Do you ever look at a word and think, that word should be in a story. I do! It’s almost as though the word speaks to me, asking me to create a longer work that features the word. so that the word can live, and be thought of in peoples’ minds.
I have a new story today that features several words from my fellow blogger/writer athling2001‘s “word-of-the-day” posts on her blog “A Writer’s Life.” Here are the words I used, and a brief description for each word:
- Bouquinist – second-hand book seller
- machair – a strip of sandy grassy land just above the hog-water mark used for grazing, only in the north-west of Scotland and the north-west of Ireland
- velleity – wishing but not really doing something
- mesonoxian – “pertaining to the hour of midnight”
- gorget – bright patch of feathers on the throat of a hummingbird OR a piece of armor or linen covering/protecting the throat
- cryptaesthesia – “allegedly paranormal perception, as clairvoyance or clairaudience”
Here is my story!
It wasn’t that she’d always wanted to be a Bouquiniste. Being a second-hand bookseller was not something one aspires to, or at least not in Marianne’s case. She took the job right out of college when she didn’t have anything else, and it was conveniently located two blocks away from her little apartment on 45th Street. The owner, an Irishwoman with seven generations of family from coastal Ireland (as she often told Marianne) was always muttering odd Irish words, like machair (MAK-uh). Much later, when Marianne decided to teach herself Irish using Duolingo, she discovered machair meant “a strip of sandy grassy land just above the hog-water mark used for grazing,” particularly used in the northwest of Ireland.
Marianne didn’t wish to stay in the dusty, small, and decidedly too-quiet used bookshop for ever. It was vellity that kept her there, a sort of aversion to looking for another job, let alone pursuing a Career (with a capital “C”).
Perhaps her resistance was a reaction to her parent’s continual nagging, or “reminding” as they put it, that she’d once said vaguely that she intended to go to graduate school. Her mother, a pediatrician, would say, “Have you taken the GRE yet, Marianne?” and her father, an urban planner, would ask her (more gently) if she had any notion yet of what master’s program she would like to enroll in.
It was maddening.
Marianne took to staying up into the wee hours of the morning, becoming mesonoxian, and reveling in it. She didn’t go out and party, she didn’t hit the bars at that time of night. She read.
She read. She read all of Dickens, all of Edith Wharton and D. H. Lawrence. (Her favorite of Lawrence’s work was Lady Chatterley’s Lover, all that longing and embrassive non-classness.) She read Willa Cather and Robert Frost and Nathaniel Hawthorne. (The House of the Seven Gables made her shiver with apprehension.)
But one does not become Something through negative application of effort. She needed to do something, to propel herself in one way or another. Through her reading Marianne had collected words, the more abstruse the better, such as the word gorget (gor-jet), meaning the bright patch of feathers on a hummingbird’s throat. She thought she could see the flash of feathers that the word meant. What a thing! – to have a word to mean such a small idea, the sight of colored feathers on the neck of a very tiny bird. Ah.
All those words. All that literature. It came together one day when Marianne, fresh from reading Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility, decided she must channel the Marianne from Austen’s book. Perhaps it was cryptaesthesia, the sense of extrasensory perception, that made her feel connected to Jane Austen, to Charlotte Brontë, to Collette.
She would be a writer. She would give life to all those words she had collected, written in a fine square hand in a small lab notebook she had picked up at the local stationery store. She would begin with the first word – and proceed through until she reached the end, inventing sentences and phrases, giving life to words crying out to be spoken again, putting them into a story, into a new creative thing that had her mind in it.
The title of her first story? “The Importance of Being Irish”: the story of a young woman who decides to learn the Irish language, and then is magically transported back in time to the era of Irish Kings, back to mythological Ireland.
Do you collect words? Who are your favorite authors? What fictional character would you most like to channel?