Click bait

Pens attract me like a white shirt attracts coffee. I love the click, that satisfying sound the pen emits when you press the button to make the tip of the ink cartridge drop out of the barrel. I cock my head, right ear tilted upward, eyes to heaven, finger poised on the clicker waiting

I don’t want a sleek button, silent as a cat burglar, good for taking notes surreptitiously in meetings but not so good for making a point. The click announces “I’m ready.” It’s the revving engine. The horse race bugle. The crack of the gun at the starting blocks in the 4 x 100 relay. Go!


A few of my favourite pens

Slightly better than the click is the flow of ink from a fountain pen. My fountain pen needs a little shake to get it started, kind of like me. Sometimes it scratches the paper – another satisfying sound that puts me in a candlelit room with a coal burning fire behind an iron grate, my head cradled in one hand as I carve words into the paper with a reluctant nib. At last the pen glides over the paper, the nib racing, barely touching. Smooth. Thoughts and pen come together.

Writing with a fountain pen slows me down because I want to shape pretty letters as much as I want to write worthy sentences. I like the visual connection with the physical act of writing. When I write with a fountain pen it almost feels like painting words.

I notice when I write in cursive that not all my letters connect. I print some letters and use cursive for others, especially “t’s”. I try to remember the penmanship lessons learned when I was eight years old, making sure each letter has a runway leading into the letter and that the tail ends close the loops. When I write with a fountain pen I have to make big enough loops so when the ink bleeds, the l’s don’t look like i’s. My writing expands with a fountain pen.

Broken letters are like my incomplete poems and stories, compositions interrupted by daily necessities like work and listening to my daughter’s concerns over co-op applications or job hunting or exams. How the ramps on the first letter of my first word is a deep breath, a running start and if I keep my pen down and don’t let go, maybe something will get done, that even if the letters aren’t joined, the sentence will be clear. If I slow down, everything will come together.


“Anchor”, a Rose and Derrick story, a spin-off from the Lady Smock and Harry Bittercress stories posted on Wuthering Bites, is in this Canadian literary journal.


31 thoughts on “Click bait

  1. I am late to the party so I won’t hold you all up …. except to thank you Susanne for your lovely eulogy to the pen without which instruments my life would lack luster it truly would.

  2. Congrats on the publication! I adore pens. I admit to an unhealthy love of Sharpies and of disposable mechanical pencils. Horrible for the environment in every way so I’m glad that I don’t actually do much writing by hand anymore. But I recently moved my office and came upon my beloved old Mont Blanc and the bottle of ink (yeah, in a particularly fussy period I disdained cartridges) and wondered if I oughtn’t try to use it again.

    • Oh my gosh, Michelle, a Mont Blanc pen? So very elegant and terribly hard core using ink in a bottle. I’m picturing Lady Mary at her writing desk in Downton Abbey.

  3. Hi Susanne, congratulations on the publication. And fountain pens! You brought back memories of school days! Honestly, I have not used one in years. Your whole post is like poetry. Wonderful!

    • The only drawback of the fountain pen is the ink stains on your fingers but I think they look kind of charmingly retro and like you’ve been working hard. Thanks so much for your kind words, Shubha.

  4. Congratulations on the published story. Woohoo! Forget the impostor syndrome and show your happy dance!

    Pens, pencils, crayons, markers … I love them all. Fat tips, thin tips, a multitude of colours … I have enough writing devices to see me through the end of days.
    … but my favourites always have the tension of the spring followed by that satisfying *click*. You’re so right … “It’s the revving engine. The horse race bugle. The crack of the gun at the starting blocks”.

    • We were in Toronto 2 weeks ago and my daughter want to shop on Bloor West – I think its called Koreatown – and we discovered a whole new world of pens. I got the cutest one for 1.99 and it has a tiny ball on the side that serves as the clicker. Such a small thing to make me deliriously happy. You should go!

  5. Great wisdom in what you say. Connecting letters connects words and sentences. I used to be so happy and proud of my speedy typing skills but I wonder if it is for the better. Even though in this way I sometimes type ahead of my thoughts…

    • Its hard to write ahead of your thoughts which is one of the reasons I like penning a first draft instead of typing. I find when I type I have to do a lot more editing as I tend to get verbose. The keyboard makes it easy to run on, at least for me.

    • Thank you, Maggie. I feel both happy and weird about the publication and I need to mull over why the weird feeling. I write stuff here all the time and don’t have mixed feelings about it at all, but there’s something kind of daunting about being included among a group of writers. Maybe its that old impostor syndrome thing again.

      • Yeah, I’d go with the impostor syndrome thing. From what I know about writers and symptoms of being a writer, or other creatives for that matter, is that writer’s block and impostor syndrome are hallmarks. It’s a big deal, right? I mean, isn’t the AR one of “the” names in literary mags? Is this your first time being published? If so, I have my answer. This IS a big deal!

        • The Antigonish Review (TAR) is one of Canada’s oldest lit magazines and I’m a subscriber so I know the quality of the work they publish. It’s daunting!

    • I could have gone on quite a bit more about pens but I recognized not everyone feels the same. I love the whole sensory experience of writing by hand including the feel of the paper and even the smell of different kinds of paper and ink. I’m pretty chuffed about the publication, too!

  6. I appreciate beautiful penmanship but for myself, whose writing resembles chicken scratchings, the invention of the keyboard has been a splendid thing. Very cool to be published in that journal.

    • Thanks, Lisa. I’m excited about the publication, too. I’m very glad the keyboard was invented, too, for my husband’s sake. His penmanship is terrible and he was an English teacher. I don’t know how his students deciphered his scrawled edits and comments!

  7. While I visit your blog with no claims to belong to the guild of writers I too love pens. My much loved fountain pen (full and plump in my hand, dark green swirls over a black background, rimmed with gold and sporting a stout gold nib. A pen of substance and gravitas) went awol a couple or more years ago and since then a variety of different pens have been trialed without success. I am awaiting delivery of the latest one to catch my fancy. I have this persistent belief that I can’t write lovely notes to folk unless I can do so with a pen that feels right in my hand. Of course I belong to a family of women who all have some degree or other of pen fetish – and not one of us a writerly type – though the eldest makes her living as a book rep and has been a passionate reader since the age of seven when she ‘got’ what all the squiggles on paper meant and fell into an exciting world head first. 🙂 On a different note have you taken delivery of a catcher yet? It was sent about two weeks ago and this is always the point when I start to fret, even though I know the Canadian post tends to be just a tad slower ……..

    • Hi Pauline, I haven`t received the light catcher yet but I`m watching for it and checking the mail every day. We have one of those community mailboxes as opposed to door to door delivery. Canada Post sets the snail mail standard for sure and in fact I suspect snails could deliver faster. I`ll let you know by email the moment it arrives and send a picture of it in situ.

      There`s so much one could say about a good pen including the feel of it in your hand and between your fingers. I`m glad you pointed that out! You may not think you`re a writer but you write the most wonderful comments, full of insight and kindness and I look forward to them. I am always stumped for what to say on folks` posts which is a terrible confession coming from a writer. Maybe if I penned them instead of typing it would be easier.

      • Well, that was a lovely response to my comment Susanne, and I thank you for it 🙂 I tend to treat the comments section as if the post I have just read came especially for me, so my response usually comes in that common feminine form of sharing whatever the post has prompted me to share – just as if we were having a chat over a cup of coffee somewhere…… It’s not always appropriate of course 😀 I find three word comments quite hard to respond to. I know sending stuff to Canada often takes a week longer – once it took almost 4 weeks – so I should just chill out and let the postal service continue rowing across the Pacific or bunny hopping across the Canadian countryside at their own rate. I wonder if technology will ever allow us to write with our pen of choice in our own handwriting…….

          • I’ve just seen your comment on my post and it is an excellent one! I love having the opportunity to expand and/or deepen an aspect of a post, getting to know someone a little better – moving past the superficial I guess. Glad to have brought you over to the chatty side – you realise you will probably spend lots longer making and responding to comments now don’t you 🙂

  8. Great post for writery types. I’m a fan of pens, period. I have favorites of course, and I choose the pen for the writing like I choose accessories for dress.
    Not a fan of too much clicking, but I’ll agree, the initial click is a bit of a starting pistol. Empowering.

"The river flows both ways." (Margaret Laurence)

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