As part of a project called Future Library, Margaret Atwood wrote a story that won’t be printed for 99 years because the trees growing in Norway to hold her words won’t be ready to harvest for paper till then. Meanwhile, those lungs of the world—as grocery clerk Jamie refers to trees—will grow and grow and become home to birds and other creatures, will make shade for those who need it, will give the wind something to run through. The project’s centered on the idea of whether there will even be humans in 99 years. And faith that there will be.
Composing on paper is entirely different from writing on a screen. Though I primarily wrote Step into Nature, my new book, on my laptop, most of it began on paper while I was out walking in the nearby woods. Each day I’d tuck a hand-embellished notebook into my fanny pack and off I’d go to walk, yes, but also to take dictation from the trees. Once in the forest, words, images, ideas came to me as they come nowhere else, and I’d jot down notes. Upon returning home those notes became sentences, paragraphs, the premise for entire chapters.
Going through my closets and drawers, I’ve gathered up a lot of paper and had my local copy shop repurpose it as spiral bound notebooks, small, pocket-sized ones. They’re lightweight and easy to carry. But before taking them out, before a single word is jotted down, I decorate and personalize them. I’ve found that doing so initiates a relationship with the tool, and thusly I’m more inclined to write freely in them. Sometimes I make a collage on the covers or simply paste a photograph there. I’ll embellish the inside covers with favorite quotes, words to lead me on, add pictures there too. I love the feel of nubby paper against my hand as I write. I like the feeling of the inked words taking hold of the paper and settling down there. The image I’ve made for the cover inspires my content too.