The Power of the Word

I love words, and I always have.

Whilst pregnant; my mother swallowed Agatha Christie and James Herriot and Ogden Nash, sending their formatted prose intra-umbilically to my formatting body. After I was out and able to lay still; the fare included A Child’s Garden of Verses, Shel Silverstein, Ramona Quimby, and Twig. Once literate by my own merits (and from my mother’s example); I devoured Laura Ingalls Wilder, Arabian Nights, Bruce Coville, and Anthem.

I vowed to read every book ever written. I thought my goal an attainable one.

In the meantime, my literary diet supplemented my grammatical learning. Unlike many writers, I do not have a degree in the craft. My teachers were Charlotte Brontë, Mary Shelley, and Douglas Adams. They taught me by example and expanded my lexicon to precocious measures.

In this way, I blame them for my problem.

I love words and am not afraid of them. I play with adjectives, verbs, and nouns like a small child with a treasure chest of his favorite playthings. Yes, I sometimes smash them together and finger paint a Jackson Pollock-worthy story. Yes, I sometimes roll terms into shapes like Play-Doh and end up with noun-verbs and adjective-nouns.

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Every now and then I step back from my mishmash meter, sigh with contentment, and behold a magnificent mural.

Between times, however, my words have a tendency to cause mischief. I’ve used strong words to accurately describe my feelings, and inaccurate words in feeling ways. I’ve intentionally poked and stabbed to incite a reaction. A handful of times, I have drawn on The Power of Words to move a people to action.

I am, naturally, a novice at wordweaving. I worry at trying a spell when I haven’t passed all the levels. I tell myself not to dabble until I become a master.

I have also ticked some people off.

And yet, I cannot stay away. The bubbling brew of prosaic verse simmers warmly, invitingly, lovingly. Come hither, it tempts, I will not harm thee

What say ye, wordspellers? How do words speak to you, how do you listen, and how (in turn) do you release the power that builds as you chant your incantations?

—————

We’ve crafted for another week. Here’s what I created:
Wednesday, February 20: Is Harry Potter a good book? Read what I thought and what many insightful comments determined in “To Potter or Not to Potter?
Thursday, February 21: “The Cure for Depression: Don’t Be Hatin’ on Medicatin’,” another suggestion in a series originally posted over at The Bipolar Writer Mental Health Blog.
Friday, February 22: Winner of the Weekly Terribly Poetry Contest. Congratulations to Peregrine Arc!
Saturday, February 23: Announced the 14th Weekly Terrible Poetry Contest. We’re doing parodies of pop songs. PLEASE ENTER!
Sunday
, February 24: “Dot on the Brown,” my poem response to the famous Frank Prem’s “speck on the blue.”
Monday, February 25: “Wilhelmina Winters, Eighty-Three.”
Tuesday, February 26:  An inspirational quote by Maya Angelou. Smile at home, everyone.
Also, noted that I now have 500 Followers! Thanks again, everyone!!
Wednesday, February 27: Today‘s post.

I also posted all this week at my motherhood site. My favorite (and the internet’s) was my poem, “A Poem About Socks.”

And, I wrote a piece for Kids are the Worst titled “12 Fun and Easy Cabin Fever Fixes.” Don’t worry; there’s plenty of my good, old-fashioned sarcasm to keep things interesting.

 

Photo Credit:
Amaury Salas

Inspirational Plagiarism: a Dialogue

“I really want to write something.”

“So…”

“I know; I know. ‘So, write something.’ If only it were that easy.”

“It is. You just-”

“Just WRITE something. If it’s so easy, you do it.”

“I have.”

“Oh?”

“Yes.”

….

“What?”

“Where is it?”

“Where is what?”

“Whatever it is that you wrote. Supposedly. I mean, you said that-”

“Oh, that. Yes, well, it’s …thing is…”

“Well?”

“Computer crash last week.”

“Computer crash.”

“Yes. Tragic. I’d just finished up the 53rd chapter, too.”

“Fifty-three chapters?! Now I know you’re making this up.”

“Hmph. You’re just jealous because you can’t think of something to write.”

Neither can you!

“Of course I can. Didn’t you just hear that I wrote fifty-three chapters?”

“Says you.

And J.K. Rowling’s agent. He said they wanted me to send off what I had.”

What?!”

“Unfortunately, that e-mail also was lost in the crash.”

“Obviously….So, what were the fifty-plus chapters about? Hmmm?”

“Oh! Erm.. ah.. it was a fantasy novel.”

“Go on.”

“Well, I can’t give everything away.”

“Sure, sure. Just tell me the synopsis you sent to Rowling’s agent, then.”

“I’m sure you’re not really interes-”

“I am.”

“Well.. it was a sort of ..hmm… a mashup of classic story lines. …You know: a bit of boy-coming-of-age meets a girl-who-discovers-she’s-magic story…”

…..

“It’s true! Julieng –yes– Julieng is nearing adulthood and discovers a dragon egg buried beneath a red wall that …erm… Eil-ent -um- Eilent’s uncle built near her family’s cauldron on a pig farm and they must join forces to stop the ..evil …overlord who came back to life because of a ring.”

“A ring.”

“Uh-huh. And the ring was lost behind a false wall ..erm.. in an upstairs room about a hundred years ago that ..uh… Jules’-

“Julieng?”

“Yes -Juleng.. Julieng’s stepbrother’s half-sister’s cousin made with magic powder that takes them between worlds. …I had a bit about a lion -or maybe a witch. -Hmmm, maybe it was a wardrobe-”

“A wardrobe?”

“Or, maybe it was a vanishing cabinet. I can’t exactly remember because that was back at the start of the book, see, and I was to the part where they …ah found Queen Guinevere with one of the knights..”

That’s it.”

“That’s what? Hey -where ya going?”

“To write.”

“I thought you didn’t have anything to write …”

“I didn’t, but a recent conversation inspired me.”

“Oh?”

“Yep. I just hope the publisher doesn’t think it’s too tame of an idea…”

“Well… you know what Abraham Lincoln said.”

“No, what?”

There is no such thing as a new idea. It is impossible. We simply take a lot of old ideas and put them into a sort of mental kaleidoscope…

“Smart man, that Lincoln.”

“Yup. Like me.”

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“We who make stories know that we tell lies for a living. But they are good lies that say true things, and we owe it to our readers to build them as best we can. Because somewhere out there is someone who needs that story. Someone who will grow up with a different landscape, who without that story will be a different person. And who with that story may have hope, or wisdom, or kindness, or comfort.

“And that is why we write.”

-Neil Gaiman, Newbery Medal acceptance speech for The Graveyard Book at the annual conference of the American Library Association in Chicago, July 12, 2009.

The Stages of Being a Writer Reader

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I read a book recently.

Whilst reading, I noticed I was mentally composing questions or reprimands to the author.

Did you really just do that? Why’d you make her go there?

This is a change from the reading mind of my childhood; the time when I completely absorbed into a story, lived in the world, and watched the characters walking about. I’d surface from the last page, blinking at supposed reality, but not really entering it till all memories of Narnia or Yorkshire or The Enchanted Forest dissipated.

And then I’d pick up the sequel.

Looking at both ends of my experience, I’ve realized a path, a journey, a progression in my reading.

At first, in the child years of absorption, I was a toddler at Disneyland. Everything was beautiful, exciting, without flaw, and controlled by adults who handled all the details so all I had to do was have fun.

After that, the pleasure of the thing was ruined by high school English teachers. They insisted on an analysis of why every ride was fun, what the motives of the costumed characters really were, and what else Walt Disney meant by his questionable “It’s a Small World After All.”

In college, I moved on to read about the underprivileged workers at Disneyland. Who was the real ‘power’ behind what powered the rides, how could we feel exactly as he felt, and why must we be part of the hedonistic problem?

Between then and now, of course, is Mom Brain. With limited cranial capacity, I’ve had to read non-fiction to plan the amusement park trip so that every else could have fun. I got to ride a few fun books, but always followed up with the self-help variety once guilt kicked in.

And today we’re also here: a year after dedicating myself more fully to the idea that I can write, that I can create something like Disneyland.

Eventually.

Right?

So I’m mentally yelling at other authors about their design. Typical.

I wonder when I’ll get to the point of recognizing constructions or anticipating smart-sounding elements like ‘rising action.’ Will I ever be invited to Club 33?

I probably need to read some more. Has anyone else noticed a change in how s/he reads? Do you still enjoy reading?

This is what it means to create: not to make something out of nothing, but to make order out of chaos. A creative scientist or historian does not make up facts but orders facts; he sees connections between them rather than seeing them as random data.

A creative writer does not make up new words but arranges familiar words in patterns which say something fresh to us.

-Harold S. Kushner, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (51, 52).

Thanks to Confessions of an Irish Procrastinator for nominating me for quotes. I only like to share one, myself; but thanks for shouting out. 🙂

Late-Night Limericks

A writer once sought to amuse
But her laptop, to function, refused.
She’d turn it on late
Just to catch an “update.”
-Thus, the fate of a tool that is used.

There once was a man named McGill
Whose life was devoid of a thrill.
He therefore applied
For a mail-order bride.
Now, married, awaits a thrill, still.

Young Charlie perpet’ally moaned
For, he hated to be left alone.
“I’m scared,” he’d complain,
Till his parents remained,
Wond’ring if they could get him a clone.

There once was an eager young tot
Who asked for a working robot.
It arrived, as he wished
Babbl’ng perfect Engrish.
Now the tot’s lexicon’s about shot.

You know what makes a real writer? Rejections, that’s what. That’s what separates the talkers from the doers — guys who staple rejections to their chest and wade into the fray with those very same rejections as their armor, well, they’re the ones fighting the battles to win the war. Everybody else is just pretending.

-Chuck Wendig (terribleminds)