For someone who is self-described word-
nazi genius, some words don’t appeal to me. They never have. They never will. You’ll never catch me using those words in real life because I find them repulsive. BFF #1 and I were talking about my excessive use of flowery words and I said, “I probably wouldn’t say that if I were drunk.” And she said, “I’m pretty sure there’s not a difference. I’m fairly certain that you totally use those words when you’re hammered.” Okay…. she’s got a point there. I do.
I admit it. I like using big words. I like *learning* big words. In my senior year of high school, I took Creative Writing with Dr. Specht and two words that I learned in that class were “genuflect” and “obsequious.” And I use those words to this day. I love words. Love is an understatement, but I won’t use the actual word that I am thinking because I don’t want to appear pompous. Okay. I will. I am enamored with words. I love them.
But I get this blog post in my email from The Novel Doctor. Basically, a post about the word I never use. It’s interesting. Read it, if you want (this guy is pretty inspirational, so I recommend that you check him out, especially if you’re a writer). But the premise of the post is that by limiting my use of that word, or any word, I am simply limiting my story. I’m not allowing the idiosyncrasies of my story out. I force those mannerisms of the characters in my stories and poems into a box. I stifle truism.
Now for some, you may wonder, “Is it a curse word?” Nope. “Is it offensive? Racist?” Nope and nope. I’ve used words that would make you blush to convey *exactly* the right emotion that I need you feel. If I need to make you angry, I can prompt that. I need to aroused? I can do that, too. I need you to relax? I can even do that. I can elicit just about anything from you with my words. It’s a gift. And I use it all the time. Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t manipulate people, per se, with written or spoken word. But people want to be told a story. People like to have their imagination stimulated. I paint the pictures of my story for them, so they don’t have to invent it themselves.
So here is the word. You ready? Okay… flabbergasted. I hate that word. Fucking. Hate. It. It’s messy. It’s irritating. It doesn’t even sound right when you say it. Like it trips all over itself just to get off the tip of your tongue. It seems like a slacker. It feels disengaged with the words around it. Shocked. That is a fine word. But flabbergasted? Ugh. And, to be totally honest, it seems fat. There. I said it.
But The Novel Doctor makes an excellent point. Would the characters in my story feel that way, or am I projecting my random notions onto them? I know the answer, so don’t feel the need to point it out.
And then I think… it’s funny how we limit ourselves. The constraints that we place on our feelings and thoughts can be sneaky. It starts with flabbergasted. Then you don’t buy that new shirt. Then you choose not to go out one night. Then you start OCD habits like checking under the bed 17 times every night. Then you start eating soap. Then the world spins off its axis and gravity ceases to exist. And then we all float away into outer space and die. See? Is that what you want to happen?
I know I don’t. I’m flabbergasted at the thought. (Okay… I’m not really, but I’m making a point here.) So.. the moral of the story? Use that word. Buy the shirt. Go out tonight. And for God’s sake – don’t eat the soap!