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Amber Paulen

A Mano

Perhaps the most unfortunate boon of being a writer is being tied to a desk. Sure, if one has a laptop and lives in a country with wireless and loungeful cafés there can be some mobility; but yet the computer screen catches the glare in the sun, outside is where I crave to be. A big grassy knoll, a bench, the beach, under the sun and all is fine for me, with the wind rustling my hair and the sun on my thirsty skin… who knows? I might start composing song.

I’ve also been reading Simone de Beauvoir’s third autobiography: Force of Circumstance, who used to write with a pen in her hand. She lugged her piles of papers along on holidays, under a tree, to cafés, to Sartre’s place. With a pen and paper one can sit outside without any worry for the glare, or power cables; pen and paper is a type of freedom. The typewriter is an especial burden to be lugging around.

Another benefit of watching one’s own words make marks by certain muscular motions is its unarguable tangibility, even more than a typewriter. I’ve been using the computer more, on the long road to finishing this book, and the nostalgia for hand-held papers hits me quite hard. I want to be able to take my work wherever to read it over, edit, reread, rewrite again. Though the computer is awesome for its neatness, it is exactly the rough and sketchy aspect that I miss—how much do I loose without notes in the margins? To fix words and sentences by a flash of whim seems way too easy. Poof! like that a whole sentence gone!

With all that said I’m starting a new wave on Descriptedlines, everything (not the reading notes though) that I write between now and when the sun begins to scorch too hot, will be written all’aperto, all’aria, a mano.

I notice that as I get older, the more precious becomes my time of sun, my time of being outdoors, of spring and summer. O! Lovely warmth. I wager I could live like this all year round. As I get older the changing of the seasons becomes more apparent, details fine-tune themselves against the blundering perception of memory, whether Mediterranean or Western Michigan. There is more to be savored for time also passes more quickly. Not to mention: I like my spring/summer clothes much better!

More than anything, I would like to know if writing with a pencil would effect my writing in general; going outside certainly does. From the age of nine until more or less two/three years ago I kept a journal—for a large chunk of this time I spent a portion of everyday expressing myself “by hand.” That’s fifteen years of journals, not a poor world traveller’s habit, for unless one is willing to lug around another suitcase they must be abandoned. I have no doubt that it has been good for me to let that habit die; journal writing has a repetitive quality that kept stuff stuck under my skin for days and sometimes years.

I think I like this writing a mano so far. The orange paper is lovely, the breeze is most pleasing and I’m already looking more tan. Too bad I can’t will it from paper to here!


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