Writing Life Perks

I just finished printing out the fourth draft of my current WIP: 376 pages. 103 000 words. Yay! It’s a beautiful thing to be going into the final trim/polish, and I aim to start submitting partials and queries mid-August. As I behold the stack of paper, a warm glowy feeling comes over me and settles in my belly. But it’s not what you think.

At this point, with my brain a muddle from many a late night, it isn’t accomplishment that has me so pleased. Or the fact that this latest novel’s in a genre that made me think while writing, This is it. This is _my_ kind of story. It’s not thankfulness, gratitude or awe that by writing, I get to explore myself and the world around me, that I get to live in an imaginary world, or that what happens next is as unlimited as imagination. No, nothing like that.

It’s purely the stack of paper itself that transports me to bliss. Its glorious weight. Its crisp edges. Its lovely brightness. And the fact that I’m now the proud owner of a state of the art “one press” Staples’ three-hole-punch. Yep, the gorgeous holes decorating the side of the manuscript were done by me. With ease. I am a sucker for (what I still call) school supplies: Sharpie markers, pens, pencil crayons, glue sticks, tape dispensers, stickers, corkboard, push pins, paper clips, staplers, electric pencil sharpeners (and small metal ones), doughy white erasers, and best of all, paper. Loose-leaf, graphing, three-hole-punched, card stock, manilla . . . any name, weight or colour you can imagine, I love it all.

A few years ago, before Terrace had a huge Staples outlet, my family and I visited the Staples in Williams Lake. Before we were even fully in the store (we’d just cleared the front doors and were about to go through the silver turnstiles), my daughter put a hand on my arm to hold me back. Slightly concerned, I did as prompted, stopped walking, looked down at her. Her eyes were closed, she took in a deep, deep breathe, then exhaled. “Oh, I just love that smell!” she said, then raced ahead. Oh yes, the aroma of stationary and office supplies. I DO love it–and I thrilled to her words. While my son and husband just kind of looked like we were nuts, I was thinking, Oh yay, it’s genetic!

So yes, though really what I love best about writing has nothing (much) to do with the supplies it involves, I can’t help but wonder if my passion for ink and all that goes with it isn’t part of the reason I fell to writing . . . or was it (is it) my passion for stories that led to such a freakish appreciation for the items that help bring those words to life? I don’t know. It’s a chicken or the egg question, and in some ways it doesn’t matter. Soon I’ll start polishing, but for today (inhale!) I’ll just enjoy the freshly printed pages.

10 thoughts on “Writing Life Perks

  1. I love “school supplies” too, but I like Speedies better than Staples.
    I have a question:
    Is your mind already moving on to the next book? I read something from Henry Miller once where he said that by the time he was doing a tour with a book he was bored with it and didn’t even want to talk about it anymore because his passion was all tied up in the next one. I know as I reach the completion of a painting I am bored with it, want to get it done and get on with something more interesting/challenging. Maybe that’s just because I am slow. It’s one of the reasons I don’t usually have more than one painting on the go at a time. I’m scared I would never finish anything. We’ll see. I have 3 on the go right now. weird.

  2. Dear Noreen,

    >>>>Is your mind already moving on to the next book?<<<

    Good question! Yes, I’m being inundated with weird snippets and images that have no apparent rhyme or reason, so I figure a new story is stirring.

    I'm not bored of my stories once they're absolutely finished (I _like_ talking about published work :)), but there's definitely a phase in the editing process where I'm sick-to-death of the current story and yeah, just want to start something new. I'm very mean and don't let myself (well, sometimes just a _short_ one) though, for exactly the reason you expressed: "I'm scared I would never finish anything." I often have multiple non-fiction projects on the go, but can only have one novel in the works along with.

    You will finish all your paintings (and kudos on three in the works!), no worries. After all, you have to: you're having your own show!

  3. There are a few places that really bring out the consumer in me – and a Staples is one of them. I really do need all those things on the shelves. Then there’s the art supply store down the street with the heavier card stock and the calligraphic pens. And speaking of pens, did you know there’s a store downtown devoted entirely to pens?

    And you’re right on about the smell. I’m sure that there is some kind of chemical released in my brain when I walk into a stationery store, bookstore, or library – or when I crack open a fresh package of printer paper.

  4. Ahhhh yes!

    There is no feeling quite like that created by that wondrous pile of paper. But can it be just the paper itself? I wonder….

    While I am another of these folks who have always taken great satisfaction from the marvellous composite odour that greets my nose when I enter any store selling stationery, I have a reason to wonder.

    I have one of those paper mounds of my own; hundreds of pages, and close to 100,000 words upon those sheets. And while I have great appreciation for any high-quality paper stock, this paper stack elicits the strongest of emotions from me. Not because of accomplishment, nor anything as old-fashioned as satisfaction from hard work. No. It’s excitement: I have a treasure. And to me, it’s more valuable than a chest full of doubloons – because any old pirate can wantonly pillage until he fills a chest, but how many of those scoundrels ever took the time to dig up their own precious minerals, and then designed and minted their own coins, and then buffed and polished and buffed again, until those brilliant golden coins were ready for general circulation?

    I know your chicken versus egg question was rhetorical, but as a fan of your writing, I am compelled to put forth an answer anyway: it’s the writing, always the writing.

    Certainly those double-weight brilliant white rectangular pieces of interconnected cellulose fibres will always elicit pleasure, as you say – what a great perk! But for me, most of that pleasure lies in the great potential those blank sheets hold.

    Let us know how your queries progress. I am hoping to see many more of your polished coins soon!

  5. Laura, we were SO excited when Staples came to town. πŸ˜€ Noreen is right though; Speedees is fantastic . . . come to think of it, I’m hard pressed to name a stationary store I don’t love. πŸ˜‰

  6. Dear Kevin,

    What a WONDERFUL reply. I loved it and am so glad you felt compelled to put forth an answer. You are absolutely right: it _is_ the writing, always–and the potential of the blank page is awesome stuff, indeed.

    Thank you very much for the hope re: my polished coins. πŸ˜€ I had a bit of nice news when I was away on holidays actually; I sold a short sci-fi story to AlienSkin magazine, so that’s pretty exciting. I’ll post the link when it’s up.

    p.s. Sorry it took me so long to reply to this. I was away and catching up on everything in my life took a bit.

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