No, not to INK. I mean, to the piles of books on and around and under my desk.
This happens with every book I work on, and I’m sure others can relate. As I research and write and revise, I gather growing piles of books – real, dusty, old-fashioned books. I keep thinking I’m done researching, but then I come across another obscure source I’ve just got to have. So the piles keep growing.
But eventually, when all the revising is done, and my editor assures me I can no longer alter so much as a comma, there comes this slightly sad moment when I realize I don’t need to keep the books at my desk anymore. That’s what happened this weekend with my upcoming book, BOMB. The advanced reader copies have gone out, and at this point I don’t even want to look at them, ‘cause I’ll just find things I want to change, and it’s too late.
So why are all of these books I used as sources still lying around my desk? Because we have no bookshelf space left in our house? Yes, that’s part of it. But I think the real reason is that putting the books away feels kind of like turning my back on friends. Every book in the stack is packed with amazing characters, scenes, and details, and I only mined a tiny fraction of the riches. After I put the books away, I’ll move on, and maybe I’ll dip back into them at some future date. Or maybe not. What a terrible friend I am.
In the spirit of thinking aloud, as David Schwarz did so compellingly last week, wouldn’t it be cool if there was an INK library? That is, one central location where we could keep the books we’ve collected over the years, and make them available to curious kids and teens and teachers. I can imagine it would be an incredible storehouse of fascinating and lesser-known true stories and primary sources. And in each book there’d be an inscription by the author who donated it, saying which book he/she used it for. And it would have an online catalog, and even digital versions of some non-copyrighted sources…
Anyway, just something I got to thinking about while I was supposed to be cleaning up my desk. Now, back to work on the next book – and the new stack of sources.