A Story in the Snow

Shelly Jackson snow story

Photograph by Shelly Jackson

One of the things I love most about writing is the variety of forms it can take. From being carved into stone, to stamped on paper by a printing press, to tattooed on the skin, there are so many mediums through which writing can be expressed. And each of these mediums affects how the story is read, who it is read by, and what it feels like. Author and illustrator Shelley Jackson has embraced the endless possibilities of the written word by taking storytelling to the snowy streets of Brooklyn.

Jackson has carefully and beautifully inscribed each word of an ongoing story into the snow on streets, sidewalks, trees, doorsteps, and more. After experimenting with writing on the snow with maple syrup and soy sauce, Jackson decided to keep it simple and carve each letter based on typeface courier. It’s the perfect choice of type for this transient medium, as each word looks like it is was lightly printed into the snow by an old typewriter. She posts a photo of each word on her Flickr and Instagram accounts, creating a serial story that is only updated with each snowfall.

Jackson said to The Guardian that she wanted to write in the snow because “it’s white like a page” and she likes “the tension between the meaning of the word and its physical presence.” Just imagine running into one of these words while walking in the park, or exiting your front door! Each word is placed at a specific time and place; in a way making the story’s parts more important than their sum.

At the moment, Jackson is unsure whether she will finish the story before the last snow melts, or what she will do with the images once winter is over. Compiling a book, creating a time-lapse film, or just leaving the images as an online archive are all options. But for now, the process of creating the story is more important than the end result.

“Let the story precipitate,” Jackson said. “Let it pile up softly like a snowdrift.”

You can find the story on Jackson’s Flickr and Instagram accounts (if viewing on Instagram, make sure to start from bottom and move up).

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