Saturday, September 11, 2010

Paper: The Miracle Product


When I was a little kid, I got hold of some money once. I bought a yellow binder filled with lined paper, and in the back of my parents’ pickup truck, I wrote my first poem. It went something like this:

I wish
I had a fish
In a dish.

It’s part of my lifelong love affair with paper and pen. One of my earliest memories is of writing long scribbly lines on piece of paper, imitating my mother’s handwriting. I felt proud to have done what she did, and I was hurt when she said it wasn’t “real” writing.

Mom told me once that I habitually tore paper into bits, which I folded and tucked away in hiding places. That behavior concerned her so she took me to consult with someone. When she told me this, I was an adolescent and she was explaining that I’d rejected her all my young life. The paper-hiding thing was one of a long line of incidents stretching from my refusal to nurse as an infant to my current rebellious behavior. It all struck me as unfair. Later I understood that it was unfair, and I understood that all of us instinctively blame others for our feelings unless we learn to accept responsibility for them.

But I digress. Paper and I go back a long way. I remember once spending my meager childhood funds on a business receipt tablet, the kind with a sheet of treated blue paper that you inserted between the white receipt and the yellow one.

I’ve always liked blank paper booklets. I have lots of tablets tucked away in the house. I like blank journal books and composition books.

Now, on computers, an empty Word document is a virtual piece of paper. But so far, virtual paper hasn’t replaced real paper in my life. I still keep the tablets. In fact, two of them are in residence right next to the computer, along with pens. They’re handy for making notes, practicing the composition of a sentence, or composing a poem.

This is the miracle of paper: Blank paper invites you to say something. It invites you to use words to capture ideas, like you use bait to capture fish. Thank God we invented paper. Rocks just don’t have the same appeal.


15 comments:

lakeviewer said...

And it shows...
Carry On!

Monkey Man said...

A love affair with paper is easy to come by. It is so wonderfully tactile, colorful and versatile. Having been in the printing industry for 30 years, I have been exposed to some very creative paper products. It makes me a bit sad that publishing is moving toward the digital world. We will lose the feel of our books. Great post, Chris.

Woman in a Window said...

I'm a traditionalist - ha! Ok, maybe not, but I'd think I'd like to write on paper but the other half of the equation is that my hand writing is illegible. I can't keep up with my ideas, and my hand is not really quite connected to my mind. It's all really rather painful and ugly. It kind of saddens me because I am with you, paper is such an experience. I collect bits though. Just try not to soil them with my writing.

xo
erin

Gwei Mui said...

Oh yes someone else who enjoys the entire experience of paper! I too like Woman in a Window have terrible handwriting - but I love the look, feel and smell of paper. Feel and touch of ink on paper. I'm not so bad with Chinese characters - but written English (it's an ugly sight)

Jess Mistress of Mischief said...

love love love it!

TechnoBabe said...

Oh man, this is uncanny. I have never met someone who had the same things told to her. My mother told me I refused to nurse. My brother was two years older and she had not trouble with him. I would starve so the nurses in the hospital put me on bottle. I too scrounged paper and wrote and hid some writing way back in drawers under clothes. Why I hid them I have no idea, except I didn't trust. Just as real books can't be replaced by online books for me, I too have a love affair with paper. The real thing.

Georgina Dollface said...

I get so excited this time of year when lined note paper is on sale for 77cents a package. I covet free "Compliments of" notepads that come in the mail, stationary from hotel rooms and recycled spreadsheet paper. - G

RNSANE said...

I keep notebooks,large and small, around, just for the purpose of jotting down notes to myself or to write thoughts. I used to carry a tiny recorder with me, especially when I was driving in the car and thinking of poems. It was great but I lost it and never replaced it.

Notebooks work better for me because I was forever losing bits of paper on which I jotted down things.

the walking man said...

When I came home from boot camp and found that my father had destroyed three years worth of my writing, mostly poetry, I never kept anything I wrote on paper. I love my hard drives, back up hard drives, and memory sticks. No one will ever take from me the one thing I know I can still do well.

Marion said...

"I remember once spending my meager childhood funds on a business receipt tablet, the kind with a sheet of treated blue paper that you inserted between the white receipt and the yellow one."

I bought one too. I have no idea why, but it felt so heavy and yummy in my hands. I still have so many blank paper booklets and tablets everywhere. Just in case, I guess, I get the urge to write...but more often than not, I draw all over them! Super post, Chris!

Carrie Burtt said...

I have note pads and lots of pens in all areas of the house, including one in the car...so i completely understand what you are saying1 Hope you have an awesome week! :-)

Magpie said...

I agree wholeheartedly!! Paper and pen in hand just feels right. I,too, have a collection of several tablets and journals - always within reach of any place I land for very long. Sadly, the new puppy found one of my favorites and made confetti of it. Now, I simply must be off to the store to replace it with another! :)

e said...

Wow...You have completely explained my habit of having tablets, notebooks and related items in the flat and usually on my person. I much prefer paper to a computer screen. Have a good week!

Scott said...

I too share your enjoyment of paper. I love to take blank and fill it with life. I squirrel away little writing books and journals as well. I still have a journal from my high school days.

I've even taken to trying to draw with pastel chalks. I'm not so good but it feels nice to do it.

Once again, I can relate!

Syd said...

I used to really like those fresh packs of school paper. They smelled so good. I still like special journals, bound in leather. Paper is awesome.

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