Then I somehow - can't remember why or how - came across a website that changed everything.
Someone was comparing two budget models of a type of pen I didn't even know existed: a flexible-nib fountain pen, with which line weight gets much wider with increased pressure!
By the end of the article I was determined I had to buy one.
I needed to order from the states, but even with postage it was quite inexpensive and came quickly. And I was not disappointed. Instead of slow clinically accurate lines, I could make variations in thickness to imply shadow, and could write at natural handwriting speed, and could emphasise certain words.
It's taken some learning to get used to the drying speed of the waterproof ink I use - which is SLOOOOW - and stop smudging it quite so much. There is sitll much experimenting with different inks to be done. But I love the look and the feel, and the fact I have to operate its little piston to pull ink into it from a bottle, and it's such a lot of fun to draw with.
Want to know more? This is the one I bought: