Dear Readers for Feb. 12, 2009

Like an artist with a new pot of paint, I have always loved a blank canvas. Or page, in my case. Even as a child, I was drawn to the “school supplies” aisle at Kuhns 5 & 10, preferring to spend my allowance on tiny notebooks and pens over anything the Barbie aisle could offer.

When I entered my first office supply store -- at the ripe old age of 18 -- I gasped. It was a dream world of stuff that called to me, pads of all sizes, paper in all colors, pens with colors that put the rainbows to shame. I learned I could spend a lot of money in an office supply store.

I guess cool notebooks and pens and sticky notes and all kinds of folders were destined to be the tools of my trade, even before I knew I wanted to be a journalist.

I haven’t completely gotten over my love of anything paper and most anything ink. I have calligraphy sets, a whole cabinet full of marbled and multi-colored paper that will fit ever-so-nicely in my laser printer and several pencil holders full of unusual and funky pens, most of which don’t write.

Sitting down with a new notebook, whether it be a legal pad (I love purple ones!) or a spiral college-ruled one, is like opening a new book. I hesitate at first to doodle or just start writing. A blank page is an invitation to create, to be brilliant, to dig down deep into the recesses of your soul and put wonderful, magical words on paper.

Crisp black ink on clean, smooth white paper is, of course, the purest form. All those colors and bells and whistles tempt me, but when it comes to creating the next great masterpiece, it will have to come with black pen in hand, white paper waiting for the muse to bring the magic.

How do computers fit into all this? Very nicely, actually. My Microsoft Word page is still bright white -- probably too bright for the number of hours I stare at it -- and my typing is black, sometimes even bold, when the mood strikes me. While I still prefer to sit and muse with a clean notebook in hand, I have no problem posing my fingers above the keyboard either, coaxing the creativity to come, the letters to fill the page with thoughts, dreams, brilliance.

Reporters’ Notebooks are another animal. They are utilitarian, and they make me feel official. Designed to fit nicely in a man’s back pocket with a stiff cover to aide in furious note taking and just enough room for a pen to slide through the spiral in the top make Reporters’ Notebooks the perfect tool for the journalist. I also happen to know that Reporters’ Notebooks can be flung at great speed across a room without losing a page or the pen.

I don’t think I could create a great masterpiece in a Reporters’ Notebook, although I have come up with some pretty impressive leads.

So, what’s the point of this ode to paper? It’s really very simple. As much as I love a blank canvas, there are days when there is just nothing to fill them with. No profound thoughts, no witty stories, no kernels of knowledge to pass on.

Just a blank page. Blinking and intimidating and staring back at me as my deadline gets closer and closer and closer until…

But Ah-ha! I have filled the page after all. Until next week, Dear Readers, when my brain will be back in my head -- I hope.

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