I used to think the saying was “you can’t see the forest through the trees.” I still like this version, even though I now know it’s incorrect.
Why do I like it? Because seeing through the trees sounds more magical to me. Like instead of focusing on the minutia you are just imagining all of the little things are transparent.
The correct saying, I’m told, is “you can’t see the forest for the trees.” Which sounds uppity somehow. It leads me to thinking that it should be “you can’t see the forest because of the trees,” but that doesn’t work either, since “because of” implies you are looking at the trees rather than looking for the forest. Right?
Anyway, any way you choose to say it, it means someone is failing to grasp a whole concept because of they are bogged down in the details.
So, today I’ll simply post my daily drawing—which is, coincidentally, of leaves—and move on.
Over the weekend, I saw a play. It was the stage version of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Since I enjoyed it and hadn’t read the book before, I decided to go to the source.
While the stage version is true to the book (so far, I haven’t finished it yet), there are shifts. Omissions.
“Chapters in books are usually given the cardinal numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and so on. But I have decided to give my chapters prime numbers 2, 3, 5, 7, 11, 13 and so on because I like prime numbers."
Those are the first two sentences of one of the book’s sections, by the character’s count, chapter 19. So, as a reader, by this point you’ve already noticed his shift in numbering. Yet the explanation gives us more insight into the mind of the storyteller. He orders things and understands information in a way that is unconventional.
While the love of prime numbers is included in the play, this structure of using them to chapter a book isn't. It’s a static visual printed on a page. But this information could have been included. It was a decision. Yet to me, it feels key. It rings a bell of importance.
Don’t get me wrong, the script worked. I recommend the play. But contrasting the play to the book has me thinking (again) about editing. And I mean that in the largest reach of what it means to edit.
Yes, when I talk about editing I'm talking about what I leave in and take out of a document when I am writing for clients, but I'm also talking about how we make daily choices.
What we choose to see and record. What aspects of each story matter to us.
Seeing one version of a work next to another is another reminder for me that each story you see (or read, or hear) isn’t the whole story. With a combination of inquisitiveness and research, you’ll always find there is more.
The takeaway? For me, it’s to keep looking and keep questioning. Which just happens to be true for the protagonist of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, too.
One year, I took a suitcase of books on vacation. A 10-day vacation. So, of course most of those books did not get read. If I had thought about it logically, I would have known there wasn’t enough time before I headed to the airport.
But I think I simply wanted them with me.
That same pull, for a stack of books that I can pick and choose from, is still my preferred method for ingesting facts and fictions. I like touching each page. Making notes in the margins. Using bits of paper as bookmarks.
I like their weight. The number of pages, the ongoing string of words. Thinking about the writer working on each page. The readers who read the first draft…I imagine the book at that point as printed pages held together with a binder clip. Then, a designer working on the cover and the design files going to press.
I think I process what I read differently when it’s printed, too. I’m currently reading The Silence of the Girls and working on a design project yesterday I found myself tucking the font into folds of fabric, just as I saw on the cover. Realizing the connection, I could almost feel my fingers on the pages, hear the story being told in my mind. Even though I was, actually, siting at a computer staring at Photoshop.
Yes, e-books have me on convenience. They are much easier to carry than a suitcase of books. Yet a screen delivers a variety of things. It is ongoing, uploaded and changing.
A book delivers one story.
Of course, the book will change too, but the change isn’t happening to the elements that have already been designed, approved, and sent to delivery. The book will age. If there is a coffee spill, it will be seen immediately. Or it will sit on a bookshelf, aging slowly. Daily. And the meanings of the words will be shifting too, because we are changing, and as time moves society will view the words from a new perspective.
I love printed books because they hold my memories of reading them, and as I scan my bookshelf I have mementos from different times, period of interests.
A lot have gone, been given away or sold, but I’ve kept the gems. Some were gifts. In some cases, I’m still close to those people. Others not.
Is there a better way? A cheaper way? Maybe. But it doesn’t matter. Because when you love something, you love it. That love is all yours.
And as it says on page 124 of The Silence of the Girls, “If any man love the instruments of any craft, the gods have called him.”
And that love is mine to tumble into. It’s not about logic, convenience, or budgets.
So, I’ll keep buying hardcopies. And if you love e-books, I salute you on your choice too. The stories are what matter. The stories pull us all forward.
Mali Anderson is a Chicago-based content creator. She creates blog posts, web copy, original photography, and feature articles.