A couple of weeks ago I finished writing my fictional blog. My critique partner sent it back to me and to go over her notes, I printed it out. It had been a long time since I’d printed one of my stories. I finished my novel over a month ago but I haven’t done the honors yet, so that makes it…my first novel in September 2009. As I watched the pages curl out of the printer, I was amazed at how much I’d written. 70 pages, exactly. I felt a huge sense of pride as I held my blood, sweat, and tears in my hands. It got me thinking–why don’t I do this more often?
Okay, okay, there’s the environment thing, which admittedly, is a concern. But I want to propose the argument that writers are using less paper than ever now. Remember the times when you had to rewrite an entire page every time you misspelled a single word or the loop on your “e” wasn’t big enough so it looked too much like a “c” and the more you tried to fix it, the darker it got until it was the only letter on the page you could see? How many pages did you throw away for that reason alone?
People used to hand write all of their stories, in notebooks and journals and on those yellow legal pads. It wasn’t convenient and rewrites must have been hell but there had to have been something supremely satisfying about watching the pages pile up, stacking the notebooks in the corner and having a visual reminder of how much you’ve accomplished. Now we just close up our laptops, tuck them away, and go over tomorrow’s to-do list, without realizing how much we’ve already gotten done. Out of sight, out of mind.
I think it’s time we start printing again. Not necessarily for every draft or every little change, but maybe as you plug away at that first draft, and the months pass by, and you wonder why you’re still doing it after all this time, it might be a good time to print out your work. Look at how much you’ve done. Look at what you’ve already achieved. Hell, throw it on your bed and roll around in it. Put it in your mom’s lap the next time she asks, “So what do you do with all that free time of yours, anyway?”
Humanitarians will hate me for this so here’s my public service announcement: recycle. You can do it yourself by printing on the back of old documents or, just throw that inked up rough draft in the recycle bin when you’re done.
My writing service announcement: writers work their asses off and often don’t get as much credit as they deserve (not even from ourselves). Give yourself the gift of seeing your name in print, the reminder that your words aren’t lost in the sea of your hard drive, the totem of all your hard work.