The Smell of Paper…by Claire Gem
We all know what it smells like, and for each of us it has a special meaning. A memory trigger, if you will. That scent-sation is especially significant for me at this time of year. Especially this year.
Does anybody else hoard gift wrap? I do. As a result, some gifts find their place under the tree bearing a slight musty odor from a year of storage in the basement, or at the back of a closet. Not a bad smell…almost a nostalgic aroma.
I wrap my delicate Christmas tree ornaments in tissue paper. Naturally, over the course of a year, again, stored in basement or attic, these special ornaments emit a distinctive scent of their own as they’re revealed to shine for yet another year. Again, the aroma evokes nostalgic emotions & memories.
Books, these days, have less and less to do with paper. I know e-books are all the rage. But I’ll admit to being a hard-core dinosaur. Can’t help it—I still love the paper. The feel of a book in my hands, the woody scent, the zesty tang of ink. Add a little age, and the effect is intoxicating—the older the book, the better. I suppose that passion is what inspired me to set my debut ghost story, Phantom Traces, in an old library.
Recently I experienced the ultimate “paper high” after returning home from a Halloween weekend with my daughter and grandson in Florida, 1200 miles away from my home in Massachusetts. I arrived to find a box addressed to me, from Deborah Gilbert, Soul Mate Publishing. Imagine that. While I was off enjoying the dubious pleasure of sweating as I took my grandson out to trick-or-treat (sweating in October? Seriously?) my paperback copies of Phantom Traces had arrived.
There is nothing—I will repeat, NOTHING—like holding that first, real book copy in your hands. The physical incarnation of something you struggled, suffered, agonized, and lost sleep over for the past X number of months/years. There is no emotion that can compare. (Come to think of it, sounds a little like the birthing process, doesn’t it? But we’re talking books here.) And what peaks the experience? The smell of paper. And tangy, fresh ink.
We are authors. We all dream of this day. The day when we hold our own words, published on paper for the world to see. It’s a special day. And a promise for the future.
I just spent the 30 days of November engaging in Nanowrimo — National Novel Writing Month — and again, succeeded in completing the challenge. Nano is how Phantom Traces was born. My present WIP is another ghost romance set in an abandoned hotel on Loch Sheldrake in the Catskill Mountains where it’s rumored the mob used to dump bodies, working title Hearts Unlocked.
I have to admit, during those days mid-month when all I wanted to do was turn off the computer and forget I’d ever WANTED to write, knowing that box of SMP books was in the front room gave me the courage, and the strength, to keep writing.
When the words just won’t come, when you’ve gotten that 50th rejection letter, rejoice! Know that we are not just authors, we are word wizards. We may just have the toughest job in the world, as we are driven to create imagined worlds real enough to transport readers to another place, another time. Meet new imaginary people, then experience all the emotions of those characters. And our only tool is words. That’s a pretty big order to fill.
But as wizards, we have the power to do just that.
We can make things happen, create worlds and people, and have things turn out the way we want them to. Make people fall in love and stay that way, ever after. That’s a pretty awesome ability, right?
One thing is for certain about the holidays, no matter how you celebrate them: there is magic. Seize it, embrace it, and apply it to your creative muse. Allow the magic of the holidays to incite wonder and joy in your life, and in all of those you touch.
Raise your awareness to the details: even colorful light displays can’t match the beauty of morning light sparkling on snow. Sounds—music floating on the air, children’s laughter filled with hopeful anticipation, or how a fresh snowfall mutes the world into reverent silence. The scents—pine from the boughs, cinnamon and spice from the kitchen. And that wonderful, inexplicable, elusive smell of paper that everyone who has ever enjoyed a story knows all too well.
May the Universe bless all the authors of Soul Mate Publishing. We make magic, and the elves of SMP help us to bring that magic to the world.
And to all, a good night J