I picked up the pen and looked at the plain sheet of paper lying in front of me. It was getting dark. I turned on the study lamp, too lazy to get up and flick on the tube light. The glow from the little bulb made the paper seem yellow. I sighed. I cracked my knuckles; the sound strangely satisfying. I noticed the cracks that seemed to have made unattractive designs on my wooden table. I rested my head on the neck of the chair and tried to think about the task at hand. Instead, I noticed that the ceiling was cracked and needed re-painting.
I jerked my head up and closed my eyes, exhausted from the agony of not being able to decide. Is this even real? I opened my laptop and checked the email again. Ah, It’s still there. I had half expected the mail to have disappeared. I opened it and read it again. Have you felt a mix of extremely contrasting emotions at the same time? Well, that was exactly how I felt. I was elated to be a part of that project and scared shit of the unknown.
I got up and I couldn’t feel my legs. I made my way to the kitchen, stopping after every two steps to shake my leg in the attempt to kill the tingling sensation. I made myself some tea, still thinking about the email. Toying the pen with my right hand, I carried my big, hot cup of tea back to the table. I opened my journal and flipped through the idea log while sipping the tea, absent-mindedly. The ideas had seemed so exciting before. They looked dull and boring now. I closed the journal and kept it in the bottom drawer, clearly frustrated.
Do I want to do this? Yes. Totally. Not even a shred of doubt? Of course not. I was offended by my own question. Why do you want to be a part of this project? Because I am a writer and it’s an amazing opportunity. Are you sure you want to do it? Shut up. Shut up. Why are you unsure? What the fuck! Because, no one is going to read it. At least not for the next 100 years. Not even my husband can read it. Nor can my friends. Is the book good? Is it terrible? Is it relatable? Is it a I-can’t-keep-it-down-until-I-am-finished kind of a book? I would know nothing. I would die without knowing the future of my book.
So, why do you want to do it?
I looked at the copy of Atlas Shrugged lying on my bed-stand. I picked it up and opened it. Would I have loved reading it after a 100 years? Of course. What is it that keeps the words of writers alive even after centuries? Are readers all the same? Do people not change at all even after a hundred years? I imagined the era of 2114 to be the time of complete robotisation. Books would probably be a luxury that no one can afford. Or, maybe none that would prefer. I shuddered.
But the whole point behind the project is to keep the books alive, isn’t it? Just like me, Katie Paterson is probably scared that art in the physical form would vanish altogether. Maybe the increase in deforestation would lead to a scarcity of papyrus. No paper, no books. Imagine a world without the smell of books, the ruffle of pages, without the feel of a hard-bound book! How can one not be a part of the future that keeps books alive?
I was shaking. I was so excited and nervous. I hadn’t figured out what I was going to write about. I had no idea I was going to write another novel. But I was sure someone, somewhere was going to read it in 2114. My book was going to be a secret manuscript. I dreaded the fact that no one living was going to read it. But, I felt so light. This was going to be the book I would write only for myself. No burden of the masses, no burden of the publicity, no changing of plot to suit the publisher and no sleepless nights worrying about the reaction.
I opened the mail again.
It is with great pleasure that we invite you to be a part of the ‘Framtidsbiblioteker’- the Future Library Project. We will be honoured to have you as our writer of 2017. However, as per the terms of this project, we expect and ensure the discretion of the manuscript. No living person can read your manuscript. The book will be a limited edition and is going to be published in 2114. It will be printed on the paper made from the forest of Norway, 100 years from now….
Happy tears clouded my eyes. I picked up the pen. My body would turn to dust but my words were going to be immortalised and untouched. What else does a writer desire?