Ah, laptop and word processor, local network and wireless mouse, you know that I love you, really I do. So don't grow jealous. Don't throw a fit. I'll come back to you, just like I always do. But today I want to shower some attention on a humbler (and equally worthy) subject. I want to praise the plain piece of paper.
See, my high-tech friends, you make writing almost magically easy. Text spills across the screen with the swipe of a hand, the click of a button, the flourish of fingers upon keys. It's miraculous, mysterious, mystical -- and also terrible. Why? Because the spell works both ways. Dissatisfied with a sentence? Perplexed over a paragraph? Angry with an awkward ending? With the same ease that it appeared, it can also evaporate. Punch the backspace button, tap delete, and voilà! It vanishes. Destruction is the yang to your compositional yin, only it's anything but balanced. You're the ultimate in masochistic delight for perfectionistic scribblers, people who'd prefer to consign a morning's effort to the digital dustbin if it doesn't turn out just right. In other words, writers like me.
But plain paper? It requires yeoman's work. The words come out slowly to the skritch-scratch of a pencil or the silent sliding of a pen. And they won't disappear at an auteur's whimsy, oh no. They remain right there, stubborn ink stains and enduring graphite markings. An eraser or correction fluid can never fully remove these telltale traces of prior efforts. You can crumple, tear, or toss, but paper abides. It will not let you forget your work. It will not facilitate facile nihilism or give ground to your existential dread. On both days of triumph and nights of despair, it provides a concrete testimony to the fact that you put down these marks, you birthed them from the depths of your mind. Succeed or fail, publish or perish, you only need to look paper to remember that you're a writer.
And I will always love it for that.
(Picture: CC 2008 by Hacklock)