Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dewey Decimate System

Mr. Crutcher, you have one obedient computer. You send yours to the library, I can’t even make mine go downstairs for a donut. And I’m sorry, but this Dewey Decimal has to go. When I was a boy in rural Colorado (at a one room school where my mom taught first through fifth grades – and hit me with a ruler when I was unruly – where at the end of every day we stood beside our desks and sang Onward Christian Soldiers like the angels we were) the bookmobile came once a week! It was like Santa Claus! -- except for this twirp Dewey Decimal that they were always trumpeting about. I already knew the real Dewey. Dewey Duck, with his brothers Huey and Louie. It was years before I discovered the truth about Mr. Decimal and his arcane “system.” As if three numbers weren’t enough, he added that point at the end and then added more letters and numbers after ... really? A whole 3x5 card just for the book’s number? Got so’s I would read the number and skip the book. That accounts for the richness of my literary understanding. Remember 142.780973 C826e? What a number! What a concept!
            Researching, I use several search engines for articles and images and I love the online thesaurus when I’m considering non-repetitive word choices. I made a deal with myself to stop and think --- THINK --- before I access these tools in the hopes that my brian doesn’t atropine completly . . . hmmm. 
            This week I’m caught up with my researching but I’m in the process of rearranging a new book’s fifteen beginning chapters to establish the character-building and the plot momentum that I believe will be most effective. I’m aware how difficult it is for me to hold entire chapters in my head and move them around like building blocks. I see now why some authors use storyboards to give themselves a visual anchor. Or maybe I should use scissors and scotch tape . . . but wouldn’t the pages tear after the eleventh reconstruction? Surely you have suffered the pain of beginningitis . . . or wait, maybe you’re one of those scalawags who write the first draft through to the end before you monkey with it. Well, fie on thee, penman, may your ship scrawl to the doldrums - - an old curse I learned from 216.818974 K353r.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, I remember those call numbers at the library, too. And I know what you mean about holding entire chapters in my head. I was writing a book that went back and forth between timelines, and I ended up making an impromptu storyboard out of post-it notes. It looked an unholy mess, but it sure was helpful in keeping things straight.