Foer's collection of blank sheets of writing paper started by accident: a friend was sorting Isaac Bashevis Singer's belonging for a university archive, and gave the uppermost sheet of Singer's stack of unused typing paper to Foer. The sheet became a mystic writing pad for Foer, a mirror for writing, and the collection followed.
But I was wrong about the empty page. Or I was wrong about myself. A relationship developed. I found myself thinking about the piece of paper, being moved by it, taking it out of its envelope several times a day, wanting to see it. I had the page framed and put it on my living room wall. Many of the breaks I took from looking at my own empty paper were spent looking at Singer's.
Looking at what? There were too many things to look at. There were the phantom words that Singer hadn't actually written and would never write, the arrangements of ink that would have turned the most common of all objects--the empty page--into the most valuable: a great work of art. The blank sheet of paper was at once empty and infinite. [...]
And it was also a mirror. As a young writer--I was then contemplating how to move forward after my first effort--I felt so enthusiastically and agonizingly aware of the blank pages in front of me. How could I fill them? Did I even want to fill them? Was I becoming a writer because I wanted to become a writer or because I was becoming a writer? I stared into the empty pages day after day, looking, like Narcissus, for myself.
I decided to expand my collection. Singer's paper was not enough, just as Singer's books would not be enough in a library, even if they were your favorites. I wanted to see how other pieces of paper would speak to Singer's and to one another, how the physical differences among them would echo the writers. I wanted to see if the accumulation of emptiness would be greater than the sum of its parts. So I began writing letters to authors--all of whom I admired, only one or two of whom I had ever corresponded with--asking for the next sheet of paper that he or she would have written on.
(from 'Emptiness' in Playboy Jan 2004. Update, 2008: the original link above points to what is now, perhaps appropriately, a blank page, and the only other one I can find with the full text is here.)
More how we work.