Last night, P and I ventured into Staples. As we stepped through the glass doors, P said, “It smells like a school in here.”
And it’s true. I can blow a lot of money on pens, recycled notebooks made from sugar cane, and Uniball Vision Elite pens if I’m not careful.
This trip, I just needed manila envelopes and printer paper. I successfully averted office supply disaster with only a short linger on the pen aisle.
Yesterday afternoon, I printed out a letter, on letterhead with a sender and receiver address. On paper. I cannot remember the last time I did this.
Then, I printed out my book proposal for You Will Not Be Forgotten, twice, when I realized there were widow/orphans everywhere that required all 50 pages to be reprinted.
I wrote my address on a 10″ envelope and affixed an “equality” stamp with deliberate intention to both the wording and the straightness.
Then, once I had my envelopes, I slid the whole packet in, the rasp of paper on paper, and wrote an agent’s address on the envelope with my soon-becoming scrawl of handwriting.
This process felt real. Solid. More like I was doing something than when I sent the exact same materials – minus the SASE – to agents in weeks previous.
There is simply something to be said for paper.
It used to be that I kept a supply of manila envelopes and knew exactly where to find my “letterhead” file on my computer. Now, I have to buy some and do a search of my hard drive. Online submissions have become the norm.
There are great advantages to this of course, not the least of which is the saving of trees. But I wonder if we haven’t lost a great deal, too.
The attention required when something sits hard and textured in front of us – the way I proofread so much more carefully, the way an editor might give a little more time to sheets of paper that she has to use her entire arm to pick up and move to the recycle bin.
I don’t know what the balance between thrift and care for the earth and expediency and attention should be.
I do know this – I miss paper. The way it slides against my finger tips with tiny mountains. The smell as I shuffle sheets against the dark wood of my desk. The sound like breath or wind on the softest of spring evenings, all green and light and hope.
Do you miss paper? Any thoughts on how we balance responsibility with physicality when it comes to submissions and publication?
I have added new classes for the upcoming summer months, including an online poetry writing workshop. I’d love to have you join us.