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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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


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.


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.