I love quotes, phrases, and how words are used to communicate. It’s fitting that at dictionary.com, the verb ‘word’ is defined as: to choose and use particular words in order to say or write something.
I’m always amazed at how people put together their words the way they do. Many times, in my head I find I articulate well. But when I write the words down, they don’t always sound the same way they did in my head. Does anyone else struggle with this? I’m thinking I’m not the only one. Or so I hope. But, I digress.
Definitions. Synonyms. Words by themselves. Words strung together. I love words. Go figure that Words of Affirmation is my love language (if you don’t know what that means — check out the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Interesting insight into why and how people show love differently) and that I got my BA in Communications.
Words are a curious thing. How you say them, spell them, and use them can change what they mean. We have rules for these words and we take classes our entire school career to learn what those rules are. And yet, there’s still a variety of ways people string words together.
I don’t think it’s a new phenomenon. Diary’s and journals have been around since the beginning of time. But most of those private musings never saw the light of day. However, with the internet explosion and the plethora of blogs out there, not to mention the ease of self-publishing, anyone can express themselves however they want and post it for others to read.
Some writers use big words that I have to mull over and think about before I can continue on, while others write in a way young kids can follow. Some use clever prose, others are straightforward. Some write very long sentences, while others write less. All. The. Time. I find I enjoy reading it all.
One book series titled, Short & Sweet, is a compilation of one page poems and stories all written in one syllable words. Each book has had a different theme. I thought it interesting, so I gave it a try and submitted a piece titled “When God Calls” to the third compilation, which is titled The Short & Sweet of It. When the Right Word is a Short Word. The focus of these submissions were things that matter deeply to the authors and my piece is based on the Bible verse Matthew 11:28-30 —“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” I wrote a short poem from my heart and I couldn’t be more excited as it’s my first published work.
The book is launching this month and my piece is on page 77. It’s being sold on Amazon and Barnes & Nobles. (See links below.)
Besides one syllable word books, there are more specialized books on words. If you are anything like me, you own more than one dictionary and thesaurus. At used book stores I like to look for unique and different types of dictionaries to use for references. Recently I learned about a new word. You may have heard it before, but it’s new to me. It’s called ‘Etymology’. At first I thought it was about body parts or an animal species. It’s not!
Isn’t that awesome?!
Apparently, this has been a thing for quite some time. I looked on Amazon and there are numerous books on the subject (some of which are now on my wish list). As I researched further on the internet, I found a website dedicated to the topic, https://www.etymonline.com/.
For those of us who write historical, this might give us an entire new source of understanding how or why a character would use a word. My favorite part in the few words I tried out, is the listing of slang words.
For instance, I looked up the word farm. Besides an overview on the definition it lists two slang phrases:
Fetch the farm: prisoner slang for “get sent to the infirmary”
Buy the farm: world war II slang for “die in battle”.
Now, if I was writing a World War II piece or a Civil War piece, I might use one of these. But alas, I’m not. But, the next time I’m looking for a something more on a word, I’ll use this as a resource and see where it leads.
Especially when we use them to communicate to others. Whether it’s in a private letter, an article, a novel or a blog post, words are put together to read and enjoy.
Just like you read and enjoyed this post, right?
I started writing this post with a simple topic given how busy I am, yet it quickly turned into a deep-thought, look inside my heart observation.
Since December, I’ve been choreographing and assistant directing Beauty & the Beast, Jr at my son’s school. All fifty-five (55) 5th-8th graders and one-hundred twenty-six K-4th graders. Yep, you read that correctly —181 kids.
This is my sixth show. I love to create an overall vision in my head, work with each piece one by one, then put them all together at the end to entertain and tell a beautiful story. Sharing the experience of live theater with these kids is so much fun. And it’s been a blessing to do this over these years with all three of my sons when they have been at school here (my youngest is cast as Cogsworth this year).
I work with three other wonderful women and a whole slew of volunteers to be able to pull this off. Lots of layers. Lots of details. Staging, sets, costumes, make-up, shoes, and so much more. All parts of the whole in the musical theater form of storytelling. Much like writing a book.
My very first blog post on A Slice of Orange, was on this three years ago. About how each piece matches setting, POV, dialogue and more. I talked about my confidence growing year over year each time I do one of these shows and that it’s the same with my writing.
But as I was writing these words, another thought intruded.
As I’ve taught the kids their steps and where they stand or move, the drama director talks with them about their acting and the music director works on their singing. I am one of many to pull this off and I have no problem showing what I’ve created to the team, asking for feedback and together figuring out what should change.
It should be the same thing. I do not need to work alone to create my manuscript. There are people who are willing and able to help me. I can learn and grow from working with others, especially if I’m sharing my words with people who are stronger in the areas I am not.
As I sit and ponder this a while, I realize words are very personal to me. I’m a journal writer and I love to write what I’m thinking or feeling. Thoughts and feelings are not wrong – they are real. Before I write something, I listen to my heart, what I feel, what I believe and then put words on a page.
However there are patterns and formulas and specific skills to writing a novel and all those elements need to be in there as well. The longer I’ve been working on this, the more my brain understands the rules, patterns, and formulas for fiction writing. To put in the specific elements in order for it to become a viable readable story. That it’s not about my thoughts and feelings.
My brain seems to understand it, but my heart still takes what I write very personal.
Why do I do this?
I don’t have an answer to that yet. But maybe I can try to understand a little better.
I have been choreographing and dancing longer than I’ve been writing fiction. And I believe I’m more of a natural with it, than I am with the writing.
But, I want to be a natural writer. Just sit down and write it all out. But when I think about it, I’ve been studying dance all my life.
And I understand the nitty, gritty details that makes a good dance number.
Also, I have put hours into dissecting the music and characters and how they move and the timing before I taught the kids anything. And when something didn’t work I have gone back and reworked it.
Do I study my manuscript word for word to make sure it is the best it can be?
See, I told you I was doing some deep soul-searching. I love to write like this. It actually comes easier to me than writing a made-up story. So, maybe if I accept this about myself, I’ll have an easier time being open to learning and sharing my writing—all to make the stories in my head and heart be able to come to fruition. Which is ultimately the goal. Not for my writing to be perfect, but for my stories to be published, presented, performed…I think you get the picture.
Do you have something you struggle with in your writing?
Is it difficult for you to share your words with others?
I would love to hear from you. (And If I don’t respond right away, it’s because I’m backstage working a show this week.)
With Valentine’s Day around the corner, I thought covering a special Disney couple would be fun. Our family loves all Disney movies and WALL-E is no exception. We’ve watched it several times and the last time, several things struck me about the way WALL-E and EVE find their Happily Ever After. So I started writing down what I observed. Yes, they are cute and all the antics are quite entertaining, but with three teenage boys in my house, I asked myself would I want them to follow WALL-E’s path to love?
♥ Approach a girl and she fires at you, ignores you and then breaks your things.
♥ Show her something beautiful and she takes it and doesn’t give it back.
♥ Try to teach her to dance and she throws you against the wall.
♥ Be romantic and get no response. Zip. Zilch. Natta.
♥ Try to hold her hand and get hurt in the process.
♥ Chase her and she’ll carry you out of your world.
♥ Help her save her world and lose yourself in the process
♥ And then finally, she rushes to save you. And when she kisses you – the spark is large enough that your old self comes back again.
I love it when Eve finally sees all that Wall-e does for her and how it changes her view of him. We all want someone to see the true us. And love us for who we are. Wall-e never wavers in his caring for Eve. And in the end, they both grow and change and open their hearts and find their Happily Ever After.
I think the stories we write are a lot like this. Our poor characters are pushed and pulled through some rough times, but in the end they change and grow and their world is a better place because of that.
I’m just not sure I want to watch my boys go through all that in real life…well, maybe if they find someone who loves them as they are and brings out the best in them and they have a happily ever after. Then, maybe I would.
Happy Writing & Happy Valentine’s Day Blessings!
Denise M. Colby
I love choosing a new word to focus on each year. It’s amazing how one word can communicate so much. My word fits exactly where I am both in my personal and professional life and I love to explore the word in depth, as well as find verses and quotes to encourage me throughout the year.
This year will be my fourth time selecting a word as a theme of focus. Usually, I make a list, pray about it, mull it over and see which ones I’m drawn to continuously. But this year? It came up while I was reading the Story of With by Allen Arnold, and as much as I wanted to keep thinking of other words, it stuck to me like glue. Lodged itself inside my heart and left no room for discussing any other option, no matter how hard I tried.
What is the word?
Isn’t that a great word?
Just to be sure, I looked up the definition and did a quick search for bible verses and sure enough it encompasses everything I feel going into 2018.
See, I don’t want to look back. I want to focus on what’s ahead. In both my writing and my faith in God. It may be slow going at times, but it will be steady. What’s that phrase we’ve all heard before?
I’m not going to rush, hurry, stress myself out over the fact I’ve been working on my novel for over four years. It isn’t ready yet and only continuous steady work is what will make it better. I will do what I can and when it’s time, it will be time. That’s the idea, anyway. I have an entire year to keep reminding myself of this.
To help, I always select a few bible verses with my word in it. Last year’s word, strength, had an amazing amount of verses to give me encouragement throughout the year. Steadfast only has five in my NIV adaptation. And two really stood out to me:
Psalm 57:7 – My heart is steadfast, O God, my heart is steadfast. I will sing and make music (and write words—my addition).
Psalm 112:7 – He will have no fear of bad news; his heart is steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Encouraging, aren’t they?
I’m super excited for exploring my word further. Just now, I typed in the phrase slow and steady wins the race and a whole bunch of other quotes popped up. I’ll have to go through them at a later time, but one grabbed my attention and I wanted to share:
I think I might print that one out for my entire family to see.
Oh, this year will be fun exploring #myword2018 #steadfast! You’ll see me post things to my social media related to my word, because I like to encourage others and it will help keep me on task. To be steadfast in my writing. Continuously and sure.
Have you ever considered choosing a word for 2018? I would encourage you to think about it and try it out if you haven’t. And if you have, I would love to hear in the comments what your word is for 2018.
Denise M. Colby
Although new to the writing fiction world, Denise Colby has over 20+ years experience in marketing, creating different forms of content and copy for promotional materials. Taking the lessons learned from creating her own author brand Denise M. Colby, Denise enjoys sharing her combined knowledge with other authors.
If you are interested in a marketing evaluation and would like help in developing a strategy for your author brand you can find out more here http://denisemcolby.com/marketing-for-authors/