This week I realised that I am in one of the most destructive stages of the writing process. The initial flow of thoughts and ideas through the keyboard to the computer is quite harmless to everything except my brain. Now, as I begin to re-read, re-write and re-think, I am contributing to the world’s demise.
I have spent this week printing out chapters, reading and editing them with a big coloured pen. Again and again my little printer (lovely gift from Father Christmas!) has churned out drafts which I pored over, questioning everything from sentence structure to grammar to readability. Adjustments made, it goes through again.
At some point I have to join these chapters together into a coherent whole: the paper munching at that point will be staggering.
And as I print on reams of paper, trees are being chopped down to satisfy my need. Rainforests are being destroyed. Habitats are being lost forever. The hole in the ozone layer is growing. Greenhouse gases are building up and strange weather patterns are afflicting our earth. It is the end of the world as we know it, and it is all my fault.*
The conscience ameliorating part is that I am gradually working my way through the box of scrap paper. The old printer only had pristine A4 in it (for reasons too long and boring to explain) and various drafts of In the Shade of the Mulberry Tree went through it. The new printer is eating the scrap, and an excellent diet it appears to be.
Writing a book is a difficult enough task without additional guilt laid upon me. Any suggestions for saving the rainforests?
*To be fair, coal-burning power stations in China may be having a greater impact.
It’s so hard to know the right balance between being green and necessary paper-usage. A good way to edit without the paper consumption could be to use Word’s “Track Changes”. Here’s a link to Microsoft’s overview of it and how it works. http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/word-help/track-changes-while-you-edit-HA001218690.aspx
Thank you. I’ve never found ‘Track changes’ particularly easy for editing – there is something about a red ink pen on my work that emboldens me to change things, and also terrifies me into correcting them. Both teacher and pupil wrapped into one!