Plot is Character Revealed By Action


I am nearing one month in the challenge! The most interesting thing I’ve been noticing is how although I’m only tracking clothing, tea, and soap purchases, all of my actions are getting the Life During Wartime scrutiny — hence the Aristotle in the title. Forgive me! He featured largely in my readings for class I did last night. But think about it — is this not only true in Poetics but in Life ? Is how you do anything, how you do everything (to fast forward this general concept over two thousand years and make it a heck of a lot more selfhelpynewagey, but I digress)?

This theory seems to be true for me as I prepared for my class this semester. I am taking a graduate class in Research Methods in Composition and Literacy. I not only have three major texts to read, but a tower of scholarly articles. I also need to keep a research question log.

I have access to two university libraries, and was able to find two out of three of my major texts in free ebook form (yeah!). I’m one of those old skool people who need to print scholarly articles and annotate the heck out of them to help understand them (plus I like to bring them to class and I don’t carry my laptop with me. I take public transport and have a long walk from the train to home and that thing gets heavy!), so I printed them on the other side of last semester’s articles that didn’t get too much wear and tear. This is working superbly!


I also need to keep a research question log. I was going to pick up a moleskine, but then I remembered that I had learned how to make sewn chapbooks and still had some linen thread, the special needles, and the awl to make the sewing holes. I grabbed the fancy card stock that my acceptance packet to the university came in to make the cover, used some cheerful colored paper I had laying around for inside the book, and within five minutes I had a research question log! (Bonus: now I’m thinking about all kinds of interesting little books I can make with lino block stamped covers and handmade paper and all kinds of wonderment!)


My class also runs pretty late, and I’m going to need to do something to keep my stomach from growling without spending loads of money and creating tons of take away waste in the process. I’ll eat a large, late lunch brought from home at work, and I will also be dusting off my beverage thermos so I can take a nice 16 oz container of tea with me to class. I also am going to make a quick bread each week and take a hearty slice in my Seriously Safe Stainless Steel food carrier to eat during the break. This week I made a maple pumpkin hazelnut loaf. We had some last night, and it’s delicious. Much better in all ways than a dash to the campus Starbucks for cardboard flavored tea and one slice of pumpkin bread that costs as much as it takes for me to make an entire loaf.

…and to get back to clothing, soap, and tea coupon expenditure? I have not spent a single solitary coupon. I think this is going to change this week because we are getting very low on hand washing soap and very close to having no bath soap. More when I decide how to solve that problem using the least coupons in the kindest to the earth way I can manage.

(images: 1. Poetics chart from a book review on A Preliminary Poetics by Michael Mateas 2. My cat Woody examines the stitching I did on my research log. 3. The super yummy maple pumpkin hazelnut loaf!)


  1. I love this post & hearing about the spill-over/waterfall effect. It really doesn’t matter what the hook is; I find once you look with new eyes, this approach creeps into every aspect of life.

    I’m often asked by friends “which is worse: leaving the lights on in an empty room or having the heating several degrees higher than necessary”. My reply is always: “why would you do either, if you aware of the waste…?” It is not always possible to change everything immediately but incrementally we can develop new habits…

    1. Yes! Even though water/plastic is not part of this project per se, I just convinced my workplace to ditch the water bottle delivery we use, and get a water filter (we already do this at home). The idea of recycling not really being a solution, but rather the idea of not supporting the creation of things that will be useful for a moment and then need to be recycled being the goal (if we’re lucky — I heard that much of what we put to recycle is never even recycled) — I only started to deeply understand that within participating this project. (so thank you — again 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s