What words do you love to say?

Sometimes a certain word pops into my mind for no discernible reason. Yesterday it was Taliesin. That’s the name of a 6th-century Welsh poet, not that I’m familiar with his work, or life, or anything but his name. I like the sound of it. My tongue dances in my mouth when I speak it. So I’ll say it now—“Taliesin.” Say it with me, and if you don’t know how to pronounce it click here, only say it livelier than he does. Taliesin!

Anyway, I started thinking about two other names I love to say: Tatiana and Tataouine (or Tatooine, if you’re a Star Wars fan). Love that “t” sound, obviously, as well as the common ending of words such as delicious, luscious, deciduous, and luminous.

Then I listed other words that feel lovely in my mouth and to my ear like evanescence, soliloquy, arpeggio, and oubliette. Of course, the sound of oubliette is much more pleasant than its meaning.

Sometimes I love to say a word, not because it’s beautiful, but because it makes me smile—pickle. Now really, don’t you think there’s a built-in smile in that word?

Or I like a word because, when you say it just so, it leaves no doubt what you mean. Despicable—give them the steely eye and accent that middle syllable!

I wish I’d kept a list, adding words to it when they delighted me for whatever reason. Now, I’m wondering if I’ve ever used any of these words in my writing—delicious may be the only one. Hmmm.

So tell me; tell me, please: What words do you love to say?

Are we creative enough?

The simple answer to that question is NO. We may never reach our full creative potential, but we should strive for it. We should never limit ourselves. Our souls should always reach for more.

So, since I’m not satisfied with my current creative expression, how do I progress? This speaks to an earlier statement I made about how reading and writing are two stages for me—filling and emptying. When I find myself struggling to express, it’s likely because I’m depleted.

Some call this depletion writer’s block. I recognize it as a need for a refill. I need to read. And I need to read great writing. That doesn’t necessarily mean I need to choose a classic from the high-lit shelf. I need to choose a book written by a great writer in the genre that inspires me, likely the genre I write.

Certainly, I need to read something I love. Something that thrills me. Something that wakes the drowsy muse within me. It’s likely I won’t read that whole book at once because, as I read, ideas will rush toward me like a swollen river. A river of words. My own words. I’ll put the book down and let those words flow through me to the pen or keyboard.

When I’m emptied out, I’ll pick up a book again. Creativity is a process. Ebb and flow. Never ending, as long as you open yourself to more.

Go, now, and create.


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Dreams, daydreams, and nightmares

We write fiction because we are dreamers. Whether we dream by day or night, whether our dreams are sweet or nightmarish, our stories and novels come from that place where real and imagined combine.

Rêverie (Daydream) – Paul-César Helleu, 1901

At the mere mention of that place, some of us may drift off to ponder the nature of reality. Before long, we’re crafting a tale of some fantasy “I wish” or historical “what if” or futuristic “it could” or contemporary “it does.”

What power we writers hold. We create. From a lock of hair, a tilt of head, a room, a city street, a desire, a fear, a thousand other details, we fashion a character, a locale, a situation. We write a thousand words, a hundred thousand. “It’s alive!”

Some of us write brilliantly. Most of us less so. But we are writers all. We record what we dream because we have that ability. Because we want to. Because we have to.

We give life to our dreams out of despair, joy, hope, fiendishness, playfulness, cleverness, daring. What else can we do?

We are dreamers.

We write.


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Word usage. Is it a regional thing?

In case you’re new here, I’ll explain that I’m doing a final polish of a novel. I’m down to rewording a sentence or two and some other nitpicky stuff.  One thing my editor marked in several places was an omission of a word. The pure typos I corrected immediately, but a few other sentences she flagged looked fine to me.

These debated instances are in narrative, but they reflect how I would speak those sentences. I’ve concluded that either my speech is eccentric, or the way I speak is a regional thing. And if it’s regional—how big a region does it encompass? As much as possible, I want to avoid causing a reader to stop, reread, and mentally rewrite. Obviously, the “missing” word stopped her. If it would stop the majority of you, dear readers, I want to change it.

Once again, I need your help.

In each sentence below, a word may be missing. I could make it easier by telling you the word she felt I omitted in these sentences, but what fun would that be? So, tell me, do these sentences read correctly to you, or did you feel the need to supply a missing word?

  1. She looked down at the album as if she needed a visual reminder who Stephen was.
  2. At the least, she owed her an explanation why she’d had to drive all the way over here.
  3. Though she knew it was irrational, she couldn’t still the fear that just outside those beams something huge and solid—a stalled semi, a mountain—waited for them to slam into at full force.

If you comment, please let me know where you grew up. That way maybe I can determine whether I’m just odd or a creature of culture. Well, I guess we already know I’m odd, but you know …


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Write what you know means …

When my granddaughter was not quite three, one of her favorite movies was Disney’s The Aristocrats, but for a while, no one realized she had redubbed it. Then, one day, we heard clearly her request to watch The Rest of the Cats.

She didn’t know the meaning of the word aristocrats, so she heard words she did know. That’s a frame of reference. It’s what we all use every minute of our lives. The brain uses frame of reference when it receives sensations to filter and identify each correctly.

In that same sense, we all filter what we read against our experiences. Does it match, enhance, or refute what we already know? Even when researching a new topic, we have to fit it into our particular frame of reference to make sense of it. That’s also the way we write.

If we write about a certain time, say the summer of 1965, our first response is to fit that into our frame: I was ten years old or that’s the year we moved to Idaho or that’s when Grandpa took up skydiving. We can learn what happened in the greater world that year, but that information will be added to, mixed with, or colored by what we already know about that year in our egocentric world.

And, like my granddaughter, if we’re true to our frame, we use the language of that point of view. We use words that are common to us, the ones that flow naturally from our lips, the ones we don’t have to look up in a dictionary or borrow from a thesaurus.

But, but, but what about writing fiction? Does this mean we can only write about characters like ourselves? Of course, not. As fiction writers we have the privilege of being many selves. We just have to discover and stay within the frame of reference for each character. Only then will our characters ring true.

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