All through this November, one thing is on my mind more often than not: words.
Sure, we can call them characters, plots, descriptions, sentences, paragraphs, pages—but, ultimately, they’re words.
Words which portray emotion, transfer ideas, get you going like no other thing, and hit you right into the plexus if they’re the right ones. Words which can make you cry, make you laugh, make you wanna sit down the author and tell them, word by word, the things they got wrong and the things they got right. Words which can make even (future) librarians hurt books, throw them against a wall in anger (Hold Tight), burn them (Il mistero dell’Unicorno), or even go as far as to read their authors’ original inspiration (Mletački sokol, The Magicians).
They are, also, words which can make you sorta obsessive in a different direction, when you’re a creator of words—I mean user, unless you’re wiriting sci-fi or fantasy and such—who has to bring out all sort of words in a large amout, buckets of words, day after day after day. Counting words sounds like a crime—and they are not a limited resource—but basically every word processor lets you check, pretty easily, exactly how far you’ve gone into a novel, and that tells you, basically, nothing.
Because the number of words can’t tell you shit about the actual action in a scene, or if you’ve managed to get the reader to care about the characters, or if you’re going in the right direction with your plots. On the other hand, it’s incredible to think that most of us writing in a single language use most of the same words—just words—but still somehow manage to say completely different things. Doesn’t that make words magic?*
“Use your words” is a direct quote from my favourite Reylo fic, which opposes the statement to something like “Use your rage.” The answer, I believe, is somewhere in between the two extremes—but it needs to contain elements of both; words and emotion. And that’s the tough part about writing. It’s also kinda fun, because it feels a bit like cheating, and a bit like doing magic tricks—words can do almost anything if you use them right, and that’s… well, that’s scary. Words are, to me, maybe the most precious form of human communication, and that makes them, in a way—and I’m scared to say it, even though it’s just a word—sacred.
Using words, finally, to say something about words, is enough of a challenge to make me wanna give up writing for the rest of the day (or maybe it’s the fatigue from writing twenty days straight alongside having a day job and a life), but this exercise in writing was fun, too, so I’ll just have to
whine about deal with it.
*even outside settings like the Earthsea, or many others, where you can use a word to do magic.
Photo by Kristina D. C. Hoeppner.