For the Love of Paper
I finally found time to work on my memoir today!
The baby was running a fever, and napped much of the morning. While I laid there with his hot little cheek pressed against my chest, I opened Google Docs and reacquainted myself with the first few chapters of The Skeleton Club. I made a couple line edits and cut a paragraph or two. I didn't do any actual writing. But after being away from the book for over a week, it felt so good to return.
All day, I tried to think of a good metaphor for that feeling. Like a chiropractic adjustment. Like being a Catholic after confession. Or an athlete returning to the game after a lengthy injury. Or a sailboat that's finally caught a breeze.
OK, maybe it's better that I didn't do any writing today. Suffice to say it felt amazing, and right, and restorative. I'm already daydreaming about the time when I can, as Elizabeth Gilbert puts it, sneak off and have an affair with my most creative self.
"Why do people persist in creating, even when it’s difficult and inconvenient and often financially unrewarding? They persist because they are in love. ... When people are having an affair, they don’t mind losing sleep or missing meals. They will make whatever sacrifices they have to, and blast through any obstacles, in order to be alone with the object of their devotion—because it matters to them. Let yourself fall in love with your creativity and see what happens."
While cutting pictures out of magazines today, I discovered "A Young Man's Follies." It's a collection of letters, photographs and other ephemera from an old trunk. When artist Sarah DiDomenico found the trunk at an estate sale, she scanned its contents and created an online exhibition about the life and times of its owner, Omar Majid. You can't write fiction half as compelling. (I hope it one day becomes a book.)
What is it about vintage ephemera that entrances me?
I grew up in a family of antique dealers. Their merchandise tended to be of the boring glass and china variety. Occasionally, though, Dad would bring home a Victorian scrapbook or a stack of old drawings. Those I'd pore over for hours, as though they held the meaning of life. I loved knowing that someone a hundred years ago had cut out those pictures, had gazed down at the same paper. You want to hold magic in your hands? It's hidden in old paper. You want to feel bliss? Glide a sharp pair of scissors around the contour of a photo in a magazine.
I took the toddler on a play date this afternoon to the local children's museum. We all crowded around a table full of blocks and built elaborate towers. His friend's mother leaned over to me.
"I read that doing stuff like this is really good for you," she said. "You know, like working with your hands? Being creative? It reduces your stress levels, and makes you healthier."
I didn't have a clue what she was talking about.