Thursday, August 03, 2017

7 Writing Resources Within My Reach

When I was an eleven year old schoolgirl, a harsh winter roared through the woodlands for weeks. Our class was assigned was to write about the season in which we found ourselves embedded. I quietly delved in, scratching blue Script ink with a cartridge pen, forming words on Foolscap. 

Days earlier I'd discovered there were better words than the ones I was familiar with and I set out to use them to write A Walk In Winter.

In the cubby of my desk was a thesaurus. When classes had resumed in the new year after a two-week holiday break, each of the thirty-four students had been given a small saddle-stitched paperback treasure trove of words. I didn't know if we were allowed to use a thesaurus for our winter writing assignment, didn't ask permission, and went ahead, discretely flipping pages for alternate words. 

Between flips I'd slide the blue-covered booklet back into my desk, a rigid wooden one-piece chair and writing surface combo with a hole for an ink bottle and a gully for pens.
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Good use of words was written in red at the bottom of my paper when it was returned. I knew why, wondered if I'd cheated somehow, and decided I had not. What I had done was discover and make good use of a resource as valuable as the dictionary and speller that were also within reach.

Today I have 7 resources at arm's length.

There are seven dictionaries in a row of books on the shelf above my desk. One's French and one is Spanish, much-used, tattered and taped together after living in the glove box of Terran Cruiser when I drove from Canada to Paraguay

Then there's the 21st Century Spelling Dictionary and The Official Scrabble Dictionary and two Blackfoot dictionaries acquired when I was attending classes at the Friendship Centre

The seventh is Funk & Wagnalls. It has expansive definitions, graphs and charts. Leather finger tabs with guild letters give it the aura of an encyclopedia. 

2—Style Guides
21st Manual of Style and The Canadian Press Stylebook—16th edition. I first started referring to style guides in my position as production coordinator.

Spell It Right! (Barnes & Noble 1969) and the 1993 edition of Write Right! I proofread portions of the first edition before it went to press. 

4—Thesauruses or Thesauri (the sore eye)
Doubleday Roget's 1977, from my proofreading days in Toronto is shelved next to Funk & Wagnalls 1947 that was my father's. They've  not lost their value. 

5—Grammar Guides
The title Dr. Grammar's Writes From Wrongs has more appeal than its contents.

6—Figures of Speech
Figures of Speech is a guide through epizeuxis, hendiadys, polyptonon and other rhetoric, and is as entertaining as it is useful for detecting an enallage.

Easy access; endless information. 
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