Thursday, 8 June 2017

Talking to Paper

There's something about paper, a smooth white or creamy sheet or leaf of paper, lined or unlined, loose or bound. Blank and waiting to be indelibly marked in some way, although an unwritten upon sheet in itself is pure perfection, so that when written upon it's somehow spoiled, at least to the eye of its scribbler, unless they are proud of their penmanship.
I can't say, being one of these scribblers, that I am, nor why I have often been compelled to write as if to a friend, to unburden myself to a book. A sort of journal where everything set down is for my eyes only and never, or hardly ever, reread by those same eyes. I'm not sure that if I did I'd recognise the hand that wrote those entries.
And I also mean that figuratively, for my writing too, as with my personal views, seems to change constantly. Sometimes I admire it, thinking it's so-so, not so bad; sometimes I think the words look like an infestation of caterpillars inching across each page, which I observe with an interested eye as if I were an entomologist except that I don't have a fondness for bugs, as anyone who knows me would tell you, and so this comparison is far from complimentary. Then, it disgusts me, my handwriting, though legible, for its shaping lacks beauty, as caterpillars do before they transmogrify, although then nature is at fault whereas here the fault is of my own design.
The hand that wields the pen, tightly or loosely, moves left to right like a typewriter arm, Ding!, attempting to convey thoughts, feelings and events: recent or historic, and not just personal but global events. The words formed in a rapid or more considered way, dependent on the mood behind the urge. The hand also crossing out which the mind gets annoyed about, as well as missed or misspelled words when the thinking is quicker than the scribbling pen. The narrative flow broken as the mind worries instead over such errors and the overall look of the entry. Tear it out and start again! No, fight the compulsion! Is this the result of perfectionist tendencies or the computer age?
There's Tippex, yes, but it gets crusty and in a cream book stands out so that your eye, if you glance through or if it falls open to that page, is instantly drawn to what you wanted to hide. To disguise, to tidy up, neaten. Should I count the ways I could put it? and ensure, therefore, that you don't have to work to get my meaning.
A typed or printed word can be taken back or corrected, a handwritten word stays, remains on the now spoiled page even if crossed through or painted over. The evidence there like forensic material, especially if the ink fades. The deficient penmanship I can forgive, but not the errors. They're like blemishes which to you are in plain sight, their concealments botched, but which by others go unnoticed.
What others? when I'm writing for me, and only me. Enough with the explaining! And using allusions to make it relevant.
Sometimes I think talking to paper gives me more dilemmas than it resolves. I guess what I'm doing right now is the modern equivalent, except I can edit and revise, and you'll be none the wiser. Though it doesn't mean I'll be happier or even satisfied with the end result. Still, I'd much rather talk, as I am here, to a blank document or to paper than form attachments of the face-to-face kind. Because, it's not the same. You can't say what you would confide to paper, even a email or letter is similar in that you reveal more, though at times you might regret such open foolishness.
The voice committed to paper is just different, not necessarily more honest or intentionally dishonest, and often confused and definitely critical, yet it's true at the time of writing and that quality is laid bare, in real and fictional accounts. For my attraction to this mode of talk also extends to others self-explorations and recordings, be they emotive, matter-of-fact or fabricated. My introduction with Sue Townsend's Adrian Mole spiralled out of all control to get me here: a mid-thirties-something woman with a storage box full of journals and letters, and a penchant for other people's published diaries.

Picture credit: Still Life with Book, Papers and Inkwell, 1876, Francois Bonvin