Paper Trail

I believe I've mentioned before that for each draft of a manuscript I like to edit once on the computer, then print it out and edit a paper copy. I have mentioned that, right? Haven't I? ANSWER ME, GODDAMN IT! I WILL EAT YOUR CHILDREN!

Whoops, sorry. I forget that that was supposed to be rhetorical question and that you and I weren't sitting in a room together, drinking tea. I've had a head cold for three days and last night I had a dream I coughed so hard I tore my own throat open. Luckily, my cat seems not to care if I'm sick or not and treats me exactly the same. No pity in the feline world! It's kitten scratch kitten out there!

But I digress. I like to edit actual printouts as much as possible. I've had the same Samsung ML-1710 laser printer since 2002. It prints approximately 3,000 pages per laser toner cartridge, which used to cost about $75 but have come down lately and can be purchased on the internet for about $30 if you shop around. I've printed various drafts of eight novels on this small but effective printer, not to mention many short stories, grad school essays, and google maps. I don't have any official records of this, but it seems like I've purchased one cartridge a year, so that means this printer has chucked out about, shit, 27,000 pages. Wait, is that possible? Nine years times 3,000...Jesus Christ. I need to go outside more often. And I should probably clean my printer for once, or at least throw it a good party.

Jesting aside, I think editing an actual printed-paper document is irreplaceable. Something happens between reading a document on a screen and reading it in your hands-just today I crossed out about every other sentence on a page I'd computer edited at least five times. It's like your words have nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide. They're just out there, naked and immobile, like Brett Favre in the pocket (that football reference is just for you, Noah).

So print your shit, yo! Leave a long paper trail, good writers of the world, and when the editorial cops come busting through your literary door, let them have it with both barrels, laughing crazily, because you've been down this road before.


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