Why I’ll Always Edit a Hard Copy
Technology is amazing. Just today, someone emailed me a PDF that I printed, signed, scanned, uploaded and emailed back. I can communicate with my boyfriend in the other office of the house or my publisher across the country with the same amount of effort. The world is changing, and it is truly remarkable.
But despite that, despite the capacity to write a story on a dozen different devices and applications, I will always print my manuscripts.
Is it expensive – yeah. It wasn’t so bad in the beginning, but when I started writing full-length novels, the cost of printing got a lot higher. Is it time-consuming, obviously – but the editing process on this creative child of mine should be time-consuming. Is it environmentally friendly – eh, I reuse the back of every page for outlines or marketing so it could be worse, but no, it’s not exactly a green lifestyle choice.
But it is necessary.
Computers are wonderful for a lot of reasons, and in more ways than we can count, they make our lives easier. They’re just, kind of difficult to see.
Now, I know there are screen adaptations and specialized lenses available to make reading on screens a little more human-eye friendly. And, full disclosure, I have terrible eyesight. Like, hold the book two inches from my face to read, eyesight. So this probably isn’t true for everyone. But when I edit on my computer, I miss things – all the time.
I’m not a scientist, so I don’t know why it is that the digital version of the exact same manuscript is far more cunning with its edits.
All I know is, when I sit my ass in the chair with a red pen in my hand, I’m a lot more likely to spot spelling errors, misused words, inconsistencies and lack of sentence structure variation. And, because of that, it’s worth the extra time and money, because the end goal with editing my manuscript isn’t to be as fast as possible, it’s to get the best book possible.
And, sometimes, that just means going low tech.
But I think that’s kind of neat. There’s a sort of timeless quality about editing with a red pen, late into the night, edges of the manuscript bumping up against cold tea as your neck creaks and aches.
Because media is changing – has changed. The way we watch the news or read our books or search for answers to research questions is a world apart from where it used to be – and in a lot of ways, that’s scary.
But while all that has changed, with ebooks and Amazon and the whole wide world of interactive media, the stories themselves have not. We are still telling tall tales of love and adventure and romance. We are still making people cry, laugh, feel frightened or joyful. Stories, in their truest form, haven’t changed, just the media we use to tell them. And I like the reminder of that timeless feeling, that I am not different from those who slaved over their own manuscripts late into the night, be it a decade or a millennium ago.
It doesn’t just make me a better editor, to print my manuscript. It’s so much more than that. My little red pen and those very real paper pages are a physical reminder of the bond between writers throughout time, and damn if that doesn’t make you feel like you’re part of something important.
Don’t worry, I draw the line at vellum.♦