Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Binder Fetish

I know I'm destined to be a writer because I have a major jones for office supplies, which, I've learned, is a common trait amongst us word hounds. For a long time, I just thought I was weird to get all excited over the prospect of back to school shopping or a trip to Staples. Then I discovered the writer blogosphere and found out I am not a lone in my twisted addiction. Thank god.

I'm not so bad that I wander in a mindless bliss up and down the rows of Office Depot, but come back to school time, there is no way I'd order the pre-packed box offered by my kids' school to save me trips to every discount store in the area in search of Ticonderoga brand #2 pencils. I love - love, love, LOVE - picking out new folders and notebooks and erasers and scissors and glue and packs of college-ruled loose-leaf notebook paper. I get kind of giddy just thinking about it. After 4th of July, when the stores begin putting out the BTS displays, I feel like it's Christmas time.

I see that some writers have particular favorite items, such as pens. I do appreciate a good pen; the pens my husband's company uses are my all time favorite, and I'm always nagging him to steal a fresh supply. The advent of gel pens has been a real boon for me, since I'm not a big fan of ballpoint, preferring felt-tip, except you could never get a sharp enough line with a felt-tip pen, so they were never any good for writing. With gel pens, you get the best of both worlds. Not to mention the rainbow array of colors.

But pens aren't my weakness. No, my office supply fetish is for notebooks. I adore notebooks. I love the big, thick, multi-subject ones with pocket dividers that allow me to organize my thoughts into categories. I love the tiny, spiral-ring notebooks I can tuck in a bag or a purse so I always have something to write on within easy reach. I get weak in the knees over the funky, fun covers so much more interesting than the standard maroon, navy blue, or hunter green that were the only choices back in my school days. I'll pick the neon pinks and bright yellows any day. Once, my husband picked me up a shrink-wrapped gross of notebooks from Costco, and I still think it's the most romantic gift he's ever given me.

My love of notebooks extends to binders as well. Again, I go for the ones with wacky designs. And I'm not a big fan of the super-fat binders, with the two or three-inch rings. I prefer the slim designs that don't look as if they were meant to hold reams of pin-feed dot-matrix computer paper. If the binder comes equipped with a plastic sleeve on the spine where I can slip in a title or subject card, all the better.

Imagine my glee this afternoon when I was cruising the Walmart aisles, my shopping list for hairspray and kleenex firmly in hand with no intention of straying, and I happened upon rows and rows of binders shelved not in the office supply aisle but in the overstock section. They were - wait for it - On Sale!! Both full size and miniaturized fun and funky binders, each of them only $1.25. With the matching divider tabs a mere $.25 per pack.

I literally had to restrain myself from filling my shopping cart to the top. With much pride in my supreme self-control, I kept my binder binge to a reasonable three of the little ones, four of the big ones. With two sets of dividers per binder. And, honest, I don't plan to go back. Really, I promise.

Besides (I say, my ability to rationalize anything a trait I value above all others), these will come in handy. I like to have a binder (and a notebook) for each new story idea. And we all know how many of those I have floating around, in need of organizing. It's not like these new beauties will sit around growing stale with disuse.

Plus, I look at empty binders and blank notebook pages as freshly tilled earth, just waiting to be planted. If they are there, I will fill them. What a shame it would be if I were struck by the Perfect Idea, the one that will become The Greatest American Novel Of All Time, only to have it slip away for lack of a binder in which I could have jotted all of my thoughts before they disappeared into the black void of my brain.

My biggest problem now is storage space. I'm running out of room for my notebooks and binders.

Have I ever mentioned how much I just love shelves?


Maura said...

You know, things are suddenly becoming much clearer....

I wondered for years if I could be a writer, if I was cut out for it.

But now I know - I AM a writer!

I share your fetish for office supplies. I could probably stock at least a convenience store, if not several aisles of a discount store.

I lust after new pens and pencils, the freshly purchased and yet unopened box of folders. The organizational opportunities of the desk accessories....

It is all clear now - my fetish for office supplies is merely my inner writer attempting to make itself known in any way possible!

I feel so much better now that I know I'm not alone!

Kayla said...

I love Office Depot. And Staples. And cruising the notebook section of Borders...

Mechanical pencils are my guilty pleasure. .05 mm, stainless steel... Ooo lala. You'd never think hanging out in an office supply store could resemble so much like near paradise. (Now if only they supplied novels and Starbucks!)

Anonymous said...

I really dislike ballpoint pens too -- I used to practice calligraphy when I was a teen, so I like that tactile resistance from a pen point when I write. Pilot Razor Point plastic-tipped pens come in black and in packs of colored ones, and college-ruled legal-sized lined pads ... just to die for. I even go to Office Depot, which is much more difficult to get to than the local Staples, to pick them up, because when I make notes I write in black and then when I have inspirations I go back and write between the lines in colors.

I also have so many unopened packages of Post-it notes I'll probably wind up mentioning them in my will (assuming I ever get around to making one).

I have loved blank pads of paper and pens since about the age of 12 -- I get the very same drooly look as my boyfriend does when he's wandering around hardware stores!

MaryF said...

LOL, I can relate! I love the binders with the clear covers that you can slip a title page in. And pictures of your characters. I have shelves of the buggers in my office. I also love colored post-its. And highlighters. And index cards. And pens. And cute little notebooks.

Alyssa Avant said...

We are kindred spirits. I have a major binder fetish and have TONS of them and love buying more. You should see my shelves of them and then the stack of them on top of my filing cabinet. I have always had this fixation. Guess what else we have in common?? I'm a writer! Must be true!