[Oxymoron – the use of two words that contradict each other, like ‘wise fool.’]
How can I, or anyone, teach another to write?
Well, that’s the point. I don’t offer a creative writing class to teach how to write, but to point out the importance of using the right words – to name things correctly – when creating a story. Even more importantly, I offer small (writing) steps that each of us can use to help our pen move.
If the pen moves, we connect.
Brain, pen, soul, body, back to pen, brain, soul equals a story worth telling.
That’s my theory, although others may debunk it.
Debunk – where the heck does that word ever come from? This is why I’m glad I don’t have the Oxford English Dictionary close at hand. If I did, I’d never write a thing. I’d be too fascinated with the word or phrase and need to look it up and study it.
Which reminds me of a 15-page essay I wrote for my college senior honors English class. The assignment? Pick a word – any word – and inspect, research, pick apart, put together, its meaning from the beginning of the word’s existence.
I picked W I G H T, my last name, and I studied the word the way a scholar studies rocks in ancient lava. I learned the base beginning of wight, a true English word, and I loved the metaphor of its meaning, and what that meant to me.
Wight is a Middle English word, from Old English wiht, and used to describe a creature or living sentient being. It is akin to Old High German wiht, meaning a creature or thing.
At 20, that’s how I viewed myself. A creature, a living sentient being, a pebble just learning to become a rock, wondering how Wight, the essence of me – my name and my person -would develop through the years.
Yet, all I am, all we all are, really, is a wight. A sentient being here to become perhaps a whit more of a wight by the end of our time.
Yes, I used to think that way, back in college (and truth be told, still do).
“For [Aleyn] had swonken al the longe nyght, And seyde, ‘Fare weel, Malyne, sweete wight!’ “ (Geoffrey Chaucer (1368-1372), The Reeve’s Tale)
Thus, during that senior year when a boyfriend presented me with a silver bracelet engraved with his last name, hinting that when we married, I’d then share his name, I bolted.
Wight I was, and a wight I would always be.
Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet.” Romeo and Juliet (II, ii, 1-2)
Unlike Shakespeare’s Juliet, I learned then the connection I had to my name and to my essence of being.
And I began the slow strong journey to understanding the importance of the words we use – the correct naming of characters and settings and ideas – as we write our stories.