Paper or megabytes?
Are you a techy or does paper still thrill you?
Its a lot bigger question than I’d first thought.
I’m a paper fiend. But then, I’m a list maker. When I have a list to accomplish, I’ll do it diligently to see it grow smaller. Most times. Paper reminders help me channel my ADD to work for me instead of against. I own the fact that I can screw off like nobody’s business if I don’t have routine. Yes, sometimes that’s exactly what people need. But I get greedy and keep it up longer than I should.
‘Writers are allowed to waste paper.’ That’s a quote from Anne LaMotte during a workshop I was fortunate to attend over 15 years ago. It was marvelous moment when an accomplished writer gave permission to write every wild thought down, even if you knew you weren’t going to use it. It wasn’t the paper thing, but a nudge to explore further than I had. A nugget of an idea suddenly grows to the premise, from there, story, characters, etc. Ann scribbled notes on index cards. She said it gave her more room to flesh out an idea a bit instead of a few words that months later, would make absolutely no sense.
I use 4 X 6 blank index cards. I bet I go through 500 in under 3 months. I love neon ones too. But oddly, I’m judicious when I use them. As if they are for the really good plot points.
In the world of wasting paper, I don’t print chapters on the back of old print outs for the simple reason that when I edit, the notes for furthering the scenes are on the back. Once I ran the LRWA Jasmine contest and a writer sent a submission printed on the back of only work. As a professional writer, this is very bad form. I let it slid because she obviously didn’t know it was unacceptable for a contest. For any submission, anywhere, any time should be your best work; properly edited and on unmarred paper. its not the place to be frugal.
I felt angry I had to explain this when this person wanted to be in my profession yet did not bother to learn the basic rules. Yes in presentation, there are rules. Just as there are when you appear for a workshop or a book signing, or as a guest. Dress appropriately, speak clearly, try not to embarrass yourself and above all, thank your host and the attendants. They are the readers first. When I see otherwise at a professional conference, I want to ask, who raised you not to put your best foot forward in public?
But I digress.
I also love my technology. I can type fast, but I transpose letters frequently. If I were on a typewriter, the retyping for a clean manuscript would slow production. I’m also impatient so it would likely just ended writing for a living early on. I’d still be a hair stylist (in my mind I hear hair dresser) standing on my feet all day instead of sitting for equally long hours on my rear.
I need to edit that ‘hard copy.’ Marking it up and improving the work gives me a little high and for me, seeing it printed gives a different look and feel creatively as well. The white space, readability, the pace and tension of the story are elements that come into play with how it looks on the page. Besides, no one will be reading it in any other way. Whether you are seeing the story from within technology, or go the ancient route of printed on paper, I can guarantee the writer thought a lot about how their words looked on a page.
I sure do.
Heck. I’ve edited this short bit three times and that doesn’t include the editing I do while I’m typing.
So… I’m a paper fiend who needs a word processor. But you know, when all else fails I can still create a story with just pen and paper.