Saturday, November 19, 2011

Day Sixteen: TWSBI Diamond 530 with Bad Blue Heron

For day sixteen, I chose another TWSBI, my slightly older Diamond 530 piston filler. The differences between this and the Diamond 540 are slight - but I decided that following the Merlin Perfect was an unfair test for any pen. Therefore, it seemed only fair to give another TWSBI a try. And, just to be perfectly sure that nothing else would spoil my experience with this pen, I chose an ink I already knew would work well, Noodlers Bad Blue Heron.

The principal difference between this and the Diamond 540 is the ink capacity. The Diamond 540 was designed to use different nibs, but as mine was one of the earliest made, it used the last of the nibs made for the Diamond 530. This pen, the Diamond 530, may hold somewhat less ink than the 540, but it will hold enough to get you through at least a few days of writing, even if the words are coming fast and furious.

It works, with no trouble at all, the nib is wet and smooth, and it feels great in the hand. It also looks great, and it is easy enough to see the ink level through the transparent orange barrel. For the price, this is one of the best bargains any writer will find for a good, everyday user. And this is a pen that will be with you for the rest of your life, even if you buy it fresh out of high school and live to be ninety.

In short, with a bit more perspective, I can see that I was too critical of my Diamond 540. I was using it the day after using the single most amazing pen I've ever personally tried, I was still dazzled by that pen, and no other pen would have looked good in comparison. In fact, in that context, anything less than a rabid, bitter rant tearing apart every possible aspect of the pen would have been high praise. And the TWSBI Diamond piston filler series deserves high praise.

I'll go further. If I ever do see the innovation I'd still love to encounter, if pens to equal those that have not been made for decades do ever come along again, TWSBI is one of only two companies I could imagine being responsible. (The other is Noodlers.) Every other existing pen manufacturer whose products I have tried either makes inexpensive but predictable pens, or hugely expensive, pretty pens that really aren't worth nearly what they cost, at least from the perspective of a writer who wants and needs a writing tool more than a "collector's item".

The TWSBI is innovative, inexpensive, and fun to use. If fountain pens have a future beyond fossilizing as pretty but useless decorations, it will be thanks to TWSBI and any other company that follows their example. If I had to recommend one single modern pen to every writer, the TWSBI would be it. And as much as I love vintage pens, if I had to suggest to a writer the one pen they should not be without, it would still be the TWSBI. Once you have a few of these in your toolbox, then go out and explore the world of more exotic pens, the pricey ones, the vintage ones, because you'll have your TWSBIs to fall back on.

As far as Bad Blue Heron is concerned, its a very pretty ink, a subdued but classy slate blue that has become one of my basic choices for writing a manuscript. It is wet, lubricates the nib against the paper beautifully, and if you spill something on the page, you'll still be able to read what you wrote. It is a great pairing for the TWSBI, a good, reliable, choice every writer should have on hand.

I did continue to struggle with pulling the thread of the story back on track, so I wrote only 1,742 words today, for a total so far of 34,284 words. The daily word count is above target, but not spectacularly so, but the overall total still looks good. And first drafts always have their problems; that's why every real writer is so reluctant to allow anyone to look too closely at a first draft. Every one of our stupid mistakes, our lapses in judgment, is there to see, since we haven't had a chance to polish them out yet.

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