As the long-running readers of this blog will know, when I finished the first draft of my first novel five and a half years ago (to be honest, it feels more like a decade), I bought a celebratory fountain pen.
Possessing moderate quantities of that desirable intangible, self-control, I resisted the urge to repeat the procedure every time I finished a draft. But self-control is none the worse for having the occasional treat, so once I was within hailing distance of getting The Wound of Words off my hands (not just the first draft but the whole thing, published and all), I ordered another celebratory pen. (Just a tiny one…)
What with one thing and another (actually, mostly with That One Thing and the flow-on effects of That One Thing), by the time the celebratory pen arrived, I had not only published the ebook, ordered the paperback proof copy, received it, and approved it for distribution, I had also ordered more copies to sell in person, ordered cards with the cover image and my url (always convenient for those times when someone who has just heard you’re an author asks if you’ve written anything they might have heard of), received the cards, and received the carton of paperbacks.
So The Wound of Words is well and truly published, and I am well and truly going to celebrate. With a Moonman Wancai.
Ain’t it purty? I am surprised to find myself drawn to clear demonstrator model fountain pens, instead of something all old and beautiful, but it turns out that when it comes to a tool of the trade, I mostly just want it to work and not be hijjus. The Moonman Wancai is a definite winner on both counts. And despite what everyone says in their reviews, it is actually possible to use this dinky pen without the cap posted (i.e. screwed onto the end of the barrel, as shown). You just need to have rather small hands. Like mine. (The pen is just over 8cm uncapped, and my hands are 17cm long and span 20.)
The only tricky bit is filling the pen, and this is confusing for one reason and fiddly for two. The confusion arises from the high degree of resemblance between the cap and the barrel, once the nib section has been unscrewed from the latter. Into one you wish to pour ink, into the other you do not wish to pour ink. Grab the one which has screw threads at the closed end and fill that, is my advice.
Then there’s the fiddlinesses. In the first place, as you can see in the image above, the end of the pen is curved. So you can’t stand the barrel on end to fill, you have to hold it in one hand and hold the eyedropper with the other hand. (The ink bottle goes on a flat surface, or in your other other hand, if you are fortunate enough to be a multi-armed freak of radioactive nature.) The second fiddly bit is that the bulb bit on the eyedropper isn’t that big, and when little air is expelled, little ink can be sucked in. (Physics!) So it took a few goes to fill the actually pretty giant ink tank (though this may have been affected by the low level of ink in the bottle – I’m not physicksy enough to know).
But once you’ve filled it, all you do is screw the bit with the nib back into ye giant ink receptacle, turn it nib end down (fountain pens like gravity – not suitable for use in space) and start writing. My one wrote from the second the nib touched the paper – no dryness, no delays, no annoying scritchy-scritchy as you try to get the ink to come out. Right down to business, just like a bought one.
All the more impressive, it seems to me, as the nib is a very fine one – an EF, to be precise. Or at least, I’m pretty sure it is. The order was for an EF, but many say that the Wancai only exists in F nib form. Even the package itself says it’s an F. The nib itself remains silent on the subject, saying only “MOONMAN SUPER QUALITY.E” in the sort of micro print you need to fit that much text on a nib alongside some decorative scrolling and a Chinese character or two (which I am unable to read – all I know is, it doesn’t say China and it doesn’t say person either). No matter. It’s thinner than the F nib on the TWSBI Mini, which is good enough for me.
I have filled it with Diamine Majestic Purple, which is the ink I used for the first draft of what is now Restoration Day. And on that pleasingly circular note, I shall leave you. It’s time to celebrate!