Write a novel; destroy a planet

Paper stack

You see that? That’s me destroying the planet, that is. That stack represents all the paper used by one draft of my novel. That’s only one draft, mark you. No, it’s not a doorstop novel either. That stack holds an editing copy for me, another copy for beta reading, and returned submission material. I reckon there’s a nice thick cross-section of tree trunk in that pile – and it’s just one of many.

Is there any remedy to my proclivity for planetary destruction?

“Buy a Kindle for editing – it would save paper,” my eco-conscience cries.
“New trees can be grown,” retorts I. “Paper can be recycled. Besides, I kinda like the idea that my toilet roll might have been an old worthless draft of my novel!”
“The Kindle is eco-friendly,” my eco-conscience tries. “It has a non-toxic screen, and is low power.”
“What about the toxic battery and plastic case? And any power it uses is CO2 you ain’t getting back!”

But would I even use a Kindle for editing? No. Until it comes with a stylus that allows me to scribble on the page in multiple colours, draw smilies, pen insults to myself, and connect lines drawn between pages, then it just doesn’t have the kind of flexbility that I need when editing.

Sometimes we writers are beaten over the head by the amount of paper we use (which in my case would leave me concussed).

The writers among you might notice that the top page of my stack is not printed as the standard double-spaced single page editing format. For my personal edit copies, I prefer to print two pages per A4 sheet. Why? Is it to save paper and save the planet? No. I find it easier to edit text which is laid out as a final novel. I just sense better what writing works and what doesn’t if I’m reading it as a book. I think it’s a psychological (not an ecological) thing; if I feel I’m reading my words in a printed book, I’m less inclined to let myself away with anything sloppy. You know – something that I might cringe at years later if I saw it in one of my published books.

“My published books” – sigh – well, a guy can dream.

Can that day ever come, I ask myself, if I continue to destroy the planet with my accursed words?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some recycling to do.

2 comments December 3rd, 2008


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