Tuesday, October 23, 2007

the artful arrangement of words

I just came from a reading by Amy Tan where she talked about what made her a writer. She never set out to write fiction but she had a life that she could see stories in. She says she read the Thesaurus and saw not synonyms and antonyms but pictures. I think this is interesting because I am somewhat of a wordsmith myself. I love words not for the definitions but for the feelings, emotions, pictures, and thoughts they evoke. Finding the right combination of words to create a story is the tricky part. Often, I also have to find the right combination of words to define a concept for the world. As a technical writer, I am a liaison to users I will never meet so my writing has to be somewhat universal. At the least, translatable. How do you translate the feelings, emotions, pictures, and thoughts words evoke in you?

As a writer, do you worry if your readers will interpret your stories incorrectly? Will Cliff's Notes at least get it partially right for that student who chooses not to read Margery Kempe? (I remember loathing this book with its bright yellow cover in a college Women's Studies class) I doubt Margery the medieval woman mystic ever thought women of the 21st century would interpret her writing. But we do. That's the charade of writing. It will forever be interpreted as long as someone is willing to put the words to print. I can't help but wonder, how far are my interpretations from the writer's true meaning?

Monday, October 22, 2007

bouquets of sharpened pencils

I'm a sucker for office supplies. There's something about brightly-colored file folders, super sticky post-it notes, crayons, and #2 lead pencils that make me excited to work during the day. I'm a writer and sadly, the world has been overtaken by keyboards and online newspapers. I'm also a tree hugger so I don't mind so much that we are conserving paper by reading our favorite newspapers online. I traded in my favorite post-it pads today for a homemade pad of paper made of neon orange paper scraps and rubber cement.

What is it about Autumn that wakes the spirit? It's the blustery wind bringing nearby grill smells to your nose. It's falling leaves and finding acorns with their hats still attached. It's watching your favorite movie with a white porcelain mug of hot chocolate. Autumn signals the beginning of the winter holidays and summer's siesta.

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