Me and My Montblanc
This is the very short story of a man and his pen.
Around 1988, when I went to college to study philosophy, my forward-thinking uncle, Deal Waters, and my aunt, Laverne, knew that I wanted to become a writer and bought me a beautiful pen to encourage me. The pen was (and still is) a Montblanc 4810 Meisterstück (German for “masterpiece”) fountain pen. It is one of my most prized possessions.
Using this pen (and pencils), I have written first drafts of all of my novels and story collections. Counting ones that haven’t been published, that makes around a dozen works. I have also written the first drafts of countless speeches, video scripts, essays and articles with my Montblanc. Not to mention nearly 20 years of journal entries.
In all, I’ve probably written a million words with my Montblanc alone.
Therefore, you can imagine my sadness when, the other day, my Montblanc broke. After 25 years of faithful service, it finally gave in: the screw that connects the two reservoir enclosures snapped off. I was heartbroken.
At that moment I realized why it—a mere physical object—meant so much to me: because in buying me the pen, my Uncle Deal and Aunt Laverne were supporting me in my desire to become a writer before anyone else. I mean before anyone. Before I had published a single book, story, magazine article or news piece. Before my first and only true mentor, Thomas Gallagher, learned of my desire to write. In fact, I can’t remember a single thing I had written at that time, except for a number of short stories that only my grandfather had read.
My Uncle Deal was the quintessential Southern gentleman. Real class. He graduated from the old and prestigious William and Mary in Williamsburg, and I remember him as having wonderful manners. My Aunt Laverne was a sharp and determined woman, and I always admired her confidence. They died before I published the Dakota novels or my other recent efforts, but I like to think that they somehow know about my books.
And how their gift of the Montblanc inspired me more than they could have ever possibly imagined.
Below: Montblanc’s trip to the pen hospital on Madison Avenue in Manhattan: