by Karen Ball
Have you ever wondered what books are sitting on your editor’s desk? What titles fellow writers refer to over and over? What new gems your agent has discovered? Well, I thought I’d share some of my tried-and-true “friends” with you, along with some that I’m just getting to know.
First, let me confess that my desk is a disaster. At least, that’s how it looks to anyone who comes in. Books and papers are scattered here and there in towering piles. My husband comes in and just shakes his head. But you know what? I’m comfortable with the piles. I call it “organized chaos,” because I know which pile holds what, so I can find what I need with a modicum of searching. I know that the pile to my immediate left is my program installation disks, flanked on one side by a pile of nonfiction books I want to read, and on the other side stand the books I want to tell you about today. These are some of the oldest “friends” who have lived on my desk in my home office as well as in my offices at Tyndale, Multnomah, and Zondervan…
Streams in the Desert, a devotional I’ve read every year since 2001. Powerful words of truth in those pages.
Two Dictionaries: Webster’s Collegiate and Webster’s Unabridged. Yes, I use an online dictionary, but sometimes I just want to turn pages. Besides, I love the words you come across you’re looking for something!
And then there’s the pile of writing books. These are a combination of time-tested favorites and new books waiting to be examined:
- Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King. This book has been a standard on my desk since I first discovered it back in the 90s.
- Writing Magic by Gail Carson Levine. This is one I haven’t explored yet, but it’s waiting.
- Fiction First Aid by Raymond Obstfeld. Helps you triage your manuscript and apply what the doctor orders!
- First Draft in 30 Days by Karen S. Weisner. I think I keep this book on my desk because I want to believe it’s possible to do what Weisner says…
- Advice to Writers by Jon Winokur. As the front sales copy says, “A compendium of quotes, anecdotes, and writerly wisdom from a dazzling array of literary lights.” GREAT fun! For example: “Having been unpopular in high school is not just cause for publication” Fran Lebowitz. And “”You do not create a style. You work and develop yourself; a style is an emanation from your own being” Katharine Ann Porter.
- The Art & Craft of Fiction: A Practitioner’s Manual by Victoria Mixon. I just discovered this one last fall, and it’s become a favorite.
- The Pocket Muse: Endless Inspiration by Monica Wood. This is a great little book to get you jump-started on those days when your mind is as blank as the screen you’re staring at. Um…at which you’re staring. Whatever. Grammar books come next week! Along with word books.
So…who lives on your desk? What writing books inhabit your world, bringing you comfort , wisdom, or clarity as you write?
Share with us all, so we can decide which new friends we want to bring home!