I’m taking a creative writing course this semester. It’s cool in some respects, but not cool in others, and the not cool part for me is the fact that every week we have an hour and a half lecture during which I learn approximately nothing.
To be fair, this is not entirely the fault of the professor/class. I’ve taken a fair few creative writing courses in my college career. I also started writing when I was five. I also spend/have spent a lot of time talking to writers and publishing industry people about writing. So while I’m sure that for people with different experiences, this lecture is engaging and productive, for me it means 90 minutes of spacing out, writing notes to myself, and staring blankly at the weekly handout while my equally-bored friend doodles on her notebook beside me.
(Sometimes we pass each other snarky notes, but that’s beside the point.)
Recently, I decided I needed to take matters into my own hands. This is my last semester of college, dammit. I want to get something out of this. I talked the matter over with my creative writing tutor (whom I very much like); she was sympathetic and suggested a few ways I could maybe make use of the lecture period, but also acknowledged I might just have to suck it up the rest of the time. I appreciated the input, but it was still a pretty bleak outlook. I thanked her for her suggestions.
And as soon as my meeting with her was over, I went to Barnes & Noble to buy myself a freaking writing notebook.
It makes me sad that I need to do this. At the same time, it’s really the only solution I can find that gives me any sense of satisfaction. If I have to sit in that lecture hall listening to professorial pontifications for an hour and a half each week, at least I’ll spend that time writing. Writing fiction. Writing something that I might actually be able to use.
But purchasing a writing notebook isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. I didn’t know what I was looking for, exactly. I had envisioned grabbing a simple, spiral-bound notebook, but every such notebook I found in the bookstore looked so…flimsy. And the sturdier ones were pointlessly pricier. I didn’t need one with my college’s name embossed on it. I didn’t need one for five subjects. I didn’t need one with graph paper.
Then I saw it.
You know how it happens: You’re in a store (usually a bookstore) and something just leaps off the shelf at you and cries, “ME! You came here to get ME, didn’t you?” In my case, the leaping object was a “Decomposition Notebook”—based on the old composition notebook style, but made from recycled paper, its charming cover printed with bees and honeycomb. There were lots of other composition notebooks like it, but this was the one. My notebook. It was so obvious.
I frowned at the price tag. Did I really need to pay $6 for this thing when I could easily get a comparable notebook for less than half that price? It wasn’t like $6 was going to break my bank account or anything, but still, that was two cups of chai right there. Why did this notebook need to be special anyways? Wasn’t I just going to scribble all over it?
I hemmed and hawed, but time was running out, and I had to get to class. Deciding that it didn’t really matter what notebook I had and that I could spend the extra $3 on chai, I put down my notebook and picked up one of the flimsy spiral-bound ones. I trotted up to the counter, fumbling in my bag for my debit card.
“Sorry, can you move to the next window down?” the cashier said, just as I’d pulled out my wallet and opened it.
“Oh. Uh, sure.” I started to close up my wallet again when my attention was snagged by the pocket I use to keep gift cards. And what should I see but a Barnes & Noble gift card, on which I happened to have about $8 remaining.
Fate. Providence. The Universe loves me. I spun about, dashed down the stairs, swapped out the flimsy thing for my notebook, and bounded back up, gift card in hand. I was going to get that notebook AND have chai to go with it.
And thus it was that I got the perfect writing notebook to use in my not-so-perfect writing class. I’m breaking it in today by picking up my 2012 NaNovel where I left off. Hopefully, I’ll get something new and interesting on the page.
Boo freaking yeah.