The Importance of a Thesaurus

Over winter break I ventured out of my cave to join my family in a seven hour car ride to our origin state of Idaho- where my parents were born and raise- to gather in a single household with the rest of the Marshall side of the family for Christmas. Remarkably, the drive was not unpleasant, made bearable by the my little brothers noise-cancelling headphones and the fact that my parents actually have pretty good taste in music. The first hour or so flew by so swiftly I hardly noticed and I was just beginning to believe that maybe the rest of break would go just as smoothly when I picked up my backpack to retrieve my book. As I set the backpack on my lap, I couldn’t help but note how unusually light it felt on my legs. Dread trickled over me as I peered inside, already fully aware of what was missing. My mother nearly leaped from her seat as I bellowed out in agony.

I had forgotten my Thesaurus.

In my defense, my mother is not hard to scare, so I assure you my reaction was less dramatic (though, not by much)

In my defense it is not difficult to scare my mother, so I assure you my exclamation was less dramatic (though, not by much)

Turning to face me she asked what was wrong. But when I explained my tragedy to her, she merely blinked, puzzled.

“I’m sorry…?” She offered hesitantly. “Can you just use an online Thesaurus until you get home? Or I’m sure Aunt Jenifer will have one at her house.”

“Yes, but it’s not my Thesaurus!”

My father chuckled. “You’ll be fine.”

But I wouldn’t be…

For the rest of break, whenever I shared my distress with another relative, I experienced much the same response.

How was it that no one could comprehend my affliction? And not only would they disregard my melancholy, they would have the gull to propose I resort to another Thesaurus! As though I would even subscribe to such infidelity!

My Thesaurus was the only Thesaurus for me. Yes, I had been with others before it; pocket Thesauruses that boasted their easy portability as well as Library Thesauruses which I may have taken out for a one-night-essay or two. But none fit me quite as well as my Thesaurus. It’s sturdy, robust build. It’s kind, straight-forward organization. It’s truly extensive vocabulary. And I had even marked all of my favorite words with pink tabs. Then I marked the markers of my favorite, favorite words. My Thesaurus was truly mine.

You you're jealous of my mad photoshop skills

You know you’re jealous of my mad photoshop skills

I loved it with all my heart and I had left it behind, sorrowful and abandoned, on my bed in Olympia.

Guilt stricken, I waited out the rest of break until my Thesaurus was back in my arms.

I would like to wrap up this post with a word to my fellow writers; If you have yet to find your Thesaurus- a Thesaurus that you can rely on at every turn, that suites your every writing need, and that teaches you to love and respect words- I fear you may be unwittingly stunting yourself. The Thesaurus is the writer’s life force. It understands our language better than we do, reaching into the depths of vocabulary to pull the words from the tips of our tongues onto the page. As writer’s, our job is to communicate- to share the inner-workings of our minds with whoever will listen so as to bring inspiration or sorrow or madness or humor into their lives if only for but a minute. And how can we do so if we are not picky about the lexicon we use? For, as you flip through your Thesaurus, you will find that each and every word has its very own meaning that should not be forsaken for the sake of ease. I am in no way implying that I am a better or more experienced writer than the next aspiring author. However, I have found that my Thesaurus has not only broadened my vocabulary and helped me advance in skill, but also find a passion for words that I did not possess before that makes the act of writing both more enjoyable and gratifying. (As you may have been able to tell, I had a little bit too much fun with this post.) And I simply wish to share this delightful secret with you.

William Zinsser once wrote that you should never settle for the wrong word. “The Thesaurus is to the writer what a rhyming dictionary is to the songwriter- a reminder of all the choices- and you should use it with gratitude.” (On Writing Well Page 35)

Blogging is Hard

I cannot seem to focus at all today.

My mind has been avoiding focusing on my school work and yet also seems to dislike the idea of settling on any other thought or activity. It’s like a little kid at an amusement park that can’t seem to decide on which ride to go on first. Except, instead of eventually making a list of favorites and going on each ride one after the other like a somewhat intelligent human being, it just keeps freaking out and running in circles.

“I want to take notes on the reading from last night! No! I want to do some free writing! No! I should clean my room! Do the reading for today! OMG CRAFTS!!!”

a.baa-This-is-one-lazy-dog

And then it crashes completely and I end up blogging instead.

I am actually surprised at how long I have managed to stay fixed on this, especially considering how much grief this site has caused me over the last two days…

…Actually, scratch that. I am the cause of my own grief.

You see, WordPress is brilliant. It may not be the easiest to use, but it is highly professional and has yet to be taken over by Google so it earns two thumbs up in my book. Where I seem to be hitting a wall is on the fact that WordPress is a website, thus it is on the interwebs, thus it is on the computer and computers are not my friends. I’m telling you right now, my incompetence when it comes to technology is astounding.

It took me a total of four and a half hours to get RantsAndRhythms up and running and the first post published. I didn’t even write that poem yesterday. It’s an older work I’ve had sitting around forever. All I had to do was type it up and post it! I swear to God, it took me forever! And don’t even get my started on the “About” page! (Seriously, wtf?) And after finally getting everything set up, I had to navigate the interwebs to find other blogs?!

(this is all especially sad because my father is a software developer)

As you can tell (I think…?) I did eventually figure it out. But I’m not about to say I am an expert so I would like to reach out and ask for some help.

I checked my blog this morning to find that I already have FOUR FOLLOWERS! (I honestly don’t care if it is inappropriate to be so excited) So, first off, I would like to thank you Uncanny Derek, Kimalee Jones, johncoyote, and sfoxwriting. You made my day with the click of a button.

Now, I’m not saying that just because you followed my blog we need to be besties, but if you would like to further add to my happiness I’d appreciate a little help. As I’ve stated, computers and I don’t get along and, despite this, I would like to avoid this conversation with myself:

“Why is blogging so goddamn hard?!”

It’s not that hard, you just suck.

“No, you suck!”

I am your mind.

“You’re right! I suck!”

So, please, help me out and offer any advice you can think of. Anything at all. Even if its just a stream of random words. I will decipher them into wisdom (though, actual wisdom would be preferable).

And now, I must be back to my schoolwork. Or, at least, I must try. I honestly can’t guarantee  anything though considering how today has been going.

unnamed

Like, actually though…wtf, Emma?

Think about it

What do you think about
when writing a poem?
When your pen or pencil hits paper
     or your fingernails click
against computer keys?
 
When the letters begin to appear?
 
Is it the idea?
The message in your head?
Your desire to communicate with a total stranger,
to disrupt their world for a moment
and make them think…
 
Do you think of how it will take them
      a second or two
to understand the metaphor and
have that
      Aha!
    moment
that makes great poetry great?
 
Or do you think at all?
Do you simply let the words flow
mindlessly into meaning
until they are naturally beautiful
or hideous?
 
I, personally, think about
how much 
I like my handwriting,
how comely it is when it flows
and how much I hate
when it is disrupted 
by my hand sliding off
         the bottom
              of
                     the
 
page.