I’m trying to finish a book right now (in the final week stretch) and while I am editing the draft I run into words I’ve shoved into the story that are either: a) creatively spelled or b) I’m not positive they mean what I think they mean. Or it’s old slang that I’ve used to give the story that period feel. But all in all, I need a good dictionary when I edit to make sure I’ve got it right.
I really try hard to get it right. Let’s put it this way, last night —really, last night–I had a nightmare that I was locked in a room with a group of writers who were sitting around a table saying in nonchalant and uncaring ways that “they never did research” and they “didn’t care if it was right or wrong.” I woke up in a fit, a cold sweat (or maybe a hot flash) and had twisted the sheets all over. Arrrggh! Not do research? Not want to get it right? I won’t be able to sleep for a week.
So a few books ago, I started debated buying the OED. The high queen, you might say, of all dictionaries. The OED? That’s the Oxford English Dictionary to the rest of you folks. But getting the big one, the real one, the one that comes in multiple volumes is expensive, not to mention the shelf space it takes up. So I went round and round whether or not to buy it. After a lot of googling and shopping, I discovered that you could can subscribe to the online version! Very cool, says I, (thinking all that saved shelf space that I don’t have) but still even online, too pricey for how much I would use it. My husband suggested using the copy at the library–but that would mean flagging pages and then trotting them all the way to the regional branch where they have the big, huge voluminous version that I need. You’ll watch the kids, right honey?
Then in one of those rare moments of frugality and common sense (at least the DH says they are rare) I wondered if my library subscribed to the online version, and if I could access via their website. Click, click, and there it was, before me, the holy grail of writers. My own personal access to the OED online. For the price of my free public library card. It was like being let loose in a word candy store.
God bless librarians, one and all. Now I’ve got my night-rail hyphenated just right.