Diary of a Writer – Storing the Research Materials

Book Sale books

Book Sale books

 

I never allow visitors into my study because I know exactly where everything is. Apparently, I have a visual memory (tested by a training programme at work) and if something is moved – it’s lost. Also it’s a tip (ie not suitable for visiting). Elsewhere in the house my husband shelves books by type (travel, etc) and fiction by alphabet. So in the rest of the house, other people have a fighting chance of locating a Dickens novel should they want one.

My study also contains a lot of research material and much of that was bought at the Christian Aid book sale pictured above. As I wrote a play about JM Barrie, I was able to source almost all his works and several biographies there. As I now write Scottish Regency novels (look out for the next coming soon-ish), I’ve bought many Scottish source books. I have made an attempt to shelve them by General Scottish and Edinburgh. Even so, they cover two bookcases and two shelving units with a few on the floor, the desk or behind the printer.

Is this the most efficient way to recover that tiny fact holding up chapter ten? Maybe not, but it works for me because I do in fact visualise. Firstly I see the fact and whether it’s on the right hand or left hand page. Then I see whether the book in question was hand sized, A5 or coffee table. Then I see its colour. Oops! I have a very shaky colour memory and have to hope I’ve found the volume before that becomes an issue.

There’s also that muscle memory thing – you know where you can go on doing things long after you’ve essentially stopped that activity. We used to have a large bookcase outside our bedroom. It’s been gone over 20 years. I still find myself studying the wallpaper there wondering where a copy of such and such has gone.

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So, how do you store your paper books?

My kindle has been teasing me recently. I’ve been building up an electronic collection of both Georgette Heyer and Ann Cleeves. Recently I was scrolling through and discovered how separated they become because of that operational thing whereby your last read book rises to the top of the ‘library’. I think, with a little time, I could group the already read ones. But, and it’s a big but, how does one keep that up-to date? Answers please. Then I might have the defence that although the study is a muddle, the kindle is a model of perfection.

Anne on Amazon Author Page

Daisy’s Dilemma Kobo

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6 thoughts on “Diary of a Writer – Storing the Research Materials

  1. Non-fiction by subject, fiction by author (not alphabetically, but roughly by genre). The dilemma comes though when eg – I like to have all my Penguins together but not all my Jane Austens are Penguins … Rearranging books – one of my very favourite things to do. Laughed to hear of you examining the wallpaper!

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  2. This certainly resonates with me. I occasionally ‘file’ the finished reads on my Kindle, but only occasionally – so it’s not usually up to dat. As for my writing desk/space – notes, reference books everywhere – but like you I can ‘see’ where everything is – most of the time 🙂

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  3. Enjoyed this post.
    Wish I was anywhere near as organised as that, Anne!
    Fiction is mostly stored in bookcases in my bedroom, in the hall outside my bedroom, on the shelves at one end of the study, in the bookcases in the living room, in the bookcases in the hall downstairs …
    You get the picture?
    Books on writing are stored, in no particular order, on the shelves behind my computer, beside my computer, beside my bed …
    Research books similarly distributed.
    Funnily enough, I can usually find the book I’m looking for no bother 🙂

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