manuscript notebooks

Work Comes Home - Part 7

Summary: You work for the company that publishes Hamilton: The Revolution. 

Words: Approx. 9950

Author’s Note: Hi, I’m sorry this took so long, but I really hope you like it. It wouldn’t have been possible without @ourforgottenboleros, @secretschuylersister and @gratitudejoyandsorrow for reading it over. Also, all you writers who are creating amazing content every single day, thank you for being inspirational. 

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Disclaimer: Obviously, the overall story timeline is a little weird, it takes a while to publish a book, but we’re condensing that time for the purpose of the story. Also let me know if there’s any mistakes, I definitely got lazy editing.

Warnings: Some swearing

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Essays in Existentialism: San Francisco

oooooo prompt: indie painter/artist clarke and bohemian writer lexa. basically i just wanna see them as hipsters. possibly living in san francisco.

The notebook exploded into dozens of pages against the wall, like a sad, lonely kind of firework. The cat wasn’t even bothered, blinking slowly and turning its head to the side after adjusting slightly. Not even the stalking owner of said notebook and semi-owner of said cat, huffing through the room, shoulders hunched and hands gripped, face stoically full of wrath, bothered the feline who had grown accustomed to such things. 

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Thick as a brick

This brick of a book contains the notes of John Bureus, a librarian who obviously had a lot of things on his mind. He filled page after page with travel accounts, impressions, transcriptions and legends, starting in 1599, at the age of 31. He kept adding leaves, no less than 700 of them, until he turned eighty, in 1648. Binding fifty years of thoughts proved challenging, as the binding cords on the back show - which give the object the appearance of a guitar. A large medieval parchment page provided some support to this monstrosity, which John Bureus, with a sense of understatement, had the audacity to call “my scribbling book”. What really made my day, however, is the description by Stockholm’s National Library, where the manuscript is currently kept: a book with “seemingly fragmented thought patterns, some of which still remain to be interpreted.” Way to go, John - may you rest in peace.

Pic: Stockholm, Royal Library, MS FA 12 (1599-1648). More images and information here.


A mid 19th century notebook with limp vellum covers - 

a simple booklet of blank pages sewn together ruled in both pencil and ink and adapted into a Diary beginning Jan 1st 1854 it continues through to July 1856 where an additional 16 pages have been sewn in [the last 10 are blank] written throughout in shorthand there is some English marking certain dates with historical significance

48 pages + 16 pages of blue paper
measures just 114mm x 80mm


I talk a lot about books and accessibility. I like to talk about how print and digital aren’t enemies, and that digital and audio are essential for the visually impaired. I say this while being someone who harbors deep romantic feelings for physical books–to the point where I hand bound and antiqued 16 of them. I’ve always wondered if that was somehow hypocritical.

Last week, at a book discussion at my public library, I met a blind reader. During my usual spiel I talk about the crazy book binding art project that was me submitting the manuscript to publishers. I bring one of my failed manuscript babies as a visual aid. People who listen to the audio book and are lucky enough to know nothing about this blog often have no idea the book is illustrated, or that this bookbinding insanity happened. So when I haul out my original manuscript there’s usually a small kerfuffle. It’s cool. Yes, I do it for the wow factor. In a life that’s dull more often than not, we should all do things for a wow factor.

Back to the blind reader. Back to the library.

At the end of the book talk, I signed copies that anyone brought with them, and I let them take a peek the manuscript, a notebook, and the pamphlet I have about  the process behind it. I’ve always thought it’s a good way to kill time if there’s a line.

The blind reader was at (or near) the end of the line. I wasn’t in a rush. He and I talked about the audio book and what a great job Ari Fliakos does with it. He was super kind about my terrible Russian accent (I often read a section that requires some… theatrics). Then he asked where I had set the manuscript. I slid it over and let him know that he could pick it up, touch it. He touched the edges and I walked him through the process of rasping them. I told him about the cover and the paper used to make it. I watched him touch the pages to feel the difference between the tea-stained areas and smooth paper. He was more careful with the binding than I’ve ever been. It’s waxed linen thread, and I let him know that’s why it feels slightly tacky where the threads meet.

Then I said, “Pick it up. Sniff it if you want. I betcha anything it still smells like tea.” And he did. And it does. The book still smells like Earl Grey. And we were both grinning. Yes, I still sniff my book. This library patron and I share that now. We talked some plot stuff, horseshoe crab questions, and then had a melding of minds about having tough feet. Books are always about more than just reading, or even how we read.

What I’m saying is that accessibility is sometimes just *actually being accessible.* Access is being somewhere with my book, learning how you read, and how we read together.

I’ve talked with a lot of people lately.

That guy made my year.

The Aphorism. The Fragment—all of these are “notebook-thinking”; are produced by the idea of keeping a notebook.

One could trace history of thought / art in relation to the forms of transcription: letter manuscript notebook.

The notebook has become an art form (Rilke, Lizzie’s book [Sleepless Nights]), a thought-form (Barthes), even a philosophical form (Lichtenberg, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Cioran, Canetti).

Decline of the letter, the rise of the notebook! One doesn’t write to others any more; one writes to oneself.

Why? Parsimony? Don’t squander one’s pretty phrases, one’s wisdom on someone else—a distant recipient who may not have the courtesy to save the letter.

Save it for yourself!

Hoarding ideas.

The persona of a notebook is different. More insolent (let’s not think about the whiners!)

—  Susan Sontag, As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh (4.26.80)

Solas x Lavellan fluff. Certified angst-free, despite the title.

It is late. The background of bickering from the library has finally filtered away, and Solas relishes in the solitude, sustained by the pages unread, flicking through the latest requisition of tomes from the University of Orlais. Time filters by with his every inked note on the page, noted only by the time it takes each sentence to dry. But he has revived the veilfire braziers, here, the familiar light burning unerringly over his shoulder, and so it doesn’t matter how many hours pass as he sits at his desk. How long he spends pouring over his texts, dry eyed and tired, reading until the crows above wake with the dawn.

He’s spent many an evening like this, and will see many more before this ends. It’s soothing, in its way - both emptier and fuller than the daylight hours (it’s harder to see what’s missing when you can avoid the broken pieces entirely) and he does enjoy reading, for all the lifelessness that now lies behind the words.

So he continues like that, bent over manuscript and notebook, long after the great torches of the main hall are extinguished. He continues, scarcely looking up, until a collection of scuffling and scratching sounds from the hall door catch his attention.

He looks up to see Lavellan padding slowly into the rotunda. She rolls the door open with the edge of her foot, bowed over a weighty tray of food - and there is a bottle of wine tucked under her arm, too, he notices, as she successfully worms through, stepping towards him with a smile.

The smell of the apple tarts reach him first. His hunger stirs around his rush of surprise, the day’s meals neglected in his concentration on Renalto’s interpretation of dream forms (third edition, blacklisted by the chantry) - but it is the surprise that wins out.

This is the third occasion of such generosity in as many months. On the second Wednesday of each month, in fact - the sort of coincidence he long ago learned was far too particular to be the progeny of chance.

He waits for, and even prompts, an explanation from her as she busies herself setting their little table in the corner, humming an unfamiliar tune and batting his hands away when he tries to assist. But as before, she dodges or ignores his hints with ease - drawing him into a discussion about the evolution of runic languages since the fall with such embarrassing success that their meal is complete and she is preparing to leave when he finally realises his mistake.

She is getting to her feet, gathering the dishes back into the tray as she goes, when he moves to stop her. Snags her by the waist, tugs her between his knees and anchors her there, pulling the tray from her hands.

She blinks down at him, unresisting - a question, even interest in the cock of her brow.

“I am… unfamiliar with this,” he admits at last, watching her expression. It is not easy to say - her reticence must be catching - and he glimpses the flicker of understanding - guilt? - that crosses her features before they are schooled into polite confusion.

He likes to think he knows her enough, though, to see how far the expression has slipped.

“Unfamiliar with what? Dinner?” she tries, but the effort isn’t genuine and he shakes his head with a smile, tries again, trying to tongue away the stiltedness of his words.

“This… gift-giving custom.” Another flicker of expression - nerves, this time and he observes her. The fidget of her fingers as they gently pry the tray from his hands again. “I am curious. And find myself at a, disadvantage. I don’t know what to give you in return.”

She blushes, the blood rosying brown cheeks, but the curve of a grin is breaking across her lips nonetheless. It’s a good sign, he thinks.

“You, ignorant?”

Perhaps not.

She sways further away from him, using the plates as a shield. Seated as he is, he is helpless to stop her, although he trails his hand across her hip as she goes. She follows it with a step back, and her teeth flash in the glow of the veil fire.

“I never thought to hear you admit to such a thing, Solas. But no. It is not a Dalish custom.”

She tries to leave again, then, twisting on her heel, but he rises and steps with her, companionably accompanying her across the room. His hand presses against her upper back as they walk - he can feel the heat of her skin through the light tunic she dons within the castle, the shift of the muscles in her back as she moves to accommodate him. He will not let this go so easily.

“If not Dalish - then from the city?” She doesn’t ask him to stop, even if she won’t look at him. There is even another smile playing on her lips and he considers that, tilting his head. “You’ve spent considerable time among the elves there, I recall. Is it one of their traditions?”

“No, not that either.”

Her words are amused, directed pointedly forward, and then- they are already at the other end of the rotunda. The door is open before them, cracked ajar, but when they reach the threshold she hesitates, her hands fidgeting again with the tray in her grip.

He waits, with a patience born of ages.

With a sigh she appears to relent, swivelling to face him. Her expression is fondly exasperated, though, if still burning with her blush - the freckles around her nose are more recognisable this way, he notes.

“Accept it for what it is, vhenan,” she insists lightly. “A gift.”

He raises an eyebrow, his light touch on her back ghosting downwards, thumb catching the ridge of her spine. She shivers, and then scowls at him, but he only blinks, expectant. He is not above such tactics.

“Proffered every month?”

She stares stubbornly back, lips pursing.

“If that is when it occurs.”

They hold each other’s gazes for a long moment at that, ignoring raised eyebrows, the tap of his thumb against her tunic.

It is he that relents.

Breaking the contact, he draws his grip away, allowing space between them once more. If she will not tell him, then- she won’t. Not yet, at least. He will just have to be content to wait.

She steps backwards, expression fonder if possible, but also relieved, and then she escapes into the hall.

He watches her go, nudging the door closed only after she disappears towards her quarters.

The aviaries’ chained cages creak and rustles with feathers above him when he turns back to face his room, accompanied only by the soundless flicker of the veilfire, the faceless parade of his unfinished mural.

He returns to his desk. Looks over his books, the manuscripts - the latest an Avaar ‘Wilderling’ mage’s descriptions of his hold’s clutch of ancestor-spirits, the functional relationships that could still be formulated between the realms… but his mind is wandering.

Her first gift lays tucked into his hip purse. A wyvern’s tooth, delicately engraved with a weave of vines - the work of one of the Iron Bull’s chargers, if he was not mistaken.

He takes it out now. Sits. Places it on the least cluttered portion of his desk, and tips it gently to-and-fro, examining it in the torch light.


this was supposed to be two things. 1: fluff for jessica 2. solas getting flustered at getting a gift for @arlavellan

it isn’t really either, but isn’t really not it at the same time if that makes any sense but i will do better next time

lavellan is doing this cute thing where she celebrates the anniversary of them meaning what they mean to each other once each month in different ways, as they don’t have a specific date and she wants to celebrate it all the time not just once a year

eventually she will tell him this

not today

this is rough and will definitely be edited but fluff friday only lasts so long so voila