My Roget’s Thesaurus is pretty beat up. It’s a paperback with creased binding. The cover is missing the top corner. Half an inch of paper has peeled away from the bottom of the spine. It looks well used if not well-loved.
Until I pulled it out last week, I don’t think I’d used it in years. Certainly not enough to warrant its bedraggled condition.
In high school, however, I used it all the time…to the point of detriment for my writing. I was trying to find better, more sophisticated ways of saying things. Instead, phrases came out over wrought and pretentious. Maybe the saying shouldn’t be “write what you know,” but rather, “write words you know.” Simplicity is always clearer and more powerful.
The reason I brought it out recently was to find another way to say “shard.” I’d used it a few times on one page and when I read the passage out loud, all I could hear was “shard, shard, shard.”. Even after editing, it was in there too often. I felt bad dragging the old book out, like I shouldn’t be resorting to such a shady tactic, but it worked. I found the word I was looking for: fragment. Duh, I should have been able to come up with that myself.
No matter how bad I feel using a thesaurus, I can’t even contemplate tossing it. Part of that is because it’s a book and you just don’t throw a book away, and part of it is because of the shard situation. One day, in the very distant future, I may need it again.
Where do you stand (if at all) on thesauruses? Thesauri?