Make Something: Ball

No one crumples their paper any more.

I’m glad. I care about trees. So I’m happy that my worst days as a writer don’t mean peril for a forest. At best, a bad day at the keyboard just means a workout for the DELETE key; most of the time, I can backspace the bad stuff, replace it with something better, and move on. At worst, an entire file goes to the digital trash bin.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I can say, “No trees were harmed in the formation of these phrases.”

But once upon a time, writers must have struggled through reams of paper and gallons of ink. Community bonfires may have been started on the first-draft briquettes of aspiring poets and novelists. Nosy villagers might have seen mountains of crumpled drafts, assuming their neighbors witless or wordless or hopeless or drunk.

I’m glad I didn’t write in those days.

This evening, knowing I could come home and compose words on a virtual page, I felt liberated. Waiting for dinner at one of our favorite restaurants, I scrawled a few words on my dinner napkin …


It’s true. I can’t remember the last time I wrote something longhand, then looked at it with such dissatisfaction that I wanted to destroy it. Typically, the most I write longhand these days is a check. And those are few and far between, thanks to debit cards.

So it was an odd feeling to crumple this hand-written napkin into a ball. But I did it. Then I flicked it across the table to my husband.


“Are we playing?” he wanted to know.

“Absolutely,” I said.

What a concept, I thought, to play with throw-away words. But why not? Words may be one of the only unlimited resources we have.

So let’s play. We can always make more.

2 responses to “Make Something: Ball

  1. I struggle with editing if only because I forget what I write. I like writing by hand because I remember better. And I’m so used to hating my past words I want to be able to crumple them up in anger.

    • I sometimes write longhand, but much more seldom these days. Off and on again, I write morning pages (a la Julia Cameron’s “The Artist’s Way”) … but regardless of what I write on those sheets, I leave it all in place. No editing. I don’t even rip pages from the notebooks. Maybe it’s a kind of self-forgiveness, letting even my crappy words stay intact.

      But I do identify with that gratification of crumpling. Every now and then, it just feels good.

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