The Beauty of Words

Some people collect stamps. Others collect rocks or trinkets or magnets or keychains: things to remember places by or things to set on their shelf and admire.

I collect words.

But words aren’t quite as tangible as a rare rock or gold trophy, right? Words are almost abstract. Can you touch words? Can you taste words? Can you feel words?

Words are beautiful. I say them sometimes to simply taste them on my tongue. “Pomegranate” is a lovely example: It has an elegant, soft pop that slips back, like the edge a the tide, sliding up, sending a wave of chilly shock up your tingling limbs, and then pulling back.

Maybe not all words flow as smoothly as others, but with each I can taste a clear personality. Like the words, “lurid” or “dado.” The first begging to be sneered, the later to be stuck into a limerick.

Each word has a taste. Each word has it’s rhythm.

And that’s just the personality of it’s outside form.

What about it’s meaning?

It’s funny how specific words can be.

Have you ever wanted to know what to say when you throw someone out a window? Maybe it would be handy for throwing out insults?  Defenestration would be the word you’re looking for. What about describing your favorite activity? Curling up with a huge, thick book. Or curling up with a tome.

Or what about a sense of longing in your heart for something that is now gone. A wishful heart for the “good ole days.” A deep homesickness.

There’s a Welsh word for that. My favorite word in fact.

Hiraeth.

Even in its taste, the word whispers of deep longing.

It sounds like the kind of word you would stand on a distant moor in the middle of a misty morning and mummer to yourself.

One interesting thing I took away from reading the novel Watership Down earlier this year was the world building behind the rabbits’ language.

Different cultures, I realized, shape different words.

While we have no need for the word “silflay,” the rabbits need something to call the action of leaving their holes to go feed on grass.

That fascinates me.

But words are not only beautiful and interesting, they are powerful too.

I feel the glow of words shaped around love. I feel the sting of words shaped around hate and anger. In fact, as the Bible says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” (Proverbs 18:24) That’s a huge power and, like from the quote in the old Spiderman movies: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Do you use words? How often do you use them? On a daily basis?

I do. A lot actually. And so, everyday I hold the power of life and death in my hands. Every minute, every second, I could explode. I could blow up in someone face and scream and yell and tear them down. Or I can take a deep breath. I can smile. And I can ask, “How can I help you today?”

You see, words are tools. Like a hammer, you can use it to build a house. You can shelter your family or bless a person in need. But also like a hammer, you can take words turn them into your weapon. They can be used to tear or build, to scream or laugh, to calm down or to stir up, and to dance or cry.

We all have heard the saying “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We curl up in the night and whisper it ourselves, saying it shouldn’t hurt when it does. But it just isn’t true.

We see in Proverbs 12:18 that wise words heal while rash words harm: “There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Also Proverbs 15:4: “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit.”

In fact, I could keep going. The power of the tongue is a recurring theme in the Proverbs as King Solomon emphasizes the value of a prudent man’s words and the iniquity of rash man’s.

Words are also powerful because they shape one of the ways we communicate. They help us express our pains and share our thoughts. Collecting them can be useful.

So what are some of your favorite words?

 

The March of the Typos

Typos.

You’ve got to love them.

Especially when they prowl in the paragraphs of your most important papers.

I view it as a blessing when I’m required to read it one more time before the whole class: It’s my last chance to spot that little monster and cross it out.

I’ve had my fair share of typos as I am sure every writer has.

When the words start pounding in my head and flying out my fingers, the scene of the story playing out before my eyes, I can hardly keep up with myself or my spelling lessons. I have no time to check myself and soon the squiggly red lines are blurring until they disappear behind my character’s surroundings.

When I first started editing my very first competed novel, I came across many a misused comma.

There is a great satisfaction to surfing through pages and pages of manuscript and adding those little missing punctuation marks, but after a certain amount of time, as the sun sets in the west and my eyes grow weary and my hands cramp up from crossing out everything.

It is in those moments typos no longer are those embarrassing mistakes, but suddenly my greatest friends, entertaining me when I most need it.

I even began writing them down.

So today, you get a glimpse into what crazy things sometimes pop out of my fingers.

Welcome to my rough draft world, where my character gallop away on their hoses and the air is filled with humility!

First up we have some brilliant prose dug up from the one and only, Unnamed Fantasy Novel of my childhood:

“The chickens squawked widely.”

What profound wisdom is this?

Meaning their range was wide?

I’ve never payed attention to the pitch of squawking chickens, but now I will have to notice.

Very intriguing.

 

“The first raised his head and stared at Ethel, screeching, as his boy started to shrivel and shrink until it was a black feathery creature: A vulture.”

Yikes… I feel sorry for his boy.

Poor kid.

 

“Behind, in the courtyard, yelling arose and then something began to thudded below in the streets.”

 

This sentence is actually pulled from the same scene as the last two…

When it rains, it pours, my friends.

 

“Ethel could barely see his shadow stop and pull something from a self.

Wow, is this stranger a magician? O.O

Or is he just a guy reaching into his pockets?

And will Ethel ever really know?

 

“I have brought you breakfast and a new dress, since the one I dressed you in the first day was too big. It was the only one we had at the moment,” she chattered setting everything she held on the self, along with items from the stool.”

What can I say?

I’m a person of habit.

 

“Dried herbs dangled from strings off the low rafters, fragmenting the room with a mix of strong smells.”

I mean.

It works

 

“He held out the plate and Ethel accepted it sullenly. The rice and rice smelled good. He handed her the fork too.”

Rice and rice guys.

You heard it here first.

Best dish ever.

 

“…The Riders: Two black dots drifted amidst the blue ribbon that snacked into the horizen’s grasp.”

Wow… just.

Wow.

Blue ribbon snacked into a horizen’s grasp?

Is English even my first language?

And what is up with these descriptions?

All I can picture is a small mythical rodent nibbling on a blue ribbon.

I promise I don’t describe things this way any more.

 

“Seth grabbed the boy’s shoulders with venomous and leaned forward.”

Wait… so was Seth secretly a venomous creature? Like a snake? 😮

I mean the other guy’s boy turns into a vulture sooo

The things an author doesn’t know about her characters until it happens.

And that’s fun and all, but even more recently as I combed through my first set of twenty chapters from 51, I found stuff:

“Stay with my Zeb,” she whispered. “Don’t you dare faint now.”

Woah, woah, woah.

Charlie, my dear.

Don’t go to fast here… you’ve only known him for 24 hours.

That was supposed to say me

And then a few lines later Zeb asks Charlie:

“How much father?”

 

Can their situation here get any more confusing?

 

Charlie nodded. “I’m sorry… I know it hurts and I quash we were closer.”

Well apparently.

Wait…

There’s even more.

“They limped on and Sarah and she dumped the paper bag into the trash.”

Look.

I don’t even have a character named Sarah.

Talk about random people showing up in scenes.

Well, Sarah, you got your little debut in the middle of no where, may we return to the story?

 

“Zeb looked down at his tights where the bloodied strip of white was tied around his tattered jeans. Where had that come from?”

Oh totally.

Ballerina tights are so Zeb’s style, guys.

Like totally.

Yeah…

No.

That’s supposed to say “thigh.”

So where did those random tights come from, Zeb? Do tell. 😉

 

 

Ode To The Family’s 2003 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan

Sometimes inspiration rises from the everyday happenings that feel so forlorn and bland.

Everyone has a unique experience and while they might overlook common formalities: another dinner, another drive, another drag of school. They can all be captured.

The art of the poet is to see the beauty in the commonplace; to encompass and package a little breath of truth to bring a little light, a little hope, a little sense of understanding to another human being.

Well, lately I’ve been focusing on metaphors and similes, and imagination in general within my poetry, as well as using familiar and everyday objects/activities as my subjects. Through these experiments, I’ve fallen in love with a more subtle rhyming method, where the rhymes do not fall at the end of every sentence and sentences carry over lines. Apparently the term for that is enjambment or run-over lines as opposed to end-stopped.

Here is a poem I wrote this week about my family’s minivan, which, unfortunately, appears to be living out its final days.

I hope you enjoy! (:


 

Ode To The Family’s 2003 Chrysler Town & Country Minivan

You are as old as me and yet somehow

still older. Every time we step into

your arms, your legs buckle, groan, and bow.

When you try to move from your night bed, you

try once, then twice before you lurch off the

gravel perch and stumble, for a moment

on the verge of crashing a pot with your knee

unable to command numb limbs so aged and spent.

Words are merely slurred and mumbled. We stop

to feed you morning coffee, the liquid

pools in your mouth, you taste it burn and smell

bitter potentness. It stains fingers amid

digestion. Even up and wakened well,

every pothole and stick rattles your teeth.

Your joints creak with every bend and you wheeze

that it’s always too hot or too far beneath,

for comfort, or life for that matter. We

give your back massages and clean your chipped

glasses. We even sit you in shades of trees

during outings. But time is time however kept,

We dread the coming day you’ll breathe your last,

And we pray that long you will stay steadfast.

Easter Morning // of sonnets and such

I have tried to write a sonnet many times, but this is the first time I have actually completed one.

For those curious, a sonnet is a fourteen line poem, typically (for English) with ten syllables per line and an iambic pentameter (meter consisting of a pattern of unstress, stress, unstress, stress, etc.)

However, there are different types of sonnets that entail different rules for rhyming schemes.

One is the Italian or Petrarchan sonnet which divides its fourteen lines into two sections: one of eight and one of six. The first section must have a ABBAABBA rhyming scheme, but the second section can have any variation of 2-3 rhymes that the poet picks.

The English/Shakespearean sonnet is split into three sections of four lines and then a concluding couplet. This format has a rhyme scheme of ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.

The later is the type I have been trying to handle. I have so many slips of paper, lined up with the pattern printed on the side and scribblings and scratchings filling the first two lines. My words spill into the margins as I cross out phrases again and again in the search for the perfect combination.

Simply, it’s a puzzle. And I have finally pieced one together.

It was certainly hard, but lots of fun, and hopefully, more will follow.

So, without further ado! Easter Morning.


 

Easter Morning

Last Friday it poured and rained. The world was

A mess of mud and muck. We walked right through

The parking lot, trying hard not to pause

In puddles, deep and dark; They swallow shoes.

 

But was there ever sunshine bright like this?

When birds sing so freely now as they hop

On the brilliant green lawn? The entrance

Of the church is circled, tulips a top.

 

Inside, the building swells with songs of praise,

The people gathered, singing, swaying, to their songs,

Their thanks, their love, their joy they raise.

For now the promise grows and stands so strong.

 

Yes risen! He is risen now indeed!

For Christ, our savior, death will not succeed.

 


 

The meter is not perfect, but I am satisfied. (:

Have you ever written sonnet? What was it about?

Until next Friday, my friend!

~ evelyn ~

Camp NaNoWriMo // of goals and projects and lessons learned from the last time

April is approaching.

I can see the light of summer break at the end of the tunnel and the chapters left in my school books are decreasing, but then here comes Camp NaNoWriMo.

For those you don’t know, Camp NaNoWriMo is the summer version of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) where writers go nuts, trying to write an entire novel in 30 days.

The key difference is that for the “camp” you get to set your own goal. Whether it be only 5,000 words or writing for a certain amount of hours each week, you get to pick.

Despite the fact that the first two weeks of April are pretty packed with school projects, and even a trip out of town, I want to challenge myself and thus decided to try for 50,000 words again.

I barely made it in November (mainly because I ran out of things to write ha) but I made it nevertheless, had fun, and learned a lot.

Despite popular belief, professional authors don’t just sit down and write their perfect prose or brilliant plots first try. There is always that terrible first draft – or that “sloppy copy,” as my grandma says – that ends up being drowned beneath a pile of notes and edits.

I had struggled for so long with understanding that. I would stare at the screen in frustration, trying to pound out just one sentence to satisfy the standard I set. I would reorganize the words, then delete them, then type them all back again. It was both exhausting and depressing.

However, when you have only thirty days to write the entire thing, suddenly the time to be picky disappears. If I was going to survive NaNoWriMo I knew I was going to have to throw perfectionism out the window. It forced me to do it.

And I went from spending a year and a half on a first draft, to twenty-five days.

Now, I hope to pull it off again!

For Camp NaNoWriMo,  I will be writing (and I thought I was never say this) a sci-fi, time-traveling novel. Or at least I will be attempting to. 😉

The idea behind it all started when I was writing some quick flash fiction in November (during NaNoWriMo, in fact) and then I began wondering what it would be like emotionally for someone to actually be a time-traveler.

A few hours later I had typed up a total of six pages on the topic. Six pages of me just musing about it.

A nice little, six-page plot bunny.

Thankfully, once all the ideas that had been bouncing around my head were neatly outlined in a document, I was able to set it aside and get back to work on my NaNoWriMo project and focus without another distraction.

Since November, though, I have continued to brainstorm, flesh out characters, and sketch a plot as the sudden late-night inspirations hit. I scrawl them out on a scrap of paper I had been using as a bookmark or in the margins of my algebra homework.

The past couple weeks, I have been compiling them in preparation for Camp NaNo. Now my character notes filed in easy reach, and my scribblings on the plot points translated and typed from a gleeful mass of names and verbs into something legible.

So here I present for your scrutiny, a mock cover and blurb for my (hopefully) soon-to-be written novel, 51.


 

51_Mock Cover_2

Zeb was going to change the world.

He was on his way to the largest, most elite school of science, prepared to discover cures, build machines, and ultimately help those in need.

But the day before he was bound to leave, his father was shot by a man who vanished without a trace. And left in his hand was the note:

“No one lives past fifty here.”

 


 

Camp NaNoWriMo, here I come.

Until next week!

~ evelyn ~

 

The Virtue of Short Stories

You might have heard the tale before.

One of Ernest Hemingway’s friends once made a bet that he couldn’t write a story out of just six words, but Hemingway proved him wrong with his now famous story: “Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.”

Now this challenge is often used as an exercise for writers. I’ve tried my hand at it a year ago, and then, when it was brought up recently, tried again.

My favorites that I’ve written would probably be: “She hoped that hope would come,” or “Here, the ash rains like snow.”

For some people writing short stories comes easily. Or at least easier than it does more me.

It’s like trying to walk into a room filled with strangers, say something strikingly profound, then say something touching and raw, get people to cry, and walk out – all in under five minutes. Even when I do manage to write short stories, they end up being on the long side of the spectrum.

I’ve been thinking a lot about short stories lately. Partly because my local library is putting on a contest and partly because I’ve been trying to write one for a while now.

They (being a vague reference to published authors I stalk) say that short stories are the real test for good authors. To be able to write just a few pages and still move a reader is a sign of knowing how to use words the way you want. A sign of being concise and powerful.

And that makes perfect sense, but I still struggled to write that dreaded short story.

Oh that moment when I realized the contest had a word limit! A word limit of 2500 words.

But in the end I succeeded in my goal. I didn’t pass the word limit. That is… I wrote 2500 words exactly and sent them off to be raked through.

Now that I think about it, I hope the word limit wasn’t supposed to include the title.

Um… whoops. (: