Wandering Words

Apologies for the tardy post.
First, I got a late start.
Then an old friend called midway in the writing of this,
and we talked longer than I thought.


One of my friends is a poet. Every day he writes at least one poem that he sends to me. Most are short. A lot of them make me laugh. A few bring a tear. Some are profound.

Today's poem was about wandering words. He compares them to orphans searching for a home.

Think about that.

How many times do we use words familiar to us in our work? These words are like family.

I'm not especially talking about those that make our Search & Destroy lists - like just and was. I'm talking about other words that everyone knows.

I was going to give some examples here, but I realized that like our Search & Destroy lists, these words are probably different for each of us. My own tend to vary by project and even by chapter.

These are everyday words. Words that often are shortcuts. There's nothing wrong with them, but we use them more often than we should and rarely recognize that we do so.

So here you are, deep in the story, writing away, and you raise your gaze from the screen for a moment to give your eyes a rest. Look! On the horizon . . . see those words in the scraggly line?

Call to them.

When they approach, look them over. Have a chat with one or two. Do any look familiar? See if there are any in the bunch that might be willing to stick around for a bit, maybe do a little work for you.

Who knows?

You might even find a new member for your word family.


Aubrie said…
This is such a great post! One of those wandering words for me is: diaphonous. I should always seek out new words. :)
What a wonderful post, Carol! I have my hunted words which I destroy ruthlessly, but those magical words are usually discovered by using my thesaurus. Sometimes I am a bear with a very little brain.
kimberlyloomis said…
Great post! I'm now totally thinking about making a little bulletin board with a nifty little graphic in the header to create a "Search & Destroy" list. :) I suffer from pronoun confusion and the word "that" continues to haunt me.

Thanks, Carol!
Carol Kilgore said…
Aubrie - Great word! Now I'll have to try to find a place to use it.

Elspeth - I use the thesaurus a lot, too.

Kimberly - 'That' can be a huge bugaboo. I still delete my fair share of those, too.
Mason Canyon said…
I love this post. I knew a guy once that said you should learn one new word a week as well as a way to use that word. Funny, that's the only good thing I remember about him. LOL
Joanne said…
I've done the Search & Destroy thing, but haven't gone on a search for NEW words. What a great idea, to keep a file of the little gems we come across ... thanks!
Southpaw said…
Helpful post. Thanks.
Carol Kilgore said…
I'm glad you found it helpful.
Helen Ginger said…
As an editor, I zap words all day long. Wordy words. Repetitive words. Wrong words. Misspelled words. Misused words. Seven words when two would be better.

It's easier to spot them in the work of others than it is to see and kill them in your own work.

Straight From Hel
Terry Odell said…
I find those mundane words on a second read, usually in hard copy. They hide too easily on the computer screen.

But there's always the caveat -- don't use "writerly" sounding words; they're probably not your voice.
Carol Kilgore said…
Is anyone else having trouble with Blogger today? Each comment I've left on other blogs has taken me two or three attempts. I finally gave up to try again later.

Then it wouldn't let me comment here on my own blog!

So I went away for a couple hours and I'm trying again.

So thanks to all of you for commenting. I hope it didn't take you as long as my few comments so far today have taken me.

BTW, I totally agree about those writerly-sounding words.
Good post! Something new to ponder now.
Words are powerful, powerful things. Use judicially, and sometimes, with caution.

Best Wishes, Galen.
Elana Johnson said…
This is such an inspiring post. I definitely use some words too much, and could use some new friends.
Sheila Deeth said…
Then there's those other words that are more like teenagers refusing to buckle down and go to college.
Woo hoo! I'm your 50th follower! How cool is that?

I loved your post. I found you by way of Karen Gowen. I'm so glad. Loved the poem at the beginning.

Feel free to stop by and become a follower at my blog too. Maybe you'll win my contest.
Words are so incredible. I love them like a lover. I love them love them. Yes, I abuse them-but I don't mean to. Yes, I dream about them but they are sweet dreams.

Great post.

PS. I couldn't make your post a comment link shows it face for a while.
Carol Kilgore said…
Alex - Ponder away!

Galen - I agree. Writers, especially, need to choose their words with care. Sometimes, I dash off something without really paying attention. I always wonder if it's going to come back and bite me.

Elana - Your posts definitely inspire me, so I'm happy I could return the favor.

Sheila - I had to smile at your words.

Melissa - Whee! I'm excited. If I knew how to insert fireworks into the comments, there'd be some right here. I hope you'll visit and comment again.
Carol Kilgore said…
Teresa - Blogger has given me fits all day. I'm sorry you had a problem, too. I'm glad you enjoyed the post.
VR Barkowski said…
Terrific post! I adore the word shimmy. Water shimmies, words shimmy on the page, chills shimmy down spines etc. Unfortunately, it's a word that tends to stand out, so one shimmy per mss is all I allow myself.
Carol Kilgore said…
Ooh, shimmy is good. My 'shimmy' word is slather. Once is enough for it, too.