Monday, July 11, 2011

Harvesting words

"The words! I collected them in all shapes and sizes and hung them like bangles in my mind." ~Hortense Calisher, Extreme Magic

Like most writers, I'm in love with words. I collect them. Whenever I hear or read one I particularly like, either because of its sound or its meaning or the thoughts or memories associated with it, I write it down, filing it away in my collection. Sometimes I bring these words out when I want to freewrite, using one as a prompt and seeing where it takes me. Other times I simply read my list, enjoying the sound and beauty of the language.

One of the first words I absolutely adored was identification. I was very young, but I remember reciting that word over and over again, spelling it out loud in the car and during dinner. When I couldn't spell or say it aloud--when I was brushing my teeth, for example--I would recite it over and over in my mind. I loved--and still do now--the cadence of the word, the way it feels on the tongue; the rhythm it makes as it's spelled, all of the letters pairing up so neatly: id-en-ti-fi-ca-ti-on. I must have driven my parents crazy...

Do you harvest words? What's your earliest memory of a word you love?


  1. Most definitely. I fell in love with the cacophony a while ago :)

  2. I love the quote you used at the start of this post!

    I'm currently trying to find a way to use the word "scintillating" in my book. I guess I didn't harvest that word, but it's stuck in my head and probably won't leave until I use it!

  3. Carolyn, I agree--"cacophony" is a beautiful word!

    Scott, I love that quote, too. Isn't it great!

    Good luck including "scintillating" in your WIP. :)