EBB AND FLOW By Deborah Corrao

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 27, 1999

L’Observateur / September 27, 1999

Every time I sit down to write a column like this, I get this creepy sort of writer’s block, if you will. Even if I can hurdle the first obstacle – theidea – it seems like I begin to drown in mediocrity along the way.

I am a big fan of great literature. I can even summon admiration for thoseproliferators of pulp fiction, as long as I can find an interesting turn of phrase, an unexpected adjective or adverb that puts a different spin on something.

I think to myself, “Why didn’t I think of that?” My love affair with the written word began long before I could read. Thelibrarian who drove the bookmobile to my neighborhood watched with amusement, I’m sure, as I struggled off the truck with a stack of books almost as tall as I was, afraid that I would run out before she would return two weeks later.

Besides the fiction that I read, I was enthralled with a set of encyclopedias handed down from my grandmother. I believe that they hadbeen printed many years before I was born, certainly before the days of color photography.

I skipped across the black and white photos in favor of the color plates, artists’ renditions of everything from tropical fish to fairies.

After entering school and getting to the point I could actually write, I loved to write little stories and plays, becoming enthralled with my first thesaurus – a volume of synonyms and antonyms that I had been given to me by my aunt. It kept me occupied for hours.Now, to any of you who don’t have a great thesaurus, you don’t know what you’re missing. When I got one of my first jobs as a writer, I treatedmyself to a large paperback called “The Synonym Finder.” At the time Ibought it, it was billed the “largest, most comprehensive thesaurus in print.”My goal is to use all of the more than 1,500,000 entries. Trouble is, it’snot often that words like “reprobate” and “lickspittle” come up in everyday conversation.

So bear with me. I’m a work in progress. I’ve almost given up on the ideaof writing the Great American Novel, but I also harbor that tiny grain of hope that tells me it ain’t over till it’s over. Many great writers,musicians and artists were late bloomers. Maybe I will be, too.And, by the way, I still have that set of encyclopedias. I certainly neverdreamed as a child that I would one day be able to go to a computer for research. But, to me, nothing beats being able to open a beautiful book – tofeel the pages between my fingers, to smell the newness of the cover, to have at my fingertips the works of great artists.

And to those parents who feel the way that I do, that the gift of a good and well-rounded education is the best gift you can give your child, hang in there. Introduce your child to the library. Take your child to plays orconcerts or museums. Instead of toys that give a few weeks of pleasure,invest in books, art and musical instruments. Give your children a gift thatwill last a lifetime.

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