Saturday, 15 November 2014

Whittling With Words

A recent topic at my writing group posed the question, “What most lights your fire about writing?” Was it the aspect of being able to go anywhere, anytime, in flights of fancy? Was it the opportunity for unfettered self-expression? Was it simply to delight in fencing with the English language? Of course, it was all of those things, but the last one hit the sweet spot. Without a doubt it’s in the process of crafting a piece of writing that I find the most pleasure.
            I spend time finding just the right word. I get lost in a thesaurus, going down side tracks and detours of meaning and nuance, until I find the one word that sings to me. It fascinates me that the right word is rarely an unusual or lengthy one but a simple one of common usage. Placing that one right word in a phrase, and then a sentence, where all the other words have rhythm that complement it, is rather like a piece of music where particular intervals between notes make for a more striking melody.
            Like an old-timer on the front porch whittling away at a stick to make a whimsy toy to amuse his grandchildren, I can whittle away at words; building a sentence to build a paragraph and, from there, a short story or a chapter in a book.  
            The shavings? That’s called ‘editing’.


  1. Ah yes, I love finding just the right word - sometimes putting in possibilities or even xs until the right makes itself known :) Good analogy - between whittling and editing :)

  2. I've never really thought of that but oh so true... is there an analogy here... ordinary things (people) in unique situations make the ordinary extraordinary.. that's cool.

  3. I really must use those x's, Jeanette - instead of wasting time there and then! And yes, Brian, I think there IS an analogy about making the ordinary extraordinary. Thanks for spotting it!