Saturday, October 13, 2012


A decade ago I built a wall-sized bookshelf, floor to ceiling, of twenty-five shelves, upon which I
placed books I treasured: college textbooks from my undergraduate days and those from my Master's program - all lovingly marked and tabbed. Another shelf was reserved for the books on writing, dictionaries, thesauri, and references.  On the top shelves I have books lovingly inscribed by fellow authors and, below that, my brag shelves with all the publications I've appeared in (except the e-format ones, of course which are there, I suppose, virtually.) I have a set of books on sailing, on humor, gardening, birds, trees, and wildflowers, and another on wine.  On one bottom shelf I  have the printed drafts of my five or six (unsold and therefore unpublished) novels.  Worse, two shelves contain the books I have not yet read, magazines awaiting exploration, guides for future hikes and travels, and obscure references.  There are a lot of books despite the fact that I get rid of books once read - the library is very gracious about my contributions.

But the shelves also contain the sorts of things one accumulates over the years; souvenirs of trips, gifts from friends and family, small statuettes, an earth globe acquired for a story, framed pictures and awards, and a stereo I have not played for at least a year.  Of the books I could say the same. There are only one or two that I refer to when I have a plot problem, the thesaurus, and occasionally, the big book of quotations.  For the rest, they are merely decoration.  The internet has replaced most of the reference material, the reference books are mostly out of date, and the college texts have languished untouched for years and the decorations serve no useful purpose. The entire wall is superfluous to any rational analysis.

Yet, there is a great comfort as I write in knowing that material is sitting there, close at hand for the marginally small possibility that I might someday need to find a bit of material for a story, a character, or a setting.

It is reassuring.

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