Monday, May 29, 2006

Handwritten Theatre

Like most of my writing these days, this blog entry was originally composed with pen, paper and ink. It may seem a bit quaint, old-fashioned even, but it works for me.

Apparently I’m not alone in my belief that writing should begin with, well, writing. Recently, while doing research for a project I’m working on, I came across a website promoting a podcast called “Handwritten Theatre” -- a “series of short dramatic pieces originally composed in a small black notebook, with a fountain pen.”

Handwritten Theatre and its accompanying website are the brainchildren of Joseph Dougherty, a talented writer whose work on the groundbreaking television series thirtysomething earned him an Emmy. He has also written and produced several movies, including The Attack of the Fifty-Foot Woman, starring Darryl Hannah. Among Mr. Dougherty’s most recent work is the novel Comfort and Joi, available at

"How cool," I thought. Despite all the high-tech, wiz-bang gadgetry that’s out there these days, here was someone who put pen to paper and let the words literally flow onto the page. And not a fountain pen collector, either, but an ordinary human being, using a pen as it was intended.

Intrigued, I downloaded the first episode of Handwritten Theatre, “What Do You Want Me to Tell You?” The format was compelling. A brief introduction by the author, then a dialogue between two characters, followed by a few more words from the author. No more than 12 minutes overall. I lack the expertise to critique either the writing or acting, but I will say this: I have now listened to each of the nine episodes that have so far been published on the web, and I eagerly await the next installment. Draw your own conclusions.

By the way, if anyone’s interested: This entry was originally composed using a Visconti Van Gogh Midi fountain pen, with a fine nib and filled with Private Reserve Lake Placid Blue ink. If you haven't checked out one of these pens, I highly recommend them.

Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, May 19, 2006


Since this is the first post to the Pear Tree Company's blog, I figured I'd explain a little about the company and what I'd like to accomplish by posting here.

The Pear Tree Pen Company is an online retailer of writing instruments and accessories. Writing instruments is just another way of saying things that write, like pens and pencils. While I sell a wide variety of pens, including ball point and rollerballs, the emphasis, and expertise, is fountain pens. My website is located at

I started the Pear Tree Pen Company in January 2006 because I love fountain pens and wanted to share my knowledge and experience with others. (Sure, it's a bit geeky, but who doesn't have their geeky side?) While many pen stores try to sell you on how "luxurious" or "prestigious" it is to have a fine pen, I believe that approach is fundamentally flawed. In my book, pens are tools, plain and simple. And while it may be really nice to have a gold hammer, odds are it doesn't drive a nail any better than the one you can buy at your local hardware store.

To be sure, some hammers may do their job better than others, and so it is with fountain pens. But more "bling" doesn't necessarily make the ink flow any better or the writing experience any more enjoyable. What's important is getting the right pen for you and what you want to do with it. Do you need a pen to sign correspondence and want a big, bold and dramatic signature? Do you need a pen so you can take notes all day? Do you prefer large pens, small pens, or something in between?

At the Pear Tree Pen Company, I strive to create a place where you can feel free to ask questions and, hopefully, get a pen that fits you, your needs, and your lifestyle -- not some marketing company's idea of what's luxurious or prestigious. And, while some of the pens I sell are, indeed, beautiful (and undoubtedly expensive), they're more than fancy "pocket jewelry." They're genuinely good writers. If they also happen to look good and increase your stock among friends and colleagues, well, I guess that's OK, too.

On the other hand, some of the pens I sell may not have the cachet, or the price tag, of some of the more well-known "executive" pens, but neither will they let you down when you need your pen to perform most. Because sometimes, you just need a pen that writes, right?

In the days and months ahead, this blog will feature some of my musings on fountain pens, inks, and papers. There will also be a generous smattering of tidbits about people who use fountain pens and why, with a small helping of some tangentially related items, like the Pear Tree Pen Company's sponsorship of Ryan Levinson, a professional athlete who competes (and wins) in triathlons despite being challenged by a form of muscular dystrophy known as FSH (Facio-Scapular-Humeral) Muscular Dystrophy. To learn more about Ryan and to read his complete race reports, visit his website at

I'm looking forward to this, and I hope you'll come back and visit again.

Thanks for stopping by.

James Partridge