Stationary Porn

Because You Have ToSo I’ve been living in Italy for a few months, and blissfully lucky enough to get here by way of France.

That’s about as good as anything gets, to my thinking—not least of the sublime benefits of which is that both countries love and honor and produce fantastically beautiful stationery and pens and a bazillion related products.

Let me just list a few, for those of you addicted like me (more in a wistful window-shopping way than a buy-stuff way) to Stationery Porn, those delicious props of writing and reading and thinking about writing and reading. The following will (I hope) be forgiven for the fact that it’s a series of sentence fragments:

Envelopes, exquisitely designed with matching cards and notepaper, individually and in sets. Calligraphy sets, inks of many colors. Ingenious, beautifully-patterned gizmos that fold into shallow packaging for gifts. Boxes of all sizes, tiny enough to hold a couple of rings to big enough to hold a pair of shoes, carefully painted or papered with swoon-gorgeous designs, tapestry-like patterns, paintings of Renaissance scenes or pure, colorific abstraction.

Notebooks! Don’t get me started. Unbearably beautiful journals, covers of every possible substance and image, from Cezanne to silly. Sizes to fit pockets or briefcases; bindings of supple leather or canvas or light-bouncing material.

Instruments of writing. Pens of every heft and hue and ink-delivery-system. Some packaged like jewels in Tiffany-style cases. Some stuffed in quantity like fat bouquets into large jars or mugs. For the artist, of course, arrays of drawing and sketch pads, watercolors and oil paints, pencils and items I don’t have the security clearance to name accurately.

Bookmarks, stamped with scenes from Venice or Paris, or 14th century Florence.

I enter the shops murmuring, and exit murmuring. I buy a bookmark, a postcard. I thank each shop owner with reverence.

The main humbug about exquisite writing props, I think, is that the objects themselves are so beautiful we may fear to use them, reasoning that what they make should be perfect. Of course, that’s paralyzing. Food and wine are for consuming; so are the writing trade’s tools!

For me, it’s thrilling just to know that these beautiful indulgences—what they imply, and what they serve—are still beloved in the world.

Because You Have ToJoan Frank is the author of five books of fiction, and a recent essay collection called Because You Have To: A Writing Lifejust nominated for the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award in Nonfiction. Joan holds an MFA in creative fiction from Warren Wilson College, is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the ForeWord Reviews Book of the Year Award in Short Fiction, Richard Sullivan Prize, Dana Award, and is the recipient of grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation, and Sonoma Arts Council. A two-time nominee for the Northern California Book Award in Fiction and San Francisco Library Literary Laureate, Joan has taught creative writing at San Francisco State University, and continues to teach and edit in private consultation. Joan also regularly reviews literary fiction for the San Francisco Chronicle Book Review. She lives in Northern California.

Site: http://www.joanfrank.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/joan.frank.9?fref=ts

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