#beingthemoment – words and mindfulness

I sometimes doubt my words.

I started a story this morning that turned out to be about a magical tree.  A magical tree?  Hasn’t that been done already?  Done and done, as they say.

Almost before I had written the first sentence a little voice in my brain said, “That story’s been told.  You are not doing anything new.  Who’s going to care?”

Words.

All I have are words.

Playwright Sarah Ruhl, in her wonderful book 100 Essays I Don’t Have Time to Write: On Umbrellas and Sword Fights, Parades and Dogs, Fire Alarms, Children, and Theater, says this:

If it is true that there is nothing new under the sun and that there are only two or three basic human stories worth telling, then the contribution of the playwright is not necessarily the story itself but the way the story is told, word for word. (p. 25)

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And here is the tree that I wrote about:

Creative Commons License
tree by Robert Couse-Baker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

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I have spent so many moments in my writing career second-guessing my writing.  Only when I focus my attention on the words, on the beauty of a word, on the surprising aspects of one word against the next, only when I give my words their space, do I make my writing come alive.

I have started listening to the Merriam-Webster Word of the Day podcast.  The words I discover by listening to the two-minute-long explanation and usage notes enchant me.  ReciprocateGrimalkinTatterdemalion.

Being with words?  It is my way of being in the moment.

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What is your relationship with words?  Do you collect words that are special or significant?  How do you know when you have found exactly the right word?

15 thoughts on “#beingthemoment – words and mindfulness

  1. Grimalkin is also the name of the very old Faery cat that helps the MC in the Iron Fey books – no coincidence there 😉 We all feel from time to time that our words, our stories don’t contribute much, that they’ve been used/told before. But Sarah Ruhl’s right: you haven’t told that story yet in your own unique way. Not convinced? Look at the many different ways the Cinderella folktale was rewritten during your Cinderella-project… Keep writing, Theresa: it’s like anything else, it only gets better with time 🙂

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    1. That happens! I’m like that too, sometimes. I try to enjoy the sound and feel of the word, and the story about where it came from or what it’s like or different from. It’s like a little short-story in itself!

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  2. Theresa I was wondering if you would be interested ( or have time) in posting a review of any favorite short story? It is for the story club venture. No pressure please I understand that you may have other prioriries. If you have any questions please mail me at mysilverstreaks@gmail.com Thanks!

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  3. I remember back in grade school one of my favorite assignments was when you had to take the list of vocabulary words for the week and use them all in a story!! I couldn’t wait for that assignment! It was the only homework that I truly enjoyed doing!! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I thought the same about writing the familiar or unoriginal when I was writing that flash for Cracked Flash (which won – yay!) because my friend and business partner, my beta reader 🙂 said it is like something she has read before. Luckily, Ronel did say that there are only a few stories and we find new and different ways to tell them… or something like that. Same as what you wrote here.

    I like to look for new words but my memory isn’t good anymore. I blame all the multi-tasking I did for years. Haha! We keep trying. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Anne – I know! It’s your words, your words and the way you put them together on the page, that makes the difference. And, I would say, even the emotion or the meaning behind them, what you have experienced in your life, etc., that gives the words a special flavor. Very nice! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So true. 🙂 So, we have a reason to keep writing and re-telling. Each of us has something new or significant to say even just to one person, or a person at a time. Hugs my friend. xxx

        Liked by 1 person

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