I use computers all the time and wouldn’t dream of going back to writing on paper as a matter of course. The convenience of word processing, and being able to blog and tweet to my heart’s content, is a wonderful convenience.
But, that doesn’t mean I have lost the thrill of a blank, fresh, crisp piece of paper, just waiting to take its first mark. I love stationery shops too. Ranks of coloured paper, card, pens, markers, envelopes… mmmmmmm. My writing improves when I’m in one of these moods; a nice plump pen with a good grip and a smooth roller tip just sliding over paper in a notebook, leaving a satisfying trail of words. The writing changes the nature of the paper, too. It feels fuller, completed, and sounds muted when the pages are turned. I love to just feel the pages. To leaf through them and listen to the words rustling on the page.
So you can imagine my delight when, in a magic shop in Glastonbury, I found a deep green leather-bound book of hand-made paper, with a scarlet velvet inside cover. Blank. Empty. Waiting. It’s by my side as I write this now, and I can hardly wait to start writing in it. But I will wait. In the book I’m currently writing, The Salt Man, archaeologists find a journal. When I’ve completed the journal part of the book on my computer, my beautiful leather book with a Green Man embossed on the soft leather cover will contain the hand-written version. And I will enjoy the tactile, sensual experience of writing it in ink, on paper. Because writing is a physical activity, as well as a mental one.
I wish I could carve wood. I greatly admire those who can. I’m amazed at how they can see a shape in the raw piece, and release it with saws and chisels. The picture on the right is of a carving in my garden created by Ian, a genius we met at a country fair. I love Green Men, and this ash branch had a rather grumpy one hiding in it. Ian found him, though.
Physical writing with a pen on paper is the nearest I can get to carving. It has a similar sense for me; seeing the shape of the words on the paper, and setting them loose to run across the page. It will take a lot of self-control not to start writing soon in my green book. But it will be worth the wait.