Paper & Me

If I was me, I’d issue a restraining order, against me entering a stationery shop, ever. Needless to say, it would save me a lot of money; it would also make me start using the many lovely writing tools and instruments that I have amassed over the years, rather, than just amassing them.

I feel very strongly about my notebooks, writing pads, pens, pencils and other assorted stationery. So much, that I am willing to be called a stationery snob. I generally refuse to write in a notebook that has a corny gold label proclaiming: Ajanta No. 5, or any such assembly line-like, engineering-ish brand, that has no respect for design, class, or even simple presentation aesthetic.

Photograph of handwritten post

The Original Post

Somewhere in 2000, I was in Singapore. There, I entered a stationery shop. My dear imaginative and curious readers, I leave it to your fecund fancies, what transpired, then. Done? OK. In the months that I was there, I visited that shop many times. I bought enough stationery to last me a lifetime. Couple of years before that, my sister went to Japan. She asked, what she could get me. I said — paper. writing pads, onion skins, notebooks, loose leaves, any kind of paper. And mechanical pencils. And pens with thin nibs. Lesser than 0.5, if they have them. She bought me all of that! Later, living with the love of my life, I discovered acrylic paper, and other forms of art paper. I bought all of those. I am not an artist, in that sense. But, I had to have that paper.

Most of my writing, now, is on the computer’s keyboard. As you can see, it has had a toll on my handwriting. Yet, for the life of me, I cannot stay away from a stationery shop. At least one small pocket-book has to be bought.

And then, just like that, Rubberband arrives in stores — real shops & online. In response to Moleskine, perhaps, but not entirely there. (PS: I have three Moleskine notebooks). This post was written in a Rubberband notebook. And much has been written in this Rubberband. Phone numbers, ideas, doodles, meeting notes, and various scribbles. It’s a weathered notebook.

And while I prefer notebooks (and books) that always look as if you just bought them from the store, the weathered notebook has a story to tell.

Apart from the obvious virtues of the notebook and the pen (or pencil, which I just adore), the one thing that writing with pen and paper is the sense of intimacy that a keyboard and a screen doesn’t offer. Perhaps, it is the sheer physics of it — the friction of the nib on paper — that disallows a thought to run ahead of its owner. The drag of the pen on paper gives the writer the time to evaluate, construct, and refine a thought as it first forms in the mind, and then imprints on the paper. If you have ever experienced your pen hovering over a comma, eager to touch the paper, you will know what I mean.

The absence of a backspace key doesn’t make your writing better — it makes your thinking better.

Most of all, the tangibility of dried ink on that blank, flattened, pulp is worth all the effort. No two letters ever look the same — unlike a font on a computer screen. Each word, each letter in a word, has a character of its own. Even the same word written over and over acquires a unique character.

Wherever we sit to write, whatever the circumstances, all our experiences — past and current — all of them twirl in our “g’s” and swirl in our “S’s”

As you read this, in fixed font, I trust, you get a flavour and a sense of what I experience tonight, as I write this post. All of it. On paper. With pen.

This weathered notebook, holds within, all the seasons of my life.

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7 thoughts on “Paper & Me

  1. I understand your passion for paper completely. I too have countless notebooks, pens, pencils, and paper, all of it fabulous. I also have fetish for old paper. Old letters, documents, advertising, stamps, bills etc… from long, long ago. Paper is so fragile and yet so powerful too. It captivates me. In my family this passion lives in all of us, we love paper and anything connected to it. I love the pictures of your notebook. Greatest post ever!

    Like

    • First things first: @ “Greatest post ever!” THANK YOU! You did bring this post out of potential oblivion (in my head). I will admit, I was a bit sad that this post did not get the kind of response that I expected. It was written with much TLC.

      To read your comment was like fresh air, WA, I mean it. Not just that you are a kindred spirit, but that you can relate with this post. I am also a big fan of all things old – and if it is on paper, oh, well!

      Much thanks for your comment. 🙂 Once again, THANK YOU! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: ‘Writing’ Again … | A Fine Imbalance
  3. First, oh my! This post took my breath away Atul! Love love love paper, your post and the fact that you wrote about writing on paper, not necessarily in this order.

    Second, don’t know what your expectations are about handwriting but your handwriting is really nice.

    Third, I too collect and then not use notebooks, especially the handmade ones. I know the pull of paper and pen. 🙂

    Like

    • First, Thank ye, very much. We (you, I and others – like WritesAlone, above) do it for the love of paper. No doubt about that. I am so glad this post resonated with you.

      Second, I have no expectations. When I was very young I had the most terrible handwriting anyone could imagine. The wise man, I often quote, told me that if he could not understand what i was “saying” he could not respond. My grandfather helped me refine my handwriting. English as well as Devanagari. My handwriting blossomed. Then, after college and such, it has become terrible again. I see my 8-year self in my handwriting sometimes. 🙂 No. No expectations, other than from myself.

      Third, we should share images of our unused notebooks. #UnusedNotebooks seems like a good hashtag on Instagram? 😀

      Thank ye much!

      Liked by 1 person

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