Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Eco-friendly discoveries, secrets and... an admission - Linda Strachan

I have to admit that I am not always the best recycler. 
I do try... most of the time... honestly.    But to my shame, I have to admit that the odd poly-bag or tin, which I could recycle and normally do, will sometimes end up chucked in the bin.  When my children come to visit I have found myself waiting until they are out of the room before I dispose of ..whatever it is - so that they don't see and reproach me for it!  They are so good at recycling - I must have brought them up well, I suppose.

The one thing I am great at recycling is paper. 
I like to write on my computer but I find I also have to print out chapters, and sometimes entire books, to read away from the computer screen.  I'm not quite sure why, but I can see the entire book clearer in my head when I read it on paper and I often spot mistakes in the text more easily when it is printed out, rather than reading it on screen.  
I also like to make notes on the text - not just when working on a picture book, as in the picture opposite - and I often draw lines to indicate where text should move to or what I want to cross out (and sometimes write back in again). I couldn't easily do all that on a computer and it feels right working like that.
I wonder if it is part of the creative process, similar to the way that I prefer to write on the computer than by hand. It's just the way it works for me.

So I use a lot of paper.  

 I have just realised that it is 16 years since 1996 when my first series of books were published.  In that time I have written more than the 60 books that have been published, because there are all those finished and half written short stories and novels, which linger in the cupboard never likely to see the light of day.  In most cases they never should!  I have mentioned these before in a post I wrote a while back

Now I have to admit to being a bit of a hoarder, and even discounting the final versions of the published books, which I keep for sentimental reasons, there are many boxes of discarded versions and unfinished work that remain.  I know it is ridiculous and I should throw them away, especially as most of them are also saved in electronic form but...

So every now and then I do a cull and weed out some of the manuscripts and various versions of unpublished stories putting them all to one side, but I don't throw them away because paper that is printed on only one side is perfectly reusable,

as long as it is not crumpled, like this, and likely to stick in my printer!

I put all this used paper in the empty box my printer paper originally came in, and it is ready to use again.   Also, when I am sent papers in the post, or any sheets of paper that are not confidential, I place in this box so that I can use it to print out what I am writing, or recipes I want to use, or any other of a hundred things that don't need to be printed on a fresh piece of paper.

Now I know this is not unusual, I am sure many of you may do this -  but recently I was about to throw away one of these sheets which I had reused when I turned it over and started reading the story printed on the other side.  This has now happened several times and I have enjoyed dipping in, a bit of a lucky dip, not quite knowing what I would read next.  The paper had been mixed up when I cleared it out, so it is in no particular order.

One word of warning to all happy paper recyclers.  Do make sure that you check before you pass on to other people anything printed on recycled papers.  Make sure there is nothing confidential or worse, embarrassing, written on the other side!  

I recall sending a manuscript to an agent once, many years ago, and when I got it back I came across a piece of paper with a scribbled note on it.  I discovered it was a message his assistant had left for him, about a dental appointment, which I imagine may have been put down on his desk and picked up with the manuscript.  

Now this seemed innocuous enough at first except that the scribbled note was on the back of a letter which had quite a lot of fascinating and financial information about a deal he was negotiating on behalf of one of his clients. 

Don't ask me more, my lips are sealed - but recyclers BEWARE!


Linda Strachan is the award winning author of the Hamish McHaggis series, YA novels Spider and Dead Boy Talking and writing handbook Writing for Children
Blog Bookwords


adele said...

I do this..print out drafts of my books on old paper. I will be extra vigilant from now on. There is less paper to use these days as I have S-L-O-W-E-D down a bit! Interesting post, Linda!

Effie said...

I use recycled paper too. I once printed out everything but now only do it when I want to edit a story etc. I have a huge pile of paper waiting to be recycled. But yes, it is important to check because I once sent out a story to a magazine. It came back, rejected, and I cringed with embarrassment to discover I hadn't used fresh, new paper but some old stories and naff poetry that really were rubbish. No wonder it was rejected!

Penny Dolan said...

Must be January! Trying to sort through stacks of old papers here too - and the rest! - but sadly the printer here seems designed to choke on pre-printed sheets unless they are fed in individually.

Am sure there must be lots of stories like Effie's! And lots of rather amused editors too.