word craft


The Writer’s Toolbox

toolboxThe oth­er day a plumber came to our house to fix a bust­ed faucet. He came in a small truck, full of tools and sup­plies. When he entered the kitchen he car­ried his toolbox. 

That gave me a thought; does a writer have a tool­box? What are the essen­tial devices I need and use to write? Are there tools for my trade? 

  • My desk. It’s an antique one (of uncer­tain age) with a heavy, slant­ed lift top. I don’t like it, but it was giv­en as a spe­cial gift, not to be refused. (But when I vis­it­ed Walden Pond I was pleased to note that in Thoreau’s reimag­ined cab­in, my desk was like his.) 
  • A com­fort­able chair that gives good back support. 
  • There is my PC com­put­er, along with a key­board and mouse. I’m fussy about the key­board. I like to feel the keys move, a hang­over from my type­writer days. That said I don’t know how to use the com­put­er very well, and all too often call out: “Lin­da! Come quick! Every­thing I just wrote has vanished!” 
  • On the PC is a cam­era for con­duct­ing class vis­its. Head­sets so I can hear the kids talk. 
  • passwordsA lit­tle book in which I keep ID and pass­word infor­ma­tion for the var­i­ous pro­grams that I all too often forget. 
  • I also have a lap­top. To be sure it’s used when I trav­el, but also when I’m check­ing some­thing on my man­u­script, I bring up the same man­u­script on my PC and crosscheck. 
  • A print­er. I com­pose on the com­put­er, but con­stant­ly print and work on the print­ed page. 
  • Paper. Is paper (a first-cen­tu­ry Chi­nese inven­tion) a tool? No, but sure­ly essen­tial. I’m embar­rassed by the quan­ti­ty I use. 
  • Print­er ink. See above. Absurd how much it costs. 
  • Pen for paper edit­ing. “Pro­file” brand. Roller­ball. Red. 
red pen
  • manuscript notebooksWhen I work on a book, I put the var­i­ous drafts in a three-ring binder. I’m not par­tic­u­lar­ly eager to work with a loose man­u­script. What a pain when you drop it. 
  • A three-hole paper punch, heavy-duty, so that the 300-page man­u­script gets holed faster and into that binder fast before I drop it. 
  • An unabridged dic­tio­nary and the­saurus that I have online for quick access. 
  • A file cab­i­net that holds let­ters from edi­tors, con­tracts, and infor­ma­tion about school vis­its, real and vir­tu­al. Notes about the cur­rent project. And yes, busi­ness tax records. 
  • American Dictionary of Slang 1890sBooks. Research books. Books on his­tor­i­cal dress. His­tor­i­cal dic­tio­nar­ies. (e.g. The Amer­i­can Slang Dic­tio­nary from 1890) Many vol­umes of great writ­ing to remind me what great writ­ing tru­ly is. 
  • Mobile phone. I could not con­duct the busi­ness of writ­ing (edi­tors, mar­keters, pub­lic­i­ty peo­ple, and so on) with­out one. Nor could I sur­vive as a writer with­out con­tact with my col­leagues, writer and read­er friends. 

Like you.

Have I for­got­ten anything?

3 thoughts on “The Writer’s Toolbox”

  1. As I read through your “Sto­ry behind the Sto­ry” blog series, I noticed that you did­n’t write one for your book “What do Fish have to do with Any­thing?” I was won­der­ing if you could please do a blog post about the book. I would be inter­est­ed to read/learn about what the inspi­ra­tion behind that book was- and more specif­i­cal­ly the sto­ry “The Good­ness of Matt Kaiz­er” and what mes­sage you want­ed to con­vey in that sto­ry. Thank you.

  2. Well Sir…I just fin­ished Crispin! It was so good! Loved how Bear was a father fig­ure to Crispin. Loved the action and the words you use to describe it. Espe­cial­ly the sur­prise of who Crispin’s father real­ly turns out to be.
    Look­ing for­ward to anoth­er book from you…any sug­ges­tions? I have 2 more in my school list I must com­plete first…but this sum­mer which one of your books should I dive into?

    Coop­er Hall
    13 year old [7th grade]
    CLASSICAL CONVERSATION home­school student


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