Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Day Twenty: Hero 001 with Noodlers #41 Brown

For day twenty, I chose an unusual pen, a Chinese Hero 001, which features the "360" nib. This is a nib that is supposed to be able to write through three hundred and sixty degrees, like a ballpoint. To fill it up, I chose Noodlers #41 Brown (although I'm using the original formulation, no longer available). This ink was developed to commemorate Scott Brown's victory in a historic Senatorial race in Massachusetts, to fill Ted Kennedy's vacant seat. Without commenting on my or anyone else's politics, Scott Brown lives just one town away, and attends the same church I do, so this ink was especially interesting to me.

The Hero 001 is another absurdly inexpensive pen. This one is lightweight, with a body made of anodised aluminum. It is attractive, in a very modern style. The squeeze filler was anemic, although it did hold enough ink to last for the entire session. I can't help noting that while almost every Chinese pen I've tried is otherwise surprisingly good, the filler mechanisms are uniformly shoddy.

The nib is interesting, although it doesn't quite live up to its promise. It is a "double sided" nib, with tipping material in a ball on the end of the nib, and several slits cut into the nib. I imagine it is meant to be an inexpensive answer to the Sailor Trident nib which is no longer made. It is not, however, a true all angle nib. The nib itself is flat, and while it writes well even when held vertically, if you rotate the nib outside one of the two planes of the nib, it will not write.

The nib is also somewhat scratchier than a regular fountain pen nib. It isn't unpleasant to use, and is a nice alternative for jotting quick notes, or for carrying as a loaner pen for people who aren't used to fountain pens. Although anyone who doesn't know enough to try writing with the nib lined up with the paper will have trouble, since the nib will not write at all on its side. This isn't one of my favourite pens, but it is nice to have one or two around.

And, as I noted, every writer could use at least one to jot notes, in situations where a more 'forgiving' nib might be an advantage. If an idea strikes you, say, while you're in a moving vehicle, this pen is a bit easier to scrawl a fast note with. If you carry one for that purpose, it can also serve as a backup pen in case the pen you meant to write with runs out of ink prematurely.

As an ink, #41 Brown is a nice, dark brown. It appears somewhat lighter coming out of this pen (as all fountain pen users know, an ink may look completely different when used in two different pens), but is a favourite of mine because in some pens, it comes out as the kind of dark brown you see in a cat's fur when they appear black except in direct sunlight, when you see that their fur is really a rich, dark brown. I am not sure if this is true of the reformulation, which from the reviews I've seen is a slightly different shade.

It flows well, and is a nice, wet ink that lubricates any nib nicely. In this nib, which tends to be a bit scratchier, it reduced that issue substantially. I find it an excellent choice for writing manuscripts, and you could easily mark up such a manuscript with almost anything other than another brown or a black. No matter what your politics, this is an ink every writer should have. (The name is an "in-joke" whose significance is obscure enough that you won't seem to be endorsing anything unless you choose to make a point of doing so.)

On day twenty, I wrote 2,472 words, bringing my total so far up to 43,942 words. I am well ahead of where I need to be, and although I'd like to get as far as I can on this novel during November (few novels are as short as 50,000 words, so once I 'finish', I'll still have more to write), I'm no longer very worried about failing to complete that goal. It would take a real catastrophe to prevent me from doing so now.

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