Friday, October 19, 2007

I Like Slutty Words

I love words.

I love reading them, writing them, pondering them and speaking them. (Just ask my husband.)

I don't think the love is mutual, though. While I'm forthcoming in my affection for words, the feeling is most assuredly not mutual. Sometimes I'm sure that words hate me. I swear, they sense my neediness and are entertained by it.

Just when I need a word most, it eludes me. As I stop to claim the word, it teases me, peeking into my consciousness just long enough for me to feel its perfection and then, just as I'm about to grasp it, it retreats quickly back into the darkness, leaving just a faint hint of itself. But I know it's there; I can feel it in the same way that I can feel the presence of someone lurking in a room. Knowing that it's there but just beyond reach is infuriating, but I know that if I wait quietly it might come to me willingly. Might. I move slowly at this point, knowing that if I pounce it will disappear again, and then it'll be gone forever, punishing me for my impatience.

I admit that I am an impatient writer. I don't like it when the perfect word eludes me, so I tend to just grab one that's easy to reach -- less refined and precise perhaps, but available and willing. If I were a true literary connoisseur I'd shun those "word sluts" (they're easy and like to be used) and pursue those with more dignity and poise, the "literary ladies," so to speak. Instead of tasty, I'd use succulent. Instead of hallway, I'd use foyer (French words are always ladies) or vestibule (which sounds kinda manly, doesn't it?). Instead of chatty, I'd use verbose or bombastic or, even better, grandiloquent.

But you know, that's just not me. I guess I like the slutty, easy words. I like tasty and hallway and chatty. And I like authors who prefer to hang out with the easy (dare I now call them slutty?) words -- authors like Anne Lamott and Nora Ephron and Lolly Winston -- because they know that the best, most descriptive word is often the one hangin' out witcha ol' self anyway, not the illusive, snooty catch-me-if-you-can bee-atch.

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5 comments:

susan said...

Huh...I don't think I'll ever look at words the same way again! lol

Jen of A2eatwrite said...

Oh, I SO agree with this. My students are so funny, because their papers are always chock full of whatever was on their most recent vocab list, and I'm really of the school of not using $50 words when a $.10 word will do!

Anonymous said...

It's ELUDE, not allude. Thanks for letting me get that off my chest.

Carol said...

Aw man, you're right! (Correction made.) Thanks.

See? Words hate me!! ;-)

Carol

Guilty Secret said...

I can't remember who it was, but some famous author said something along the lines of "if you need to use a thesaurus, you're using the wrong word." I liked that: simple and obvious is often best.

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