The trouble with words

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash

Words are such a troublesome means of communication.
They are supposed to be a bridge that allows us to speak from a place with no language. What a strange road they travel from that dwelling place of feeling and thought. How pitiful the words we must use to overcome such a fathomless distance.

I see my efforts result in words that collapse back into the darkness.
I see other words veer off track, traveling skyward until they disappear and I’m back to studying my navel and inner space.

Where is that magic place of clarity where words fit the thought? Where they rush forward and take flight, spanning the distance between you and me. How can my words unite us?

Words seem so cheap, yet they are capable of wielding great power.
They can create a bond that links us. Or a chasm that cuts.
I fear my words lose too much in translation.

Sometimes I wish we didn’t need all these elucidations which too often muddy the water. If we could only chirp, or growl, or bark.
How much simpler life would be.

But it’s too late. I can’t stop searching now.
Even though I know there are no words for some things I have to say.

Photo by David Marcu on Unsplash


One of my favorite aspects of writing: research

Some days writing is exhilarating. Some days it’s exhausting.  But the research is always fascinating.

My recent Google search history would certainly befuddle the adorable little man in this picture.  I’d imagine he wouldn’t have to look up the Oxford comma, but doubt he’d be researching ‘what skills you need as a mental health therapist’, ‘writing a novel in 30 days-is it possible? should you try?’,  ‘are men with shaved heads more dominant’, ‘dashboard cats’, and last but not least: ‘track your Amazon package’.

As a writer, what oddball things do you end up researching?




Background music for writers

Some of my writing friends listen to music for inspiration, mostly notably Lia Keyes who is working on her steampunk novel and listens to Phantom of the Opera. Seems like the perfect choice for what promises to be a deliciously, dark mystery.

Normally I don’t listen to music while I write, but I’m intrigued by the idea of using my auditory senses to help ‘set the mood’. 

Here’s my dilemma though. What in the world would make good background music for a book with cats as the main characters, an evil professor and his Whisperer, a magical book of power and a host of mythological characters ranging from the dark to the light side, and settings that range from the ancient Library of Iskandriyah to a small public library in the foothills of California.

See what I mean? Suggestions welcome.

In the meantime, I’m going to check out Five great ways to find music that suits your mood,  a Mashable article that reviews several websites that let you pick out music according to your moods and emotions, rather than artist, genre or title.

What do you listen to, if anything, while writing?

Urban Dictionary — resource for writers who lead a sheltered life

From my Writer’s Toolbox: Here’s a good resource to keep you from ‘stepping in it’ literally when it comes to slang and the new urban language. For instance, I want to use the word ‘wuss’ in a children’s book and I need to know if it has any off color overtones that would be inappropriate for my young readers. I’m not ‘up’ on my slang or ‘tween language. (Who is?) and many words these days are used differently than when I was…um…younger. With the  Urban Dictionary I’ll know what to use and what to avoid, especially since I am writing for the YA and children’s market.

I checked ‘wuss’. It means: A person who is physically weak and ineffectual. Often a male person with low courage factor, as in “Tobias, you’re such a WUSS!”  So it means what I thought it did and it seems safe to use for my middle-grade fantasy.

Be forewarned though. The Urban Dictionary is not for wusses. Anyone apparently can add a new word, or define a word and it contains a lot of sexually explicit verbage. What it will give you is very current, up to the minute social connotations for any word you enter in the seach bar. There’s close to 5 million definitions and the Word of the Day section is updated daily with words and phrases you’d be hard-pressed to find all in such a convenient location.

Here’s some examples of the ‘cleaner’ entries:

Fax potato: A person who faxes from one floor to another instead of getting up and running the information because they’re too lazy to get out of their chair.
Protohype: The process of leaking a prototype device to generate buzz about a product you don’t quite yet have ready for market to a friendly tech website who will promote the gizmo well before it’s ready to go.
Tree-book: A book printed on dead trees, i.e. paper, as opposed to an e-book, which only exists electronically. Compare with snail mail.
Pi Time: The time of the day where a digital clock reads 3:14.
Child supervision: When an older person, especially a parent, needs a tech-savvy kid to help him/her with computers or other electronic devices. 

Do you write for middle grade or young adults?  How do stay current with their language and their world?


So you want to be a writer…

Should I let Algernon die, or let him suffer at the whims of his evil brother?
Even cats have trouble with the blank page.

Here’s what I’ve learned about writing in the last three years. When everyone else is:

  1. watching TV, I am probably writing.
  2. sleeping, I am usually writing and editing.
  3. on FaceBook, I’m…ooops…gotta get back to writing.
  4. blogging, I am writing, wishing I had more time to blog.
  5. shopping, I am revising a chapter.
  6. texting and tweeting, I am talking to my MC.
  7. eating, I am eating but it’s at my computer so I can catch up on email, blogs and news.
  8. reading, well,  I might be reading.
  9. showering, I am showering, but usually in writing mode with no way to write down the brilliant idea that came to me.
  10. working out, I am exercising my brain wishing it would burn 300 calories an hour.
  11. cutting the grass, I am letting the grass grow to revise another chapter, or paragraph, or sentence.
  12. cooking, I am throwing something in the crockpot to go revise another chapter, or paragraph, or sentence.

You gotta love writing to be this crazy!

What is humor?

Humor is… despair refusing to take itself seriously.

Arland Ussher (b. 1899 – d. 1980) Anglo-Irish academic, essayist and translator.

Genuine humor


“Laughter without a tinge of philosophy is but a sneeze of humor. Genuine humor is replete with wisdom.” Mark Twain