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Brooklyn, NY

Handwritten is a place and space for pen and paper. We showcase things in handwriting, but also on handwriting. And so, you'll see dated letters and distant postcards alongside recent studies and typed stories. 

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Filtering by Tag: Processing

The Materials Matter

Brett Rawson


I am often asked, “What are you going to do with all of those?” in regards to my ever-amassing collection of notebooks.

The tone people adopt when they ask me registers as an accusation, or a warning that they’re going to turn me in to the reality show Hoarders’ producers and stage a televised intervention. True, the amount of notebooks I’ve accumulated makes moving daunting (the journals, both blank and filled-in, take up at least four standard file boxes, and are heavy). But these bound batches of scribbles mean the world to me. Because it isn’t just the words that matter — the content ranging from teen angst to amateur poetry to higher ed revelations — but the format. The tangibility. The way the words look on the page. The way my handwriting sometimes forms tight serpentine ribbons or grows looser and larger when tipsy or tired or both.

The materials matter; even the notebook choice tells a story. Moving chronologically, my notebooks upgrade in quality from flimsy composition notebooks (Harriet the Spy-grade Meads) or one-subject college ruled notebooks I also used for high school Trig, to those ubiquitous ribboned moleskines, or Germany’s analogue, the Leuchtturm, or even the notebook in which I composed this draft—a Stamford Notebook Co. lizard embossed cobalt beauty handbound in England.

The medium change means a few things: 1) I moved up one ladder rung in the service industry and could afford nicer products, 2) I was starting to take myself seriously as a writer, and each double-digit-$ notebook was an investment in that continued pursuit 3) other people were taking me seriously as a writer, and gifting me nice notebooks for holidays 4) I realized the paper quality, brightness, and thickness, all contributed to the actual look of the text.

I began to appreciate the aesthetic of each individual journal entry, independent of the actual written content. 

My Telescope is Pointed in a Different Direction

Brett Rawson


As a kid, I preferred to cruise in crowds and tell stories in front of audiences. I didn't like to read or write. By eighth grade, I had left both far behind: my reading and writing levels were three years behind me. I remember my mother used to turn on the microwave timer for thirty minutes, pleading me to read, if not just look at, any book. I'd say of course, she'd walk away, and fifteen minutes later, I'd approach the microwave, and press five buttons one second apart, mimicking the end of the thirty minute session, and with not so much as a be back later, I'd be running down the street toward a cul-de-sac of activity.

But in between two rice paddies, around the age of twenty two, I discovered the wild noise and absurd worlds that existed inside me. By simply putting thoughts to paper, new universes of ideas came flowing forth. Each night, as I sank into these stories, I found a sense of relief in a new kind of silence: writing by hand. In the beginning, most were about the everyday, but I recall many faraway thoughts. I ran after each, even if it meant brushing up against a vanishing point. I didn't always make it back to where I began, but I also realized that wasn't the point. I was supposed to be, or perhaps get, lost. 

A decade later, my closet is the only one complaining about my now daily practice. The process itself is about processing, and during stretches of time when I am not handwriting enough, I feel the difference in my mind. The distraction, echoes, and pressures. They build up if I don't clean things out. There is continuity is all the connections: these kraft brown journals. I have a few that exhibit some decorations, but those are specifically journals I keep to write about writing. When I open up these covers, I walk inside an open. And in that undisclosed place, nothing has to make sense. 

Didn't we just discover a new planet? We're always discovering new planets. My telescope is just pointed in a different direction.