Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A Writer's Best Friend

They say that total immersion is the best way to learn a language and what is writing but the purest expression of any language?  If a writer truly wishes to hone their craft, then what better way to learn the craft than by immersing themselves in the black and white of text on paper?  Libraries are a writer's best friend.  There is something magical about writing in a library.  Before the internet, before search engines, before Q&A sites and major online information hubs, there was the library and that is where a writer would go to learn what kind of weapon their character might use, to learn the laws that their bad guy might break, to learn of the clothing worn in Victorian England, and to find inspiration on every shelf.  Lately, my cohort and I have been frequenting our local library not only to borrow books, movies, and music, but also to get some writing done.  Surrounded by thousands upon thousands of novels, periodicals, picture books, and reference materials I was finally able to clear my head and concentrate enough to write out the entire outline of my grad school admittance essay.  It is a few drafts of polishing away from ready.  

The best part of writing in a library is that you are never short of information or inspiration whether your aim be nonfiction, fiction, poetry, or research paper.  There is joy in wandering the aisles and taking in the sheer magnitude of words and lives behind those words.  And if you have an idea of what you're looking for, you can seek inspiration in a more direct way.  If your character is a fly fisherman, Mr. Dewey Decimal can help you find detailed books on the subject.  If your character reads nothing but Agatha Christie, you might browse the mystery section and put yourself in your character's shoes as you gaze upon the myriad of Marples and Poirots lining the shelves.  I browsed the catalog today in hopes of finding inspiration directly relating to the craft of writing and found a variety of books, some of which came home with me.  These look incredibly promising for anyone writing mystery, murder or mayhem: 

Cause of Death 
Deadly Doses 

These are the ones I ended up borrowing today.  So far I am extremely impressed and inspired by 'The Pocket Muse.'  I will be sharing some of the ideas contained within this book but I recommend everyone take a gander at it for themselves.  Dani has shared a variety of information and prompts from Natalie Goldberg's book, 'Writing Down the Bones,' and I have been so impressed and excited by what I've seen that I couldn't leave it there on the shelf once I found it.

The Pocket Muse 
Writing Down the Bones 

Finally I would like to propose a challenge.  I challenge you (contributors and readers) to spend some time this week in a library.  Perhaps you have some time set aside specifically for writing. Why not spend that time in place where authors are immortalized, remembered, and born?  Even if you don't go there to write, take a stroll through your public library and just see what kind of treasures you stumble upon.

Amanda LaFantasie (Skoora) © 2012


  1. I love these reference books. I have most of the "Who Done It" series, and have used them for several works. And the thing about libraries is that you can usually find the information you are looking for, in print, in an older book, without having to cross reference everything. Research through the internet is all well and good, but you have to sift through so much bogus information and still have to hit the library for what you are looking for.

    1. Agreed! The older published books are much more trustworthy in my opinion. And then you have the benefit of tactile learning because you're involving more than your eyes, you are involving your hands and your body and it is proven that when you engage your body in some way (i.e. kneeling) while learning or memorizing, you will absorb it better and for a longer period of time. So walking about the library with your nose in a book is a very good thing indeed!

  2. Challenge accepted and meet wrote two pages at the library and brought home like sevens books