Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Staples and my inner secretary

Rather to my own surprise, my Amazing Scene Plotting Plan appears to be working.  Although I don’t really have much of a sense of how I’m going to write each scene yet, making myself stop and consider exactly what the characters are wearing or how they feel has been much more useful than I imagined.  True I have to keep going back and rewriting my list of scenes drawn up from the outline, but I’m telling myself that’s the point.  I’m sketching out the details of one scene and an idea for the next pops up.  Already I am a long way from my original plan.

I have made so much progress that I have a rapidly growing pile of pages of completed notes for each scene.  Clearly, this meant I needed a special ring binder to put them in, and a trip to Staples was justified – hurrah! 

In fact, today’s haul was relatively restrained: as well as that file for the scene notes, I came out with a goose-shit green coloured ring binder (for mythical research notes, I thought), two packs of pens, colour-coded punch pockets (not sure what I can possibly code, but still), padded envelopes for posting out books (no book out until November, but they won’t go off), two ink cartridges (on special offer, rude not to) and a pack of different coloured plastic document envelopes which I am sure will be terrifically useful, and the fact that I already have one for my passport is neither here nor there.

I love stationery stores.  Invariably I go in needing one thing, and emerge laden with inessentials like this.  Stripy paper clips.  Fluorescent files.  Multi-coloured file pockets.  Dinky clear plastic boxes.  Bulk supplies of sticky tape. Funky metal in-trays.  Fat marker pens.  Highlighters!  I even found myself contemplating a Dora the Explorer lunch box today.

When I’m in Staples, my inner secretary blossoms and I imagine a perfectly organised office, where everything is carefully labelled and colour-coded.  I get quite sulky when I realise that I really have no use for a staple gun or one of those machines that makes labels, and therefore cannot justify either as an expense against tax.  I was actually a very efficient secretary and I sometimes wonder if I should have carried on as an administrator.  Ironically, at home my office is a tip.  Every time I come to the end of a project, I vow to reorganise my study, but somehow the task is too daunting and I never get beyond clearing my desk, feat enough in itself. 

For now I am ignoring the mess around me and will spend a happy few minutes punching holes in my scene notes and ordering them in their smart new file.  A top time-wasting exercise, but it feels like work.  Of course, the time will come when the file is full, and then what will I do?  Oh, yes, then I’ll have to start writing …


  1. Sounds familiar! I was also a secretary in my previous life (before children) and was pretty good at the organising. Home life? Kids activities? Chaos. My favourite item of stationery is the fat A5 hardbacked spiral bound notebooks with pretty covers. The spiral is useful for sticking my favourite Pilot ink pen into. Happy writing!

  2. Very familiar. I, too, was a senior secretary with superb organisational skills that I have no transferred to my own office. And I love buying stationery in all it's forms. The paperclips in the shape of musical clefs are my favourite.

    Sadly, having cleared out fifteen years of files in preparation for the move, I have dozens of ring binders to spare, so can't justify buying any more of the kitty ones they sell in Tesco.

  3. Ooh, music shaped paper clips ... I would be a sucker for those. Can't bear to think of the work involved in clearing out an office, Liz. What a task! But you must feel thoroughly detoxed now, don't you? And of course, there will be a NEW office for you to equip soon, I hope.

    I wonder how many of us were secretaries? Such good training on the typing front. I like the idea of your fat notebooks, Alexandra. Might have to invest in a few for by the bed. Hhhmmnn, maybe I need to pop back to Staples ...

  4. >Of course, the time will come when the file is full, and then what will I do?

    Go shopping for another one, of course. And the music shaped paper clips, and fat notebooks...oh, and colour-coded post-it notes (my favourite).

    Yes, another secretary in a former life and disorganised mess at home.

  5. Highlighters!!! Love me a stationary store. It's like visiting Santa's workshop!

    I for one am very glad you didn't carry on as an administrator :) Happy hole punching!

  6. Thanks, Lacey. My new file looks very smart, albeit still a bit thin. Too much time hole punching and not enough time writing the notes.

    And yes, colourful post-it notes, Claire! My research books bristle with them. Every time I come across something interesting, I slap one in to mark the place. Trouble is, when I go back, there are so many post it notes sprouting from the edges, I've got no way of knowing which marks the place I wanted. One of these days I must actually work out a proper code rather than just admiring the pretty colours.