Sunday, August 30, 2009

What Would You Take?

This weekend, my husband and I had the unsettling experience of coming home from a weekend in the Bay Area to find a huge grass fire in our brittle, dry foothill community and that an evacuation was in effect. We were grateful that our home was not affected and that the evacuation had been cancelled for our section of town, but I naturally began to take stock of what I would pile into the car in such an evacuation, if I had the time. Pets (need another cat carrier!), baby books & photos, important papers, heirlooms, computer, flashdrive, WIP...the list goes on.

If I had only a smidgen of room left in our vehicle, what three writing books would I take? What are the three books I couldn't do without (not including favorite fiction)? There were many that I would hate to lose, but I finally narrowed it down to these three:

1. 100,000 Baby Names by Bruce Lansky. Most useful to me is the listing of popular names by decade, but it has many other listings and, well, 100,000 names to chose from for my characters.

2. The Synonym Finder by J.I. Rodale. It is extemely comprehensive, written in a dictionary style, and the thesaurus that always delivers. When asked what stumped him in the rewrite of A Farewell to Arms, Hemingway answered, "Getting the words right." I wonder what thesaurus he used? Hm...

3. Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle. "And for each one of us there is a special gift, the way in which we may best serve and please the Lord whose love is so overflowing." (page 70). Her insights inspire and refresh me in times of discouragement by reminding me that my art is a gift from God and that He will equip me to use it.

So, now that the fire planes are just a hum in the distance, I think I will keep these three books stacked beside my desk within easy reach, just in case - at least until fire season is over.

What are the three most helpful books that you would stack by the door in the event of a quick getaway?


Carla Gade said...

Problem is, my most precious writing books that I would have to grab are my own WIP's which are mostly handwritten in notebooks. I desperately need to solve this problem and get them in my computer with a back up.

I need my Bible for writing, but that's a given since I would already be rescuing that.

1) The Curious Lore of Precious Stones by Fredrick Kunz - my almost a hundred year old reference is a treasure trove of informatin and inspiration for a series that I have been working on for years.

2) Writing the Christian Romance by Gail Gaymer Martin

3) On Writing Romance: How to Craft a Novel That Sells by Leigh Michaels

The internet is where I where I research my baby names, synonyms, and everthing else. I do have a couple of other antique books I use for historical research on decorum and entertainment. I'd squeeze those in if I could.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

As a result of this wake-up call, I think I will get a tub for my WIP research that's big enough for books and documents. It will keep me better organized, too.

Keli Gwyn said...

Debbie, I'm so glad your house was spared. When I saw the news last night with all those lovely homes gone, tears filled my eyes. I feel for those who've suffered such loss. (We live in Placerville.)

I use an off-site backup service so that if our house were to burn, I'd not lose my stories.

Kathleen Popa said...

Wow, Debbie, what a moment that must have been! Glad your house is safe.

The first book I thought of was Walking on Water by Madeleine L'Engle. The next book was Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury. Those two represent, for me, the first tier of indispensability.

The third book wasn't so easy to choose, since there are many, many books that occupy the second tier. But since you chose a names book, I'll go with The Writer's Digest Character Naming Soucebook by Sherrilyn Kenyon. It will help you put names - first and last - to your Korean Characters, or your German characters, or your characters born in 1934. It's a great resource.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

It was close between 'Zen' and Madeleine's book. My copy of Ray Bradbury's book is pretty dog-eared, so I would spend the money on a new copy.

Lori Benton said...

I haven't read some of the books others have listed (just reserved Zen in the Art of Writing from my library). Let's see, three books....

Ok. They would be 1. The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass, 2. English Through the Ages, by William Brohaugh, 3. The SCOTS Thesaurus (because I can't seem to stop writing Scottish characters.).