I am an avowed literary preservationist. I read and I preserve. I don’t happen to feel the need to leave footprints or thoughts in the books. Being that I’ll read a copy of a beloved book until the pages literally fall out, I like being able to form different reactions and thoughts each time I pick up a story. That works well for fiction but what about non-fiction or reference books?
I’ve been reading a lot on marginalia. Not only on Steve Leveen’s blog on Levenger, but also in different reference books on effective study practices. Remember the 80’s or 90’s movie on women in the FBI? I can’t remember the name of it now, but one part always stuck with me. The one woman was teaching another how to study the textbooks including highlighters, flags, and colored paperclips. I don’t remember much from the movie but that – highlight, flag, paperclip.
I have a ton of reference books based on literary endeavors, religion, psychology, and art creation and history. Even though this is only about 50 or so books, it probably is a literal ton in weight. Around 10 are in continual use. The rest I have to hunt for when I need them.
Now that it’s NaNo time, I need nuggets of wisdom (highlight) – not a leisurely stroll through interesting facts. I’m sure anyone who has attempted NaNo knows what I mean.
I’m trying something new this year (in regards to how I write.) In my stories, I’ve always leaned towards plot driven stories. I write circumstances and let my characters be formed at will. I read much the same way – I prefer plot over character. However, I value characters and I spend time wondering about them.
So this NaNo, I’m spending quite a bit of time on character creation. I’m letting them tell me about themselves almost like they’re filling out a 360 degree survey often used in business to evaluate effective management skills. It’s not only how people view themselves, it evaluates how other people view them. How direct contact people view them as well as the odd acquaintance or stranger.
My idea is to have 6 characters who are put into a situation go through the same event and see what each character picks up on. They’ll each tell the story in a way that is important to them.
Anyways, back to reference materials. I have a copy of The Outlandish Companion by Diana Gabaldon and I’m looking through her commentary on character creation. I’m actually having a conversation with her in my head, so I decided to write it down. In the book.
I wrote it down.
In the book.
In a book I only own 1 copy of.
I did, however, write it in pencil so that if I have marginalia remorse later on, I can go in and erase it. I better paperclip the page so I know where to find it.
Highlight. Flag. Paperclip… and now notate.
Next thing you know I’ll be dog-earring books. (No, probably not. Do you know what happens to dog-eared books? The corner that was folded down forms a nice little perforation where the page wears down and rips. Dog-ears turn into sad little cornerless pages.) Three words: small metal paperclips. Plastic ones are too thick and will warp the spine. Small. Metal. Paperclip.