The Case for Paper

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“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Here we go again: it’s time for me to pack up all my books as we are moving: just across town, but still, every single object, piece of food, lingering dust bunny, must be transported. The kids are having an interesting reaction to this idea: “Will this chair come? Do I get to bring my bed? Will we have lights there?”

Since, like many creative types, I lean towards being both impulsive and compulsive, I look at my shelves and shelves of books and think: of course, those are so easy, I’ll begin with the books. One narrow shelf per small book box. They stack perfectly and neatly next to each other. There is no scheming or planning for those boxes; it’s instant gratification.

And yet. And yet. Here I am just a few days after the boxes have been taped and stacked, and of course, I need a few of those books. For what? Why? Well I’m working on a blog post for someone in which I reference that scene in Cather in the Rye when Holden asks the cab driver where the ducks go in winter, and I can’t remember how the cab driver responds. And, my mother-in-law told me that her favorite book is Stuart Little and I’ve saved my copy from childhood and want to begin reading it with my daughter, but – you got it, it’s packed up. And, I just read an interview with George Saunders (one of my favorite writers) and he recommended a story that I want to read and I’m pretty sure I already have it one of my collections.  This is where the impulsiveness parts settles in. I’ve come to terms (partly by reading other writers’ memoirs) that a lot of fostering creativity is about these moments which we feel the need to answer the questions, or continue the study, or sit and peruse, immediately. It’s not so much about instant gratification, but allowing your mind to swell over a sliver of an idea that takes hold and begins to sprawl. [Read more…]