How to write

When I was around eight years old I knew I was going to be a writer. I knew it because I filled composition notebooks with my signature, over and over. My author’s autograph. I seem to remember my parents being unhappy with the wasted paper. But the whole thing is probably a fantasy, a writerly-coming of age fable.

Four thousand years ago, students in Middle Kingdom Egypt had their own composition notebooks made of papyrus.

It would be whitewashed with gesso and reused over and over again. Found in the Metropolitan Museum, this practice hieroglyph shows birds, eyes, feathers, goblets – or is that my imagination? What do you read in this writing? What story does this schoolchild tell?

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