If you know me in real life and/or you follow me on Twitter, you probably know I wrote a script during April for a little something [that took over my life] called Script Frenzy (scriptfrenzy.org).
What you may not know is that last Saturday, I printed it out.
Yes, that's right. Script. Printed.
I had no intention of doing this. But, at some point, between rushing home from work and running to comic book shops for Free Comic Book Day, it occurred to me that I was incapable of picking an excerpt to bring to the Wrap Party. What?! I couldn't miss Free Comic Book Day! And anyway -- I went to get Script Frenzy prizes! Okay, fine, you can add an "under the guise of" before the "get" and "ing" immediately after, but then you'd have to get rid of the "to" and that's just too much effort so you might as well leave it as is, since it pretty much leads to the first point anyway.
Point number one: I was rushed and/or lazy.
I decided I might as well print it all and decide what part would be read out... later. After all, why do now, what you can do in some other indeterminate point in time?
Point number two: I don't have a printer.
This isn't, strictly speaking, true. I have two printers, both in a box in my closet, both destroyed by vastly entertained felines. Their innards have been, well, not so innarded. Why are they in a box in my closet if they don't work? See previous point.
Point number three: I haven't printed anything out other than résumés since I graduated university where I wrote and printed more essays than I care to remember.
Essays are a different animal and are therefore not affected by this odd printing experience. And I'm not talking about résumés. You can't make me.
Point number four: Writing things in bold is fun! Whee!
No, really, this is an actual point. Some of my script more than resembles this point. The characters wonder if the author has reached 100 pages. The author tells the characters to stop talking to her and finish the scene. Print... that? Really?
The Rest of the Story:
So there I was, comic books-in-bag, listening to the printer making strange "I have a million ideas. They all point to certain death" noises, and watching a hundred and one pages spill out of the complaining printer.
Unexpectedly, a variety of emotions washed over me.
First, shock: I wrote all that? But there's so many pages? So... many... pages...
Then, panic: Oh my God. It's still printing. The pages. They're never going to stop. NEVER!
Some guilt. Can't forget the guilt. How many trees died in the making? Oh, no... There's someone else waiting for this printer, and she only has one page... *Apologetic glance*
But, after the guilt, and the shock, and panic, and other miscellaneous feelings passed, pride and glee took over. See that? I wrote it. All 101 pages. I printed, therefore it is!
Now, I've been writing since I knew how to write -- possibly earlier -- and yet, it's still hard to consider myself a Writer. Note the capital "W". Yes, okay, some of the stories of my youth involve a koala bear named Cuddles being smuggled into Canada because he was just too cute to leave in Australia. But, Cuddles not withstanding, if I found out right now that no one would ever read a single word of mine, I would keep writing because I don't know how to not write.
But... printing that which has been written by me? It just seems so... final. Once printed, it can't unexist.
Printing is a strange thing, and watching something I wrote being taken seriously by the printer (even a complaining printer) was a special event. It forced me to realize that I needed to trust and respect myself and my writing more. It proved to me that I had truly accomplished something. And, in a whisper that might have been my own, it said "Now go edit."
So... I'm off to find a Red Pen. I can't wait to plotify plot holes, re-write characters, cross out entire scenes, and underline sentences that trail off into...
My advice (you know, the thing you didn't ask for?) is this: when you doubt your inner Writer, print.
When you question whether your writing means anything, print.
When you think "What?! $10.60 to print something I wrote, that's sitting on my computer screen as I fish for my credit card?! Chihuahua! (I had written "Pshhhh!", but spellcheck insisted on changing it...) I could buy a real book/script by a real writer for that price!"... especially print.
It's worth it. You're worth it.
After all, when it's on your computer screen, it's there, and it's real, but when it's in your hand, printed in all its typo-y glory, it's really, really real.
P.S. Writing in Italics is fun! Whee!