The Magic Of The Pen

blog, communication, history, journal, Lloyd Osler, pen, writing -

The Magic Of The Pen

Long before the first commercial typewriter (1878), and now computer, tablets and smart phones, mankind discovered one of the most profound tools of all time. No it’s not fire or the wheel.  It’s the writing instrument.  From the early cave drawings to the nineteenth century, the history of humankind was recorded with some form of writing instrument.  Where would we be without it?  Writing, much like reading, was considered a measure of the “educated”.  Even as late as the mid to late 1900’s, penmanship was still taught in schools and was seen as a valuable asset. A means to communicate thoughts, ideas, even love.

The writing tool still prevails today and one would hope, never disappears, and with it the art of cursive writing.  However in many school jurisdictions, cursive writing has been dropped from the curriculum.  A sad testament to the value seen in something that is uniquely human.  After all, humankind is the only species on the planet that can write.  

As a writer, I have my computer, tablet and smart phone.  Occasionally I will sit down and write a small piece on one of these devices, but when I am involved in writing a novel, or any other substantial work, I use a pen on the first daft, but not just any pen.  It’s a favourite, cherished fountain pen.  And I’m not the only writer that uses a pen.  I was delighted to discover that one of my admired writers, author John le Carre also writes his first draft with pen in hand.

Many years ago I had the privilege to meet and spend some time with the author Ray Bradbury.  He was in town to give a keynote address to an international organization of which I was a member.  The local drama theatre was also showing, as part of the week long event, the stage play adapted from Ray’s novel, “Something Wicked This Way Comes.”  As the Branch Sales Manager, I represented my company, the sponsor for the theatre production.  I will never forget Ray’s words of wisdom, “Don’t think. Do”.  In other words, create first, then improve on it.  In the context of creative writing, utilizing my pen certainly rings true to Ray’s advice.  I find that when using a pen to write, I feel uniquely connected to my thoughts.  I’m not tempted to edit as I write, I’m more creative.

It’s not so much the form of letters as they flow from the tip of the pen, but rather the very magic of seeing one’s thoughts and emotions flow from our minds into ink on paper that we can read again and again.

How many of you journal, and if so, in a physical book of pages rather than an electronic device?

In the age of diversity, I would be remiss if I didn’t address the question of gender versus penmanship.  I can only address this from an anecdotal perspective.  I remember my mother’s award wining penmanship.  She is gone now but even in her late eighties, with arthritis taking its toll, she still took the time to write beautiful birthday and Christmas cards.  My father on the other hand, was told by one of his teachers, he had the writing of... well let’s just say, if Mom’s was a ten, Dad’s was a strong one.  Every day in my current job I see dozens of examples of peoples’ handwriting and it seems to me the best penmanship comes from women, not men.  Don’t ask me why, I have no idea.  Maybe it’s a thing that women take more pride in penmanship, in doing it right?  Except for doctors, we all know no one can read doctors’ handwriting.  That’s definitely a thing.

And then there is the impact of the penned word. That note from a friend or family member who has taken the time to select that perfect card or writing paper, and written to you, something that touched your heart, perhaps saved to a memory box forever. How many of those text messages or emails will be saved, or even found when that time comes to remember and cherish those special moments with a special friend or loved one?

Some time ago, I wrote, with my favourite fountain pen, a letter to one of my grandchildren who lives many miles away and was having a difficult time.  Sometimes it is months between visits. We had met a few weeks earlier with the family for an all too short visit at a restaurant for lunch before I had to leave for work.  When he saw me, he ran into my arms and gave me the biggest hug, reciprocated of course, before we sat down to eat.  This behaviour was not normal for this young boy who is unsure of himself. In my letter I wrote about looking forward to seeing him again and the things we would do together, but most importantly, I told him how much I had loved his hug the last time we were together, that he gave the best hugs.  

The next time we saw each other, and ever after, he never hesitates to run into my arms and give the best hugs.  He still has that letter and I know he will never forget both receiving it and reading it.  That physical penned letter will have a life long impact on him.

And just the other day, when my wife and I were discussing this topic, she reminded me of the box of letters she saved, mostly from her family.  The most poignant were letters her cousin had sent her after her aunt had passed away.  Letters her uncle had written to her aunt during the war. She had never met her father’s brother, a Canadian fighter pilot who was killed in 1942, during WWII.  With these newfound letters, she was able to finally connect and get some understanding of who he was and the ideals and people that were important to him.   

And so the ideas, thoughts, imagination are somehow not lost in the chaos that is the world of information overload today. Having found and rediscovered my pen once again, the magic has returned.  Pick up a pen, a journal, and discover it for yourself.

Magic of the Pen

Thoughts that flow
Imagination sowed,
Emotions, images of mind.
Shapes unique, identity defined.

Perhaps a fading art, beginning of the end,
That cursive magic of the pen?
Not so for me, my trusted One,
With you in hand, my story’s not yet done.


Lloyd Osler

About the Author:  Lloyd Osler is a veteran, professional engineer, serial entrepreneur and business leader with heart. He has seized every opportunity to reinvent himself, resulting in several challenging, and exciting careers throughout 50 years in the military, advanced education, IT and health industries.

What a ride! And #notyetdone — he is exercising his right brain in pursuing his passion as a writer.

Lloyd relishes the opportunity to give back and has a long history of mentoring in education, business and community. Husband to one, father of four, papa to five, he is passionate about future generations and is a strong advocate of social issues such as mental health, gender diversity, and equality. He currently serves on the international Advisory Board of, promoting global gender mentoring and equality in business. He is also a co-founder at Follow Lloyd on Twitter at @powerofpapa.

At various times in one's life, there comes a moment to evaluate where we are and where we want to be, who we are and what we want to become. Seize the moment and change. No time to waste. —Lloyd Osler

1 comment

  • Eva Shaw

    CONGRATULTIONS. Excellent writing.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published