I wrote the first draft of this entry in pen--specifically, a Cross Townsend Medalist Chrome with a .7mm gel rolling ball tip. I've been using this pen as my every-day writing tool for more than ten years. I write with it in my journal all day long. I also write my drafts of poems and other writing with this pen.
It fits my hand. That is to say, I enjoy using it. I like the heft, and I like the way the ink flows--particularly with fine-tipped gel ink, which glides smoothly across the page and doesn't blot the letters together. My only complaint is that one ink cartridge doesn't last very long, so I always make sure I have multiple spares.
Even though every poem eventually ends up there, I don't often begin writing with a computer. Poetry isn't a race. I need time to think. I need space to write in the margins of my initial thinking and to line through things, all of which lets me see through the current version into what I've been thinking along the way.
Early on, I decided I didn't like writing on bright white paper. And I discovered an engineering notebook that had legal-pad-yellow pages with grids instead of lines, as if for designing a widget, to scale. When those were harder to find, I turned to a gridded Moleskine (the 5 x 8 1/2 hard-cover version). I think the grid encourages me to think of my writing as construction, something built rather than strung together.
And if I'm going to go to all that trouble, I want to have tools that will allow me to more fully enjoy the process. This pen does that.
Over the years, I've dented the cap, and I've bent the clip so that it's useless. But I have no intention of replacing it. I've owned two Mont Blancs, but I've lost them both (I suspect they were an attractive nuisance, and others are enjoying them now). And even though it's a presidential souvenir pen (the kind he hands out after signing bills), the Cross is not nearly as expensive as a Mont Blanc. Yet it is still distinctive and expensive enough that I'm motivated to keep track of it.
But if I should lose it or damage it beyond use, I know where to find another one just like it.