Friday Speak Out: Writing Goes Green, Guest Post by Joanne DeMaio

Friday, June 12, 2009
Writing Goes Green

by Joanne DeMaio

Reduce. Reuse. Recycle. We’ve heard the mantra; we’ve seen the recycling symbol, three arrows comprising a circle. Going Green has never been so in vogue as we incorporate it into our lifestyles. Yes, even the writing life.

When I’d first started writing, a common credo in the manuals and how-to books was “Write what you know.” The concept draws upon our experiences, our ideas, our lives, giving plenty of fuel to our words. And so I did. After turning forty, I noticed friends and acquaintances who, turning the corner on that milestone birthday, celebrated with girls’ weekends out. Most of these involved trips to Manhattan, with a Broadway show, dinners, shopping, manicures. Together they celebrated a new chapter in life.

So I wrote what I knew. My fiction manuscript utilizes a Manhattan girls’ weekend out as the story’s springboard, taking off from there. After completing that manuscript, the Recycling process began … Reduce. Oh did I reduce. Manuscript revisions resulted in the elimination of several thousand words. Not a one went to waste. Each word had an efficient function in moving the story forward. Author Joyce Carol Oates says that “The daunting task for the writer is: what to include? what to exclude?” I’ve gotten reducing down to an art form.

My writing continued Going Green as I moved to the second step … Reuse. The essence of my story explores keeping our passions alive. It’s important to have our heart’s desire central in our days. I wrote this at a time when I was doing the same in my own life, trying to make writing central. Eventually, I’d penned a complete manuscript. Like my main character, I had finally become what I’d dreamt of being—a writer.

Talk about efficient Reuse. My words informed my character, and they informed me as I simultaneously explored our journeys. Our dreams became reality in sync. My words did double duty!

And now it’s time to Recycle. I’ll take what the writing process has taught me and share it with you.

Yes, write what you know. Then take it further. Write what you dream, what you wonder, what you long for. Through your stories and your characters, find your heart, discover your purpose. If it’s gardens or home or photography or horses, let your writing lead you there.

Reduce through revision. Reuse your passion simultaneously on the page and in your life. Make your characters’ triumphs, successes and journey parallel your own. Then Recycle, sharing the outcome with others.

Keep your writing green.

Joanne DeMaio is a published writer with freelance credits that include The Hartford Courant as well as literary journals. She maintains Whole Latte Life, a blog about living a full, choice life, keeping your passions close, and the rewards of doing so. Joanne lives with her family in Connecticut.


Would you like to participate in Friday "Speak Out!"? Email your short posts (under 500 words) about women and writing to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration. We look forward to hearing from you!



Krymzen Hall said...

Great insight!! Thank you for sharing...

Anonymous said...

Great post, never thought of recycling as it applies to writing. I like how you "reused" your character's triumphs and made them your own. We are the creators of our own destinies!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing Joanne. Great advice. I never thought of my writing as "going green". It's a great thing.

Joanne said...

Krymzen - Glad you enjoyed it.

Science Sisters - I like that, creators of our own destinies, with a little character recycling help.

Ang - Thanks, Ang. It's amazing how this concept is so relevant.

Relyn Lawson said...

What an incredible analogy. I'd like to borrow it, break it down to easier bits, and use it with my second grade students. It's perfect.

Unknown said...

That was wonderful! I really like how the Reduce, Reuse and Recycle theme was applied to the creative process. Brilliant!

Small Footprints

Joanne said...

Relyn - I'd be very pleased for you to bring this concept into the classroom. Let me know how it goes!

Small Footprints - I'm so glad you enjoyed it, the parallels were fun to explore.

Janice Lynne Lundy said...

What a pleasure to read this well crafted piece! As a "green girl" myself, I welcome your fresh perspective on recycling, especially in our line of "work." Really well done, my friend. I appreciate how you encourage us ever onward. Kudos...

Susan Blake said...

What a delightfully inspiring way to approach a subject that heretofore had me cringing (editing, cutting, agonizing!) - only YOU could write this so well, Joanne! Fabulous!

Joanne said...

Jan - Thanks. Write on!

Suzen - Glad you liked the contemporary spin on writing.

Cheryl Wright said...

This is a grand post Joanne. Ingenious. Interesting take on writing going green.

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