Thursday, March 15, 2007

The napkin fiction project

We've all heard the stories of writers scribbling on a napkin. I recall a bar in Churchill Square where I jotted down a couple of things about a novel in progress on a napkin once. But for some reason, I tend to turn to ATM receipts to note something important, if i don't have one of my trusty moleskines. I also try to have 3x5 index cards (or a hipster PDA) in all the backpacks, purses, and other bags I switch back and forth between. But anyone can find themselves with a thought they need to record and nothing to write on. In a pinch, I once wrote on a diaper. And I'm not someone who writes a lot of notes while I'm working on projects. Grocery lists, to do lists, and dates for birthdays I do try to record but not so much notes about the fiction I am writing.

Esquire magazine took this idea and decided to see what someone would write if given a napkin for the task. They sent 250 napkins in the mail to writers from all over the US and received nearly a hundred stories back. They are interesting (though sometimes not) because of what people decided to do with them. The work on the napkins range from minimalist to crammed with stuff; some were quite organized with beautiful handwriting and illustrations, and some were not. There was even a napkin novel.

So what do you write on and what exactly is it you write? I know something that writer Kenneth J. Harvey has written notes on.


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