School Supply Shopping is Like Outlining, Go Figure

Posted: September 8, 2013 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

The school year is upon us. It’s been looming for awhile but now it’s official. The children have all gone back to school where they sit in desks and wish that they were anywhere but there. Even more telling is the fact that it is impossible to buy a notebook of the proper size and price. Clearly I should have thought ahead instead of waiting until today because I walked into Target like there would be nothing to it. They are the Mecca of all things school. Just a few weeks ago they were hocking their wares with box upon box of spiral-bound-bliss and cartons of crayons. At the time I reminisced about how much fun back-to-school shopping was when I was growing up. I still get way too excited about buying office supplies. In any case, that day I left without buying anything school supply related because, “Hey, I just work at a school. Everything I’ll need is either in my office or in my stockpile of partially used supplies. I need nothing.”


After the first week I realized I needed folders, the kind with the strip of interior brackets so you can make it into a fancy book-like thing. (Can I just say it took me longer to think of the word “strip” than it should of. Proof that a week of interpreting is deteriorating my ability to produce words. I sat here with my fingers describing what I was talking about as my brain said, “There’s a word for that? Why can’t I just insert a movie clip and be done with it?”) I looked at Costco. Nothing. They had a few notebooks but their folders were wiped out. I wasn’t about to buy something there just to go someplace else for the rest. I knew in my heart of hearts I would find it all at Target with ease.


I headed over to the school aisle only to find the shelves of paper products replaced by bag lunch goodies. Racks of pens were left bare (good thing I wasn’t looking for those). I lamented my luck that they weren’t there and hurried to the office supply aisle. Surely they were there.


They had the folders, and for $.50 I was doing a happy dance. But notebooks…they were nowhere to be found. Curses! Back to the school aisle I went and luckily came across some big thick ones that were on clearance. Yes! I wanted to do a happy dance. For sure, I knew the standard 70 page notebook wouldn’t be enough for the school year and I hate having multiple books for the same thing. Strangely enough, the envelopes were also wiped out. Maybe there’s a lot of moms telling their college students to write home once in a while. The only envelopes on the shelf were the fancy peel n’ stick kind (first world problems, I know), and the big BIG box of 150 normal ones. So I went big and went home.

The moral of the slightly off-topic story is that you should think ahead. If I’d thought just a little I would have scored the normal size notebooks for like… $.25 a piece instead of the big ones for $2. I could have saved time, perhaps money, and most certainly gas. Bringing it back into focus on writing: a little bit of outlining saves a lot of blood, sweat, and tears.

As I continue to plot and explore the world of my Grim Reaper story I came to a realization about Twelve, my prior NaNoWriMo tale: I need more conflict. I spent a lot of time during the first draft focusing on the main problem and the discoveries that lead them to be able to solve that overarching problem. It’s actually pretty boring, though, because there are no minor conflicts to carry things along. As I’ve plotted for the Grim Reaper story in accordance with The 90 Day Novel I thought out several events that create tension and conflicts during the second act in which “the hero suffers”.

Even though I’m letting Twelve rest a bit while I work on something else it drifted to mind as I did this and I realized my hero doesn’t suffer. There’s the big problem and they solve it. Boring. Armed with that knowledge I will once more go into the void and work towards recreating the wheel that is my story. The big pieces are in place but I need the interesting tidbits, the spice of life. It’s a lesson I needed to learn. I can’t just spring off the diving board without thinking of how I need to hit the water. This doesn’t mean surprises can’t happen or things can’t change, but stories aren’t always a straight line. There are twists and turns, and it’s my job to find where those twists happen and weave them into the story in a way that is interesting and dynamic.

May I also add that The 90 Day Novel has probably been the best piece of writing advice I’ve ever purchased? Grim Reaper started as a concept and the exercises inside the book has turned my concept into a story. In another few weeks I’ll be using the writing prompts and world building exercises as a platform I can dive off to write my story, hopefully creating as little problematic splashes as possible. I feel confident about the plotting and slowly but surely I’m learning more about the characters so I know a little bit more before I head off on the adventure of actually writing things down. Full disclosure: It will chronologically require more than 90 days to pull this off because I’m not writing on weekends and with school in session I’m not sure about the brain power I’ll have. However, every time I sit down with the notebook I do a day’s worth of activities and writing. Once I didn’t make it, but other than that I’ve sat down to work on it 15 days now. Fingers crossed, I’ll hit day 30 in the middle of October, perhaps even the end. Then, I sit down and write, the last 60 days worth taking me into January for a finished first draft. Not bad, actually, as it still decreases the overall time to 6 months instead of the year it took me with Twelve…which I still need to edit…grumble.

Posts around here I’m going to try to continue once per week. Fingers crossed it all works out. Happy School Year to those still attending, and for those who aren’t take a minute and decide if you’re happy about that fact or a bit nostalgic for the days when school was the worst of your worries.



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