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What Does Your Writing Implement Say About You?

Pens, wonderful pens, are still making a statement in this age of the Internet and the iPhone. Inspired by the CEO and president of Montblanc, we investigate possible pen-types, and what those pens might declare about their owners.

You may not be aware of it, given that you spend all day typing on a keyboard or pecking away at your favorite emojis on your iPhone—and when you do try to pick up pen and put it to paper, the scrawl that emerges is like that of a psycho killer, or maybe a very important medical professional—but the rise of the status pen is upon us. As Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan writes in the Wall Street Journal, "In an age dominated by tech gadgets such as cellphones, a pen can still make a potent statement."

In fact, yes, Jan-Patrick Schmitz, the president and CEO of none other than Montblanc North America, one of the snazziest pen-makers of all, tells Lu-Lien Tan that your pen says a lot about your personal style. A pen is just like a tie, or a watch, or the car you drive, or your murse/purse. Thus, "Mr. Schmitz always carries at least two pens with him during his workday: one tucked in his briefcase's pen holder and the other in an inside jacket pocket." One is a functional roller-ball, the other a fountain pen, "which he reserves for moments when he wants to take time to express something."

Schmitz is a pen guy, so as you'd expect, he has more than 100 pens in his personal collection. He likes the colorful ones, in "eye-catching but elegant designs," and will choose a color that matches his mood. He doesn't like black ink, preferring different colors for different moments. And, of course, functionality of the pen is key, too—it can't just be about looks. Sometimes, he even uses a pen with scented ink; usually, vanilla.

This is all very interesting. I have wondered for a while if we're in the age of the death of the pen, and how pen sales will keep up with diminishing demand. I keep a few around my desk, but they're mostly purely functional, and are only used when needed, which is rare, for the scribbling of a few words or the signing of a check (also a malingering item, in my view). Often when I go to use one, I find the ink is gone, and I must sadly throw it away, saying goodbye to it like it were an old friend I'd ignored for years. But in long-ago days, like when I was in high school, the pen had a different role in my life. I purchased the ones I liked the best in all colors, and could not wait to use them. Sometimes I would be gifted with a "statement" pen, topped with pink feathers or studded with rhinestones or filled with candy or shaped like animals. Those pens have been long forgotten—until today. The statement pen! Schmitz is right. We should all have a statement pen. It makes writing better. Because every so often, you will need a pen. Perhaps what will save the business of pen-making is if pens truly do become art, or, at the very least, an accessory loved as much as your new handbag.

So, what might your statement pen say about you?

A crusty old plastic ballpoint you found in the office supply closet that's really a computer tech room. You are all about getting it done, and you're doing it one day at a time. Also, you are likely to hold the pen in your fist, having forgotten how to use a pen, so often are you instead typing on the computer. Pens! What strange creations are these. Wiggle your fist a bit, press the tip of the pen to paper, and a line emerges. You have just discovered fire.

An adorable child's pen. Say, Hello Kitty, with a stamp at the top, or maybe Hello Kitty herself? Not that Hello Kitty is just for kids, nosirreebob. You are a creative spirit full of whimsy and must not be crushed by the judgments and small minds of others. You love sticker books, ice cream, and watching Nickelodeon. And collecting Hello Kitty stuff, obviously.

A roller-ball pen. Ah, remember when these were all the rage? So much better than a ballpoint, so much easier to maneuver, a veritable Jaguar instead of an old jalopy on the page. The only trouble with the roller-ball is that when you leave it uncapped and lean on it during the day the ink soaks into the sleeve of your shirt, or the skin of your arm, and you're covered in pen juice, and that can be embarrassing. You have aspirations, and if you have a gel roller-ball pen, those aspirations may lie in the fields of math and science.

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Jen Doll is a former staff writer for The Wire. She is the author of Save the Date: The Occasional Mortifications of a Serial Wedding Guest.

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