My Pens

pen-heroI get a lot of questions from readers who want to know what pens I use (probably because I’ve done things like this in the past). So this is a short blog, by request, to explain.

I pulled them out of my bag and took this iPhone pic. As you can see I carry two different types of pens with me — reliable general use retractable pens, and two fountain pens for more serious writing and editing projects.

For general use, and for marking in books, nothing beats Pentel’s EnerGel Deluxe .7mm. I’ve used them for about six years. I started off with the .5mm version, and they were nice, but the bigger point offers a broader ink selection and I grew to like them more and more over time in every way. Mostly I use blue, black, and red, but sometimes the purple and green depending on how many colors I need on a page. You can get an assorted 6-pack of these pens for $12.

For more serious projects, for writing first drafts of some blog posts, for writing notes to others, for personal journal entries, and for making hand edits on my articles and book projects (which are, in the final stages all done by hand on paper), I use fountain pens. My favorite being the Lamy Safari Vista clear, extra-fine point ($24) with ink converter ($7). It’s very wet for an extra-fine nib and writes at what is more accurately classified as a medium point. The pen writes better and better with age (mine is four years old).

On standby is a simple Pilot Metropolitan, medium point ($13) with ink converter ($8).

For ink, I have been very happy with Iroshizuku’s blue-black ($23).

So there you have it. My pens.

And as I explained in my piece “Jack’s Typewriter,” C.S. Lewis makes a good argument for why writers should experiment a few times getting away from the keyboard to write more slowly, on paper, with a good pen.


Related: Here are some good pens for writing in Bibles.

Cry, the Beloved Country

Cry-the-Beloved-CountryMost of my favorite conversations about literature have been with David Powlison, and most of those conversations have been spontaneous, leaving me to scribble down notes on whatever paper was close. But six years ago, in the spring of 2009, over dinner in a restaurant, I wised up, brought a handheld recorder, got his permission to record, and then asked him about the novels that have most shaped his ministry.

As you might expect, he commended Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. But first he commended Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton. Here’s what he said (6-minute audio):