The Permanence of Ink

I love the beginning of school in part because it means buying office supplies, which I love. Pens, pencils, and paper are absurdly overdetermined for me. (Or maybe not. Writing is, after all, the single most important technology that man has invented, underpinning all others by facilitating the transfer of information of all kinds from person to person and over vast distances and time.)

I started writing for myself long before I ever considered myself a writer. I kept journals and wrote letters I never sent for years, though always disposing of them at some point along the way. (If I were asked to make a drawing that symbolizes my life, and if I could draw, it would be of me walking away from a burning bridge without looking back.) And in the time before computers, I kept them in physical notebooks, written in ink.

I can't imagine writing a whole book longhand. I really learned how to write on computers, with the ability to go back, edit, cut and paste, and rearrange at will without having to scratch out and recopy or retype huge swaths of text. It is a different experience from my high school years of scribbling and rewriting, and I don't think I could have ever become a proper writer without my Mac. My hat is off to anyone who can write a novel with a pen.

But I still find that I miss the feel of paper and pen, of making a mark that stays there, physical and solid and utterly unlike the sneeze in cyberspace of a tweet.

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