I wasn’t going to write this, feeling like the last thing anybody needs is another post explaining or defending or extolling paper, but then two events became bridged in my mind and I felt like I would be restless until I wrote them, about that bridge, so there you have a little apologia for what follows, which is that I moved some months ago to a new house, and recently found myself sitting on the floor late at night amidst boxes filled with folders and smaller boxes, and several folders were marked MISC and contained all kinds of paper, critical essays that I wrote during college and grad school about Emily Dickinson and Auden and post-structuralism and William Blake, and pages from the first novel I wrote, and pages from the first “novel” I wrote, and notebooks filled with other writings, and long letters never sent, and then I opened a box within a box and it was filled with floppy discs, each one labeled with the year and some vague tags, like “teaching stuff” and “post-mod essays” and “stories/summer” and “Needle,” and I just held those floppies like they were quaint artifacts from my Victorian childhood, realizing that I had no means of accessing their contents, and then stacking them neatly back into their smaller and then larger box, and returning to the piles of paper feeling a kind of profound agitation with regard to permanence or the myth of permanence, and remembering standing outside of the office where I worked just a couple blocks from the World Trade Center READ MORE >
I used to be in a writing group, there were three of us (I’ll name one F and the other K because they may or may not want me writing about them publicly), all women, professors in our mid-twenties to early thirties, with at least one book published, and drastically different writing styles, and it was the radical range in style that made our group function: there was no secret animosity, no competition, we read and respected each other’s writing, worked towards doing what we wanted to be doing. This group functioned how a writing group ought to function, at least to me. Then, of course, as things go with the academy, we scattered. K got a TT job. F and I stayed put in South Bend. But the group dynamic wasn’t the same, since we lost 1/3 of our membership, and eventually, I left too: up north, with my partner, who’s here for grad school, and I’ll start grad school in the fall too, in Geography, a move away from writing entirely.
But back to my story, I tend to wander: We used writing group time to “workshop,” absolutely, but between stories, we’d talk about process. Both K and F write primarily by computer, though they always have a notebook handy, in case they get ideas. Maybe, let’s call it, a hybrid type of writing, relying mostly on laptop. I write by hand, usually a whole draft or most of a draft, but I transfer to computer every day or three. We talked about that for a while, the difference between these two modes of composition, and—I’m getting to my point, slowly, but I assure you, I’m getting there—then, we talked about paper.
We all write in Moleskines, typical, cliché, we can admit that. Here’s the difference though: F writes on blank paper, K on lined, and I write on graph paper.