If you think you’re a grammar expert then try writing a book. Some days it’s formatting problems (I’m embarrassed to say that I’m still trying to figure out how to make Word happy), some days it’s spelling (had to look up the spelling for more words that I will admit last week), other days I have problems with verb tense, punctuation, and on and on. You name it and it has challenged me. (This, of course, doesn’t even include the difficulties of storytelling in and of itself…but that’s a whole ‘nother post).
For the last few days it’s been word usage. Use to or used to, past or passed, and is it lay or lain? (I won’t tell you their proper uses in this post, go look it up, I had to). My writing today was halted repeatedly so that I could verify the proper use of these words. It occurred to me when I turned to the world wide web for the 3rd time, rather than use a reference book on a shelf only 5 feet away, that the reference book world must be crippled these days. If someone like me, that cherishes my time with a bound book of any kind, turns to the internet for research then I can only imagine how rare it has become for the ‘occasional’ reader to actually purchase a reference book. The thought saddens me. I do understand that, especially in these economic times, the house payment and groceries must come slightly ahead of the ‘books (of any genre)’ section of most people’s household budget. Because let’s be honest, it’s just not necessary any longer to purchase these reference books when the information can be found instantly, and easily, on the internet. I will admit that while I have shelves currently overflowing with reference material, it’s been a while since I purchased a dictionary or any other grammar reference material (I do remember purchasing a thesaurus about 5 years ago).
I think tomorrow I’ll stack a dictionary, thesaurus, and grammar book right beside my computer…no longer will 5 feet allow me to contribute to the demise of the good ‘ol hardbound reference book.
*Please note that I’m referring to a specific type of reference book in my post. There will always (let’s hope) be a place for certain types of hardbound reference material.