(Epic fail at doodling a recognizable fountain pen...but that's a subject for another day...)
This post is partially inspired by a question in a recent letter from Justin: no doubt bemused by the too-many pens I brought to the type-in, he asked which I preferred, fountain pens or typewriters. My answer to that question, I'll leave to the response letter (Cliff Notes version: it depends), but it led me to ponder a related question: what if you had to choose?
Imagine one day you were told that you had to pick a single writing technology, whether it be pencils, typewriters, fountain pens, ballpoints, Alphasmarts, computers, stylus on clay tablets, sky writing, or what-have-you. (In this fantasy world, this particular choice doesn't affect what we use at work, and we'd still have the Internets and all--this would just be what you'd use for first drafts, or bulk writing of whatever you tend to write: poems, letters, short stories, novels, essays, whatever. In other words, the device you use first to get ideas out of your head and into the world.)
Hopefully I won't be disowned by the typosphere and pencil comrades alike for admitting it...but I think if someone held a proverbial gun to my head (drat those proverbial guns!) and I *had* to choose, I'd go with fountain pens. Yes, they're slower than anything with a keyboard and fussier by far than a pencil, but I like the way I think with one in my hand, and the look of wet ink on a page, and the feel of a good nib on good paper. I like their easy portability and quiet nature (I'm still not one who's going to pull out a typewriter at work or a coffee house). I like the way they make me slow down and consider what I'm composing and yet let me cross out and continue without breaking stride. I like the immediacy and directness of hand-on-pen-on-paper: much as I like typewriters, there are some times when they make me feel as though I'm trying to do delicate work with heavy gloves on--as though there's a barrier in the way.
What about you? If push came to shove, would you cling to typewriterly clickity-clack? Pen or pencil and paper? Become a die-hard Alphasmartian? Or would you reluctantly set aside all the more tangible tools and retreat to the speed and convenience of a computer? Or, to throw another option out there, would you choose something wordless, like a camera? What would you pick, and why?
All that said...I'm really glad I don't have to choose!