If God is a tree, I'm in trouble.
I realized this the other day when I printed out yet another few chapters of my latest manuscript. You see, I've printed out these chapters before . . . many times before. But every iteration demands better editing and changes, so many changes.
My office is full of old paper, too. Up until this year, I carried around things I'd written thirty-plus years ago. I'm not talking about the stuff of legend, brilliant versions of potential books that scholars and librarians might want when I'm nothing more than dust. No. This stuff was just baggage: old term papers, that snippet I'd penned while waiting for a cup of coffee in a now defunct restaurant in Ann Arbor, the address on the back of a napkin of a long-forgotten lover.
In addition to my own piles of insignifance, I'd kept magazines with articles about how to get published that were so old email wasn't even mentioned. There were references to agents who've been dead for decades.
On my no-Internet Thursdays, I've begun to tackle these useless relics. The joy I get when I toss that paper into the recycling bin has been wondrous. Even more pleasurable is the shredding. I LOVE shredding! My little machine has growled its way through reams and reams — more than three industrial size garbage bags — of surplus verbiage.
I'm tossing out many of the current magazines and newsletters I receive as well. The only one I keep consistently is from Novelists, Inc. and that one comes via email anyway. I'm more careful about what I print out from the internet, too. Alex Sokoloff is responsible for destroying a couple of trees because I now have her entire Murderati series about writing in a binder on my bookshelf. (Though the pines may not thank you, Alex, I do!!).
Other than that, I'm being mighty selective about what has access to my office real estate. Sorry, The Economist, you're toast after I've read you. See ya round, New Yorker.
Another paper saving measure: I now call all the nonprofits we donate to that market via snailmail. I ask them to send only one notification/request for funding annually. This means we don't want their newsletters or magazines either — just that one reminder. I decided to make this request because some orgs send so much mail it starts to feel like badgering. We stopped giving to Smile Train because of it. The same goes for National Geographic and The Smithsonian. If the nonprofits' databases can't handle the once-a-year approach; we don't donate to them any more.
And don't tell me we can opt for email contact. It's just as obnoxious (even though paper is no longer the issue).
I often call advertisers and ask not to be included on any of their lists. I don't want to know about their special offers or bargains. No, thank you. You're just cluttering up my mailbox and life with crappola.(Which is why I opt-out of almost all email contact of this sort too.)
When I consistently get something from these businesses after making the request to be left alone, I take what they've sent me — along with the other junkmail I've received — and stuff those postage-paid envelopes to the brim and send them right back. (Of course I strip all personal info off the printed materials.)
This second solution is extremely childish.
It's also incredibly satisfying!
In spite of my efforts, the deforestation continues.
Alas and alack . . .
I continue to print out multiple versions of WIPs for editing. I learned years ago that I can see mistakes and feel the flow of my prose better when I'm looking at hard copy.
So, God, if you're a redwood, please forgive me.
I am trying. I really am.
What about you?
Are you a packrat?
Have you developed methods to cut the clutter?
Do you have a pet peeve as far as orgs/businesses that send you unrequested information via snail mail?
Are you a hard copy or eletronic editor for your WIPs?