Monday, June 28, 2010

Word Conscious

Have you ever thought about the power of words? As a writing major, I probably think about them a little too much.

Every time I read a novel, I grab a sticky note and a pen and write down any words that I am unfamiliar with or believe to be interesting choices. In the past three days I have learned several new words from the two books I read. And the Shofar Blew: cockamamie, barb, akimbo, and quixotic. The Dive From Clausen's Pier: isthmus, stodgy, oscillating, and churlish. Etcetera.

Inspiration comes when I read the inspiration of others.
I will quickly grab an old receipt from my overstuffed D&G bag and jot down all metaphors/sentences/descriptions that come to mind as I read another's words. Some are decent. Others makes me laugh. No matter their quality,
however, I consider all my receipts/post-it notes successes.
They are visual reminders of my word consciousness.
[The real trick is deciphering my scribbles later.]

It truly is an art, this stringing-words-together thing.
Wallace Stegner once said, "Easy reading makes hard writing."
No one is inherently "good" at it, especially the first time around. It takes work, dedication, practice. A writer's best friend isn't his pen, it's his eraser. Undoubtedly, he will use it more frequently. Anyone can write, but it takes a true artist to master his craft.

Have you ever wondered what it would be like if we all talked the way we wrote? I am keenly aware of words [their power and effectiveness] when I write, yet this somehow escapes me when I'm conversing with someone. I can be mean, hurtful, rude, completely oblivious to how I'm effecting you. I sometimes feel like Lindsay Lohan's character in Mean Girls. She is constantly having a conversation in her head, chastising herself for saying something stupid in front of her peers.
"Word Vomit," she calls it.

Some days, I have a bad case of word vomit where nothing "good" seems to
be coming out of my mouth. I want to be someone who speaks the truth in love. Someone who is gentle and kind. Many times, however, my blunt tongue has its own ideas.

I wish I was more word conscious.


  1. I like the picture and this post and you :)

  2. Me too. The difference between the way a person writes and the way he or she speaks is interesting.

  3. And the Shofar Blew - I have that one. I love me some Francine. I always like to look words up to. WHy read them if you don't understand them? I think I talk a lot like a write. At least people tell me that. But I think my writing is just a little bit conversational so that's why. hmmm.....


  4. Great post! I love that you write down all the words...we encourage our students to mark any words they don't know and look them up later as well.

    I feel ya on the "word vomit" sometimes I just don't know how to shut-up or my thoughts come out wrong. It happens to the best of us! Love ya!

  5. I feel the same way! I'm completely fascinated by words. Most people get music stuck in their heads but when I hear an interesting word, that tends to stick in my head as well! :)