A couple of years ago, I set out to create a “medieval” manuscript. As with all good journeys, I had no idea where this one would lead. I did not expect to become enthralled by the process of bookbinding.
As a writer, I make books, in the sense of putting words together to form book-length stories, but the process of actually creating physical books completely won me over. There is a slow, quiet magic to it. It is in many respects not unlike planting seeds, a magic that has always spoken to me. When you plant a seed, place it in its furrow, cover it with earth and blessings, you understand that that seed will never be seen again. Nor will it die or vanish–it will transform into something else, something impossibly more, something with the power to take the sun’s light and transform it into energy.
There are secrets in the physicality of books, things that, like seeds, are necessary yet forever hidden. There is a beauty to the spine of an unbound book. Something about it appeals to me deeply. Beneath cover and cloth, beneath layered paper, there are careful stitches in a pattern, forever hidden.
I think about magic perhaps a tetch more than the average forty-one-year-old human. I think about it more and more the older I get. So this manuscript project is a grimoire, a spellbook, though it’s meant to be not so much a collection of spells (do I even know any spells??) as a collection of things that strike me as magical–the alchemy of herbs, minerals, the seasons, the wheeling and gyring of the cycles of the year and the heavens. Things like this:
I spend a lot of time querying and submitting my writing, and it is deeply healing to have creative projects like this that exist simply for my own satisfaction and delight–that help me mark the magic of my days.