bit: you never know where it may take you.

January 26, 2021 15:16

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William Flautt
15:53 Feb 02, 2021

I recently cleaned and refilled my fountain pens. The medium definitely shapes the message. I liked the way you expressed yourself. I'm curious how you acquired this Amazon wood!


Eric Deitch
18:55 Feb 02, 2021

Hi William. Thanks for the comment. I do believe that when you have something of intrinsic value using it means a lot more than something that is just a throw-away, or plug-and-play. As a writer, it always makes me feel special when I hold one of my pens in my hand; being on par with an expensive watch or nice clothes. It is definitely an extension of myself. As for the origin of the wood, my Grandfather had it shipped in from the Amazon about three decades ago, well before the forests were getting decimated like it has been recently. I lik...


William Flautt
19:03 Feb 02, 2021

So cool. Thanks for sharing, Eric!


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