Sticking To It.

Most of what I write starts out as handwritten drafts in composition books. It’s a habit I’ve stuck to for decades. I like the physical nature of writing by hand, and the security of pen and ink. When I got my first computer, a Hewlett-Packard with an amber monitor and two floppy disk drives, I was amazed by how fast it allowed me to write and edit, but then, after about eighteen months, it started making a thunk-thunk sound when I tried to save what I’d written, so if I really wanted to save it I’d have to recopy it all by hand. I still like word processors and they’ve come a long way and I’ve never had to deal with thunk-thunk again but I still like old fashioned writing by hand.

About ten years ago I was flipping through an old issue of National Geographic that someone had thrown away and I saw a picture I liked. I decided to cut it out and paste it in the composition book I was using at the time. Then I saw more pictures and pasted those in too. I started collecting pictures from magazines, newspapers, even catalogs and junk mail. I’d stick them in composition books, often so far in advance that I’d forget they were there. Turning a page as I was writing would often bring surprises. The cutting and pasting was also a lot of work. Then, in a gift shop, I found a booklet of sea life stickers. They were a lot easier than cutting and pasting magazine pictures.

In spite of that I didn’t look seriously at stickers as a way to decorate my composition books until last year because I didn’t think there would be any out there that really fit what I wanted. I liked, and still like, the randomness of finding an unusual picture that can serve as a writing prompt or just liven up a page, but I thought of stickers as something for kids. I had, and still have, a pretty specific list of what I didn’t want: cartoon characters or overly cartoonish pictures, pictures of people, scenes from movies. Here’s what I did want, what I often looked for in magazines and other sources: realistic pictures of plants and animals, buildings, landscapes, tools and other objects, and abstract color palettes.

It wasn’t until I decided to look that I discovered what should have been obvious all along: there’s a whole community of crafters and journal writers out there who’ve created an industry of stickers: books of reprinted ephemera, steampunk designs, typewriters, clock faces, and all sorts of plants and animals. I got some for my birthday and Christmas and have been adding them to the composition book I’m currently using, and a future one, setting myself up to be surprised.

Pasting stickers still seems kind of childish but, as I get older, writing seems more and more important, and the stickers are one way of encouraging myself to write. It means a lot to me when other people enjoy what I write, but, in the end, no one else really cares whether I write or not. It’s something I do for myself–a form of exercise. It’s mental exercise but, like physical exercise, I do it because I hope it’ll keep me healthy and alert, and maybe even extend my life. And like physical exercise it doesn’t matter that I like doing it and feel better afterward. Sometimes I still need some encouragement to sit down and just do it. The stickers I’ve pasted into pages yet to come, that I forget almost as soon as they’re done, offer that.

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10 Comments

  1. BarbaraM

    “but, in the end, no one else really cares whether I write or not.”
    I beg to differ Chris – I, and I’m sure there are others, who look forward to receiving your often bits of wisdom on a regular basis, and would certainly miss them if you ceased to continue.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      That means a lot to me, it really does. I’m dealing with conflicting ideas: part of me says writing, like any art form, should be something I only do for myself, because I want to do it, and part of me says that I should be doing it for other people–or at least keeping other people in mind. Well, those ideas aren’t necessarily in conflict with each other. It’s all more than a bit muddy.

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    youtube appreciates you, one of your birthday song videos was tucked into my teaser list yesterday. i succumbed. thanks.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Well, I appreciate you finding your way here. Hello!

      Reply
  3. mydangblog

    I definitely care that you write–I think I’ve been following you longer than anyone else, and I always, always enjoy whatever you post. The stickers and pictures are such a great way to combine text and visuals for either inspiration or just enjoyment. Ken does the same thing–he collects images and stickers, puts them with quotations or thoughts and makes multi-media ‘postcards’ that he posts on his social media, something we all really enjoy. He’s creative like you:-)

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Once again I think Ken and I must be kindred spirits, and that if circumstances put us close together I’d happily be his assistant. Anyway I do appreciate that you care what I write and that you’ve been following me for so long. It means a lot given how much I enjoy and respect your writing.

      Reply
  4. mydangblog

    For some reason, your site is once again not letting me comment so trying again–here’s what I said! I definitely care that you write–I think I’ve been following you longer than anyone else, and I always, always enjoy whatever you post. The stickers and pictures are such a great way to combine text and visuals for either inspiration or just enjoyment. Ken does the same thing–he collects images and stickers, puts them with quotations or thoughts and makes multi-media ‘postcards’ that he posts on his social media, something we all really enjoy. He’s creative like you:-)

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      Okay, I unspammed your other message so you’d know it did go through even if it didn’t appear right away. I’ve added you to the “approved” list more times than I can count and I don’t know what’s going on, but thank you again!

      Reply
  5. ANN J KOPLOW

    This blog post is going to stick for me, Chris, for so many reasons.

    Reply
    1. Christopher Waldrop (Post author)

      I’m glad you’re sticking with me, Ann.

      Reply

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