The Prompter Room

For Tuesday, January 12, 2016:


“Don’t you love the Oxford Dictionary?  When I first read it, I thought it was a really, really long poem about everything.”

David Bowie

“The final lesson a writer learns is that everything can nourish the writer.  The dictionary, a new word, a voyage, an encounter, a talk on the street, a book, a phrase learned.”

Anais Nin, attributed – FRENCH WRITERS OF THE PAST

Allow me, please, to disagree with Ms. Nin a little, albeit with respect.  I believe this is one of the first lessons a writer learns – though I think it’s likely more a realization.  It’s also not only a first one or a final one.  As David Bowie showed us, writers – and probably all artists – know this is a lesson that is lifelong.

I remember doing something similar to Bowie.  While I didn’t read dictionaries as though they were books, I almost always went far beyond the word or words I was looking up.  I did this with encyclopedias, too.  Growing up, we had one set of encyclopedias about all the world cultures that I would explore, without a particular research subject, just to find out more about different peoples and places.  I could really get lost in those.

The resource section of my bookcase over there has two or three etymology books, a one-volume encyclopedia, The Oxford Companion to English Literature and The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, along with the requisite thesauruses (two different ones) and a dictionary.  Sometimes I’ll pick out one to read when I feel the need for nourishment, something to relax into.

I do agree with Ms. Nin about all the other things, and I could add others as well.  Now I can add reading the dictionary like a poem.  I really like that – and maybe I can write one, too.


3 thoughts on “The Prompter Room

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