I confess this isn’t so much of a book review as it is a survey of what the library has to offer by way of writers’ resources. As I write, I’m sitting on the floor of the library’s nonfiction section, specifically in the 808s, perusing an abundance of how-to books for writers. Trust me, we have materials for all sorts of writers; for authors of blogs, children’s books, fiction, memoir, mystery, poetry, prose, research papers, sci-fi, screenplays, technical writing, zines and more.
One of my favorites is a classic — William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White’s “The Elements of Style.” Initially copyrighted in 1935, “The Elements of Style” guides writers through both stylistic and technical aspects of writing, such as rules of usage, the principles of composition and approaches to style. Of the two editions we have at the library, I recommend the illustrated. Not only do the illustrations playfully enhance the book’s content, but, to be honest, it makes reading about independent clauses and such actually fun.
Other classics among our offerings include the “MLA Handbook,” which is geared toward writers of research papers, and “The Chicago Manual of Style,” which includes sections on the publishing process and documentation in addition to sections on style and usage.
We have “100 Things Every Writer Needs to Know,” which is designed for beginning writers and covers basic through advanced writing-related topics, as well as books that cover the how-tos of developing a successful writing business or practice, such as “The Business of Being a Writer” and “Welcome to the Writer’s Life.”
Perhaps you’re looking for something specific, such as “The Writer’s Guide to Psychology,” “The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in the Middle Ages,” “A Poet’s Guide to Poetry,” “Screenwriting in a Nutshell” or “How to Become a Famous Writer Before You’re Dead.”
Maybe you’d like some advice from well-established writers, such as Eudora Welty or Stephen King, both of whom have books titled “On Writing.” Or you might like “Wretched Writing” for suggestions on what not to write.
If you’re a writer experiencing writer’s block, then we have books for that too: “If You’re Writing, Let’s Talk” and “Pep Talks, Warnings, & Screeds” are but two examples.
In addition to the “how to” writers’ resources, we offer periodicals devoted to writing, such as The Writer and Writer’s Digest. Such magazines apprise of up-to-date writers’ resources, including competitions, events and more, as well as advise writers when seeking writing communities or dealing with agents.
Yet further resources include a small collection of reference materials, including “The Writer’s Market,” “The Poet’s Market” and “Children’s Writer’s & Illustrator’s Market.” These annuals are helpful for writers seeking literary agents, publishers, or otherwise looking to profit from their work.
Another sort of writers’ resource we have at our library — and uniquely so — is the Joplin Writers’ Faire.
Serving writers and readers alike, this annual event connects writers with existing and potentially new audiences while encouraging community support of local and regional writers. Also, it serves as a springboard for those who would like to become more involved in the literary arts by introducing attendees to experienced writers and by providing browsable writing-related displays.
This year’s event will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26. I encourage you to stop by and check it out. Until then, check out one of the above-mentioned writers’ resources or come in and browse others.
As always, happy reading. Or is it happy writing?
Jill Halbach Sullivan is the executive director of the Post Art Library located inside the Joplin Public Library.