We have a paper problem in our house. My 5-year-old loves to draw and write and make maps. He likes nothing better than to write and illustrate stories (often resembling the Magic Treehouse series). But this requires paper. Volumes of paper. The paper then gets strewn about the house. Paper covering the kitchen table, the kitchen island, the floor, the coffee table in the living room. I tried asking, as he came into my office to retrieve what appeared to be a huge stack of printer paper, “don’t you already have some paper you could use?”
“But mommy,” he said, “I have to write a book.”
The Magic Treehouse books are, indeed, 70 pages, and that’s what he planned to use. I’ve been pondering my own initial reaction: stop wasting so much paper. I write for a living and yet I almost never print anything out. Paperless offices are nearly possible these days. I’ve learned to mostly edit on the screen, and even though I often can see something new when I print and use a pen for edits, it seems like a waste to print just for that reason. Better, I think, since I can tread lightly, to do so.
Thinking back, when I was my son’s age, I drew and wrote too. But since my father wrote many of his manuscripts in the days before ubiquitous personal computers, he had to type his work (i.e., on a typewriter). This produced copious scrap/scratch paper which was always there for the taking. I didn’t really know it was possible to draw on paper that didn’t have something in Hebrew, potentially related to the Book of Jubilees, on the back of it until I stopped drawing for fun. It seemed a strange idea: did other families actually buy paper for their kids to draw on?
I don’t produce scratch (scrap?) paper, so my son uses the printer paper we have. I’ve realized I shouldn’t make a big deal of it, as long as he fills the paper and draws on both sides. After all, there are thousands of printed copies of my various books out there, a level of dead tree usage that dwarfs the sheer volume of artistic output that’s covering my coffee table right now. Let she who is without sin cast the first stone (which will then, as in the game of Rock-Paper-Scissors, be buried in the piles of paper around here).
Photo courtesy flickr user jepoirrier