Does anyone write on paper anymore? That beautiful substance we began making around 200AD by creating pulp from plant fibers and drying it in sheets? Humans have been putting pen to paper for over a thousand years to document events, stories and processes. Today, we try to use paper as little as possible to preserve the Earth and its precious resources. Plus, the digital world of computers makes it so much more convenient to keep all your papers, files and books on a hard drive. But I miss paper! I miss journals, books, letters and magazines. Don’t get me started on magazines. I love the smell of magazines. I have a genuine love for paper and words.
I began writing poetry and journaling when I was around eight years old. My mother had written some beautiful poetry and prose in our family photo albums and I wanted to create that. Beauty with words. I instantly appreciated it. The curves of the cursive capitals and the shade changes of the ink in different spots, depending on the amount of pressure that was used. Somehow, there is a beauty in handwriting whether its choppy or loopy, big or tiny. It’s an individual characteristic, like a fingerprint but you’ve created it. It’s a part of your soul, like an unconscious expression of art. Especially when what you are writing is what you are feeling.
I feel a connection reading something handwritten, it feels personal. To be touching the same piece of paper they were touching when they were writing the sentiment is incredible. You can hold a real piece of history in your hand and read the ink that is decades old, creating words from thoughts formed before you were born. Throughout my life, when I felt like journaling, nothing was more satisfying than grabbing a pen and lined paper, furiously putting my emotions down in ink using my own handwriting. It was cathartic. I used to be in love with stationary and handwritten cards. My favorites have been bold, saturated colors, monogrammed and nature designs. Now that I think of it, I don’t think I ever received any, maybe one from my aunt, but sending them is fun. I’ve always thought postcards were fun but now most people use Instagram. In the last few decades, I’ve done a lot of typing, don’t get me wrong. I was a medical transcriptionist for years and typing reports never bothered me. But it took years of effort, forcing myself to type creative writing and journaling, to finally feel like I could be creative and type at the same time. It felt like the moment I touched the keyboard my creative flow would break. I couldn’t think without a pen in my hand. It was just habit, I guess. I finally gave in to the tech age just last year and now do most of my writing on the laptop or even my phone, but it was definitely an adjustment and it took practice.
The same can be said for reading. My mother also had poetry books in our library when I was young, and I loved the elaborate words and the rhythm of poetry. Books were always mysterious and valuable, to me. Who else had held this book and read these words? With the release of Kindle and ereaders, I was resistant. I only read a book on a screen if I absolutely had to. I gave in because of sheer convenience. I can devour so many more stories instantly, but I still love going to the library. I love holding books and turning the pages, some dog-eared, some stained. The feel of the cellophane or cardstock cover when you open and close it. I slip a piece of paper inside as a bookmark, or a photo. It’s so much easier than, RIGHT CLICK, select BOOKMARK. And the opening and closing of the apps, I can just grab a pen and write or grab a book and read. I guess I’m impulsive like that, I could change my mind in the two minutes it takes me to open an app and select something from a list.
Wow, I’ve started feeling pretty old thinking about this evolution of how I read and write. Sometimes I feel like all these things were made to be convenient but really aren’t. Maybe, I’m just slow and resistant to change. I’m well aware of the advantages that digital word processing offers including storage options and editing features and I will admit that typing and reading for my career is best done on the computer. There are endless amounts of material accessible instantly and work can be backed up multiple times, edited and sent anywhere in seconds. But for pleasure, I prefer the old-fashioned way. Books and papers. Pens and pencils. A novel I can read on the beach without a full battery and a terrible glare, my phone getting too hot from the sun. A notebook I can simply toss aside when I want to run and play with the kids, ink rolling onto the lined paper in sure strokes, artfully creating the words of my soul. The pages flutter in the wind.
Leave a comment! How do you prefer to read and write?