Posts Tagged ‘writing’

And so it begins again

Yesterday, I sat down at my computer and wrote a sentence. It was not terribly meaningful or inspiring but it popped into my head so I wrote it. And that was the beginning of this month of madness that is beginning yet again. It’s NaNoWriMo time! Last year, if any of you were with me, you’ll remember that I had an entire conversation with Danda about my NaNoWriMo, in which he nodded and made all the correct understanding noises then asked me a few minutes later, “Who’s Nanny Rhino?” Thus, it became Nanny Rhino instead of NaNoWriMo. I decided to repost my summing up of last year’s effort today, to help me get in the mood.

“My Nanny Rhino journey began on November 1st, obviously. I sat down, wrote ‘The Food And I’ on the page (like that film, The King And I) and I started writing. The first thing I wrote about was microwave chips. Who knows why? It just came into my head so I wrote it. Then I wrote about squid. Then I had reached 1667 words and gone a little further than that. So I stopped. The next day I wrote about truffles. I hit my 1667 word count again. It was easy. I read posts on blogs about how by the end of this month of NaNoWriMo, friendships and marriages would have been tested to their max, mental states become frayed and mealtimes passed by in a haze. I didn’t know what they were talking about. The words flowed freely and I wondered if I’d stop at 50,000 or just keep going. I loved it.

And so it went, happily, uninterrupted, until November 10th.Then the invites to dinner came, the extra workload, the work I was meant to be doing from home, which I had cast aside for NaNoWriMo but which now really needed doing. I started carrying a pad with me to try and snatch bits of time to scribble something I could type up later.

For a whole week, NaNoWriMo didn’t get very much attention. I managed a few thousand but, by the time I got a few hours to sit at the computer, I was five days behind. There was nothing else for it. I sat down and wrote ten thousand words in a day and caught up.

The next day I was back to writing 1667 words and feeling good. Then the next few days, I was busy and when I next got to the computer, I started writing and the biggest load of nonsense found it’s way on to the page. Who wrote that drivel about nutmeg and limes? Shockingly enough, I did. I pretended all was fine and moved on hurriedly, excelling myself with my section about cheese.

I fell behind a few days from the end and squeezed four and a half thousand on to November 30th, the last day of NaNoWriMo. I finished on 50393 words. There is some nonsense, some slightly better stuff and some recipes.

All in all, I’m extremely pleased I undertook the challenge. I feel great having done it, although I haven’t yet got out of the habit of drifting to the computer as soon as I get in the house…”

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My Nanny Rhino journey

My Nanny Rhino journey began on November 1st, obviously. I sat down, wrote ‘The Food And I’ on the page (like that film, The King And I) and I started writing. The first thing I wrote about was microwave chips. Who knows why? It just came into my head so I wrote it. Then I wrote about squid. Then I had reached 1667 words and gone a little further than that. So I stopped. The next day I wrote about truffles. I hit my 1667 word count again. It was easy. I read posts on blogs about how by the end of this month of NaNoWriMo, friendships and marriages would have been tested to their max, mental states become frayed and mealtimes passed by in a haze. I didn’t know what they were talking about. The words flowed freely and I wondered if I’d stop at 50,000 or just keep going. I loved it. And so it went, happily, uninterrupted, until November 10th.

Then the invites to dinner came, the extra workload, the work I was meant to be doing from home, which I had cast aside for NaNoWriMo but which now really needed doing. I started carrying a pad with me to try and snatch bits of time to scribble something I could type up later. For a whole week, NaNoWriMo didn’t get very much attention. I managed a few thousand but, by the time I got a few hours to sit at the computer, I was five days behind. There was nothing else for it. I sat down and wrote ten thousand words in a day and caught up.

The next day I was back to writing 1667 words and feeling good. Then the next few days, I was busy and when I next got to the computer, I started writing and the biggest load of nonsense found it’s way on to the page. Who wrote that drivel about nutmeg and limes? Shockingly enough, I did. I pretended all was fine and moved on hurriedly, excelling myself with my section about cheese.

I fell behind a few days from the end and squeezed four and a half thousand on to November 30th, the last day of NaNoWriMo. I finished on 50393 words. There is some nonsense, some slightly better stuff and some recipes.

All in all, I’m extremely pleased I undertook the challenge. I feel great having done it, although I haven’t yet got out of the habit of drifting to the computer as soon as I get in the house…

It’s about my aura

A little while ago, a friend at work asked me cover part of a shift for her. It was quite important so she was really grateful when I said I could cover it. She asked what she could do in return and I said I’d like her to write me a song and perform it. Which she did.

Here is that song. I thought you might like to hear it.

Oh Laura

Thank you so much for covering part of my shift,
It really means a lot, if you catch my drift.

Oh Laura, it’s something about your aura,
Yeah, your aura, mmm, mmm, yeah.

I hope it doesn’t ruin your evening,
Or give you a peculiar feeling,

Yeah, it’s your aura. Oh Laura.

Now I will owe you a favour,
As you have been my saviour.

Yeah Laura, it’s your aura…

Do you like it? I have also just remembered a song my brother made up when we were little. It wasn’t really to do with me but it was to do with something I loved dearly and his intention with the song was to poke fun and try to annoy me.

It went as follows.

“My little pony,
Skinny and bony,
Looked in the mirror,
And saw a gorilla.”

So, as you can tell, I am surrounded by musical genius. No wonder I almost became a world famous pop star.

This one’s for everyone who’s supported me….

… it’s not really. I’ve not struggled or seen off any adversity to write this blog. I just sit down and write it. But it is for the people who read it. Because that’s amazing. That people read things when I write them. People from all over the world. Just today, my stats page tells me that pageviews came from Korea, Turkey, Brazil, Poland, Greece, Qatar, UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand and the Netherlands. That’s just mind blowing. People pooh-pooh the whole technological age, say that social media is not the real world, etc. But I think it’s fantastic. How else would a silly story about a ‘fight’ I had in school be available to those people? I’m not saying people’s lives are greatly enriched by anything I write, nor will I inspire them to transform a new generation of potential world-savers. But lots of things make me giggle. Lots of things in life are very amusing. And if people like it when I point these things out, then that’s enough. My work here is done. I’m off to laugh at a small child pulling a cat’s tail.

Anyway, a few months ago, when I thought to myself, “What is all this blogging nonsense about?” and got involved, it was such a great decision. It’s honestly been so fantastic. As silly as this may sound, it makes me make sure that my life is more exciting. If I have a day free and can’t think of anything to write about, I go on a walk some place interesting, I find somewhere I’ve always passed by but not looked at properly, I photograph something pretty, I read something out of the ordinary. So that I’ll have something interesting to write about. Writing in itself makes me pretty happy and finding good stuff to write about can turn every day into a little adventure.

So thanks for reading, people. I always say I write for myself mainly and numbers aren’t my main priority but when people do actually read it, it feels so great. Well, I don’t need to tell you, you’re all bloggers, you know what I mean.

Ok, that’s my thank you speech over and done with. Now onto the award.

I’d like to thank david-and-emily.com for the Liebster Blog Award. Their blog, Husband & Wife est. 9/18/11,  is great. These guys do an awful lot, on not much sleep, and take exams inbetween it all. Their posts always fill me with feelings of laziness and the thought that I could be doing more.

For this award, I must answer the 11 questions posed to me and ask 11 of my own to 11 nominees. I’m supposed to nominate blogs which have fewer than 200 followers but I don’t know many a lot of them have so I’m just gonna stick in ones I like and hope for the best.

Here goes:

1) Favorite body part to work out and exercise of choice?

I love walking because I love getting to know London and am slowly turning into a total history geek. So I like how the pace of walking let’s you take in everything you’re seeing, better than on a bike when you just whizz by (although I love cycling). Recently I took up swimming quite seriously, and can’t enough of it. I like how my arms feel like they’ve taken a pounding because it makes me think that my bingo wings must be getting smaller…. surely?

2) Job you wish everyone had to do for an entire day in hopes they would gain some perspective?

Cleaning toilets in McDonalds… I’m not sure why. It just came to me. Although, I guess it just makes you appreciate how nice it is not to work in grime. I think actually, something to do with law is important. It makes you understand how and why the law and politics are as they are and why empty statements like, “They should bring back hanging,” don’t make legal or political sense. It really infuriates me, actually, listening to people of the sort who say that, discussing anything remotely important like politics. I physically cannot enter into discussions with them.

3) Favorite Holiday and traditions that go with it – please!  Elaborate!

Holiday? As in a day on which you celebrate e.g. Christmas? Not a holiday I went on to another country? I like Christmas a lot. I read the entire Chronicles of Narnia. I start on the 16th December. They make me feel very magical. That’s it really. The other stuff, like where to spend the day etc, is changeable. So long as I have Narnia, I’m happy.

4) What topic are you really passionate about writing?

I write mostly comedy, I guess, if my writing were to fit into any genre. Lots of things I feel passionate about; genocide, capital punishment, crime and rehabilitation, the importance of understanding between people who are different, (culture, language, ethnicity etc). I don’t necessarily write about these things, though, because I don’t feel it’s the right arena for it or whatever.

5) You wake up in the morning and get a mulligan.  What do you use it on?

My… erm… face? Erm. To pluck my… erm… nose hair?

6) Which teacher motivated you the most or least?

My drama teacher, Miss McGowan. She was just ace. She was teacher age yet she was still fab. Unusual. I just wanted to be in her lessons and be like her. The perfect person to want to be like as floundering 17 year old who just toddled about wanting to be and do everything! I met up with her a few months ago for dinner and it was lovely. She didn’t ruin the illusion of her fabulousness at all. I liked her even more.

7) What lesson learned caught you off guard when you learned it?

Sometimes things can be just as lovely as you wanted them to be. Life and relationships aren’t a constant struggle, like you’re led to believe by older people when you’re younger. Things happen. Of course things happen. I’m not immune to misfortune. You’ve never quite got enough money or you don’t quite agree on everything, or your landlord is rubbish. But whatever. Overall, if you can recognise the things that make you unhappy and banish them, life can be very nice. And is.

8) Finish this sentence: The world would be a better place if everyone:

Considered each other and their own actions a bit more.

9) Grammatical error that drives you batty?

Comma and. For example – I went to the shop, and got some chocolate.

10) Did you take a foreign language in high school/college?  If so what?  If not – did you regret it?

Took French, it’s still quite useful to this day. Not massively useful as I don’t remember much but it doesn’t feel like a foreign language when I hear it or am in France, which makes it easier to attempt.

11) What is something you think people misjudge you for?

Erm… Erm… That I… erm… Ok, this one is quite difficult. My non-ladylike-ness, I guess. I’m not super uncouth or anything. I just don’t do my hair or make-up or wear high heels or anything. I’m too lazy.

Right, enough of my nonsense. Now it’s my turn to quiz my nominees. Here are my nominees.

1) indigo euphoric – This blog is pretty new on the scene and is already providing me with plenty of food for thought. They are the type of posts that I discuss with my friends later in an ‘I totally say/do that too’ type of way

2) Someone Fat Happened – I knew. I just knew when I saw the name of this blog that I was going to like it. Because that’s what happens isn’t it? You’re just going about your business as usual, nothing much going on, then all of a sudden, there are extra rolls. Ridiculous! Who did this to me? This blog captures that feeling exactly. The Korean bathhouse post might be the best thing I’ve read recently.

3) Fitness and Frozen Grapes – I’ve nominated her before and I’m going to nominate her again. Because she’s fab.

4) drinkrunyoga – This blog is fabulous for many reasons, one of them being the amazing before/after pics on a recent wedding anniversary post.

5) St Andrew’s Lynx – The lastest offering, about being imperfect, has stayed in my memory. The photo is beautiful too.

6) Swonderful Smarvellous – Two reasons why this blog is great. 1. The most recent post was about Rome. I am going to Rome in a few days. Hence, I became very excited indeed when reading. 2. The post before that was quotes from Downton Abbey. Amazing.

7) The Unbearable Lightness of Being Me – Little snapshots of life in the Philippines. I went there a few years ago to visit a friend and had a really lovely time so I love remembering that while reading this blog.

8) The Good Greatsby – I just can’t get enough of this blog. My only problem with it is that he doesn’t write often enough. I check here first before I make any important life decisions. His words of wisdom always teach me something.

9) Pa-BLAM! – This blog is great and she’s a great blogger to have on side. I love seeing that she’s commented or liked one of my posts. Although she recently blogged about having a cold, and now I have one…. Suspicious.

10) Humorous Interludes – I love this blog. The horoscopes are very important to me. I am forever grateful to him for his advice about, for example, what to do when on a date with a paleontologist. Which is, like, always. Obviosuly.

11) Better Than IMDB – I always remember his recommendations e.g. if someone suggests a film, I’ll be like, ‘No, I’ve read quite bad reviews about that.’ Then people are like, ‘Where have you read that?’ And I’m not sure. Because I rarely read film reviews in magazines. Then I realise that I’m actually getting the majority of my info from this site!

And my 11 questions to them are as follows:

1) Imagine you are a vegetable. Which one, and why?

2) I have a cold. Can you recommend anything?

3) What is your favourite book? You can only choose one!

4) If you could have one thing you were amazing at, what would it be?

5) What would you chosen Olympic sport be?

6) If you could only eat food from one country for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

7) Do you love tea? If not, do you think it will get in the way of our friendship?

8) You left the house without any trousers/skirt on this morning! Oops! What is your plan of action?

9) How do you feel about cake?

10) You’ve won £1 million on the lottery! How much of it are you willing to donate to a fund for my general wellbeing? (This one is quite important.)

11) If I ask nicely, will you please wear your underwear on the outside of your clothes for the duration of your working day?

Laura Maisey, Fully Qualified Piglet and Multi-Award Winner

Well, this is a good week. Passed my exams and been nominated for two awards. I’ll do the other one in a separate post. So for now, I would like to thank Wealthymatters for the nomination for the One Lovely Blog Award. This blog is a mixture of useful info and tips on creating wealth (always a useful thing when emerging from a period of self-imposed student-loan-related poverty!).

So the rules for this award are that I tell everyone 7 things about myself and nominate 15 other blogs for the award. So I’m going to have to think of 7 new things as I swear I’ve told the most interesting stuff already. Ok, here goes…

1. Sometimes I think I might like to spend my life becoming the new Alfred Wainwright, a famed English walker, who spent his time walking the Lake District and writing fantastic books about it, known as Wainwright’s Walks. In light of this possible life goal, I’m looking into walking the Pennines for my birthday next year. It takes about two weeks apparently. A friend did it and had a heart attack and had to be airlifted off to hospital. I don’t think the heart attack was related to the walk.

2. I once walked the Great Wall of China. It took about two weeks. It was exhausting. A lady in one village tried to sell me a Great Wall-themed t-shirt and when I said I had bought the exact same one at the previous village so didn’t need another, she said, in desperation, ‘But I have extra large!’

3. When I was travelling in Namibia with a friend and her family, we were staying in the middle of nowhere in a tented camp. As we walked in the pitch black from the dinner tent to our sleeping tent, we looked back up the path and shone the torch, and we had walked straight past a huge HUGE male lion with a massive mane. It had been lying down next to the path, clearly not hungry enough to have a go. If any of us had reached out an arm while walking past it, we would’ve touched it.

4. When I was younger, I named every single cuddly toy that I had, and I had a lot. When I was supposed to be going to sleep, I gave them all personalities and created a little life with them. My favourite doll, which I’d had since forever, was called Yvonne.

5. After I’ve been swimming, I eat far more than is really necessary, to get my energy back up. I’m probably burning enough to have two or three cereal bars. I tend to eat four or five, then a bit of everything else I find in the fridge. I know this is silly. And I know overall, the swimming can’t be having that much effect, due to my massively increased food intake, but I have decided to pretend that it’s not happening. If you would pretend too, then that would be great. Thanks.

6. I love a project. Love it! If someone says ‘I need to file all this stuff by tomorrow, I’ll never get it done’ I love it, I get straight in there. Or if we need to check the best before dates on everything in the shop, I’m on it, I’ve already started! Re-organising a drawer or re-arranging furniture, I love it. Let’s get the garden looking pretty, someone says. I’m your woman! I love it. I get excited thinking up projects for myself to work on.

7. I feel quite a bit of pressure to do something law-related now that I have my degree but in all honesty, I quite like what I’m doing now, even though it has nothing to do with law. People say, ‘O, so what will you do now?’ And I’m like, ‘Well, at the moment I am mostly baking and writing. Which I like. So I’ll do that.’ Lots of people with grown-up jobs don’t like them very much. Whereas I love my job, it’s great fun. I think I should count myself lucky in that and not be in a rush to go and do something grown-up, just for it’s own sake.

Ok, so now you all know me a bit better (I’m running out of cool facts to tell you all actually. Any more awards and I’ll be telling you things about myself that are of the ‘I had a cup of tea this morning’ variety), and it’s time to nominate 15 other blogs for the One Lovely Blog Award. This is fairly easy as they’re all pretty lovely, lovely enough for me to take the time out to read them every day. I’ll try not to repeat any I’ve done before.

1. Thought Catalog – This blog is just fantastic. There are no other words for it. It’s witty, painfully honest and always hilarious. 33 Things You Should Know Before Dating Me is my favourite of the recent posts, but the’yre all worth reading.

2. A Year Of Reading The World – This blog is great. 196 countries, and a year to read something from all of them. I was super excited the other day when I saw a book from Namibia on the list.

3. The Good Greatsby – I love love love this blog. Invite Me To Your Yachting Party and Thank You For Inviting Me To Your Party. I Apologize For My Behaviour At The Party are among the funniest things I have ever read.

4. Belle Grove Plantation – This blog feeds my history obsession. It follows the restoration of the plantation in Virginia, US, where James Madison was born. The little stories of discoveries on the land and tales of the families who lived there are absolutely fascinating. At some point, I’m definitely visiting, it looks amazing.

5. socomfortablynumb – This blog had me at “I’m not all that pretty. I dress wierd.”

6. CyclingEurope.org – This man cycled around Europe and wrote a book about it, which I’m in the middle of at the moment. It’s a great book, fantastically entertaining. Read it.

7. Bagni di Lucca and Beyond – Gorgeous gorgeous photos. I’ve never wanted to go to Italy more! In fact, I have booked myself a trip there soon and my sole holiday research has been this blog!

8. hairsprayandhemingway – I was initially attracted to this blog by the name. The blog is described as being about ‘literature, beauty and life.’ What’s not to love?

9. AsiaDreaming – This blog always has beautiful photos from exotic faraway lands, that make me want to drop everything and jump on a plane.

10. Blogging for a Good Book – It’s the Williamsburg Regional Library blog and every day I come and check out which book they have recommended. I’ve read a few that have been suggested and they were very good.

11. Tokyobling’s Blog – Again, amazing photos and a fascinating insight into another part of the world. The colours and liveliness in the photos are great.

12. Project 365 by Kenneth Todd – One photo a day for a year. Does what it says on the tin. There are some lovely lovely pictures on this blog, check them out if you’re into photography or if you just like looking at pretty things.

13. Fitness and Frozen Grapes – The great pictures of food are just one of the reasons I love reading this blog. No matter how active I am, I always feel lazy when I read this!

14. Lyrics and Chocolate – The most recent post, List of things that never change was great!

15. Steeshes – A Photo Collection of Mustaches – This blog is just great. There’s always a new picture of a moustache. I feel it is good for one to be up-to-date with the latest moustache fashions. That’s partly why I love this blog so much. Check it out. You’re bound to discover something amazing.

 

PS. As a London-dweller, I feel I should say something about the Olympics. So here it is = the Olympics are nice, aren’t they?

D is for…

DEFINITION!

Today, a guest blogger is going have a little look at some words he feels need closer examination…

CAN I HAVE A WORD? (Part 3)

“Nothing to breathe but air,
Quick as a flash ‘tis gone;
Nowhere to fall but off,
Nowhere to stand but on.” (Benjamin Franklin King, 1857-94)

Can I have a word? – Again? Yes it’s part 3. We’ve done authors using words we don’t know; we’ve done us trying to beef up our vocabularies; now we’re going to look at a difficult, some may say impossible, couple of words to define properly: nowhere & everywhere.

Have you heard people (often children or teenagers) answer the question, “Where do you think you’re going?” with that innocent sounding, “Nowhere”; someone asks you where you are and you say, for example, “in the middle of nowhere”. That’s a rather longer answer than a simple “I don’t know” which, it seems to me, does the same job. You could shorten it to ‘ITMON’ if you wanted to invent a new word (for something that doesn’t exist anyway?). Not sure that’ll catch on.

First, let’s investigate “Nowhere” and the whole concept of it. Let’s start by checking the dictionary: it means either ‘in or to no place, not anywhere’ or ‘out of the running’. It’s an adverb so you can’t actually go to nowhere or come from nowhere. It’s not a noun like a place name would be. What I want to know is how can you be ‘not anywhere’? In other words how can we define a place that doesn’t exist by using a concept that also doesn’t exist with words that actually don’t make sense? Now there’s the problem. Perhaps we are moving into the realms of philosophy here. However, Ambrose Bierce (1842-1913) pulls the rug from under our feet by giving us this quote: “Philosophy: a route of many roads leading from nowhere to nothing”. Not a great deal of help there then. Hmm…. Ok, so maybe philosophy isn’t the way to go.

Remember, though, it’s physically impossible to be nowhere because, when you think about it, there is always a latitude & longitude for wherever on the Earth’s surface you stand; if you’re underground (or under the sea) there is still a location simply with an added dimension of “X” no. of metres under the surface. The same is true if you’re above the ground even right to the top of Mount Everest except you don’t need the extra dimension because the latitude & longitude cross at the particular height where you are.

Therefore you must be somewhere! You might not be in an actual place that’s named on a map or even known locally by a particular name but you just can’t be nowhere. Also it’s important to remember nowhere is an adverb. That means Talking Heads got it wrong when they sang about being on the Road to nowhere (1985); Dusty Springfield got it wrong when she sang about being In the middle of nowhere (1965); and the Beatles got it wrong when they sang about a Nowhere man sitting in his nowhere land, making all his nowhere plans, for nobody (1966); and perhaps the most confusing lines on the subject come from Jeff Beck in the opening lines of his song Hi-ho silver lining: “You’re everywhere and nowhere baby…” (1972). Now, just in case you were totally confused as to where that might be, Mr Beck helps us out by explaining that you’re (probably), “…..going down a bumpy hillside in a hippy hat.” Ah well, that’s a lot clearer then, eh?

So why do we use it? Is it to sound cool? Or to convey the idea that we are some kind of free spirit? Is it to emphasise the fact that you’re in a desolate place? – The middle of nowhere. Or is it because, really, we don’t understand what we’re saying? So why not stop using it or say it a different way. Go on you know you could. In the song Cotton Avenue, Joni Mitchell said it this way: “If you got no place special, well then you just go no place special”. Not nowhere just a “not special” other place.

I’ve tried looking for Erewhon but there’s nowhere so mixed up as that place!
However, I know what you’re thinking: will he be joining in after he’s heard those distinctive, foot-tapping, opening bars of the Jeff Beck song on the radio by singing along with “You’re everywhere and nowhere, baby, that’s where you’re at……….”? Course I will!
But hang on a minute…… I’ve just had a thought – where’s everywhere? How can anything, let alone a person, be everywhere? Is it all places……. except nowhere (or including nowhere)? And what about ITMON? Einstein gave us E=mc2; the Rambler has come up with E=E-N, (where E=everywhere, N=nowhere). Will it catch on? I doubt it but have a serious think about it!

 

Can I have a word?

OK, today is a first for The Adventures of Danda and Yaya, a guest blog! A reader, known mysteriously as ‘The Rambler’ had the following to get off their chest, so I’ll hand over to them now. (Feel free to send in a guest blog too, if you wish, and I’ll put it up).

I’m sure you’ve heard “Can I have a word?” before and you know what it’s a prelude to: you’re going to getting a telling off something you’ve done wrong. But here’s a less well-known phrase, which I will explain more fully as I go on.

Dixeris egregie notum si callida verbum
Reddiderit iunctura novum (Horace, 65BC-8BC)

I can see a few of you nodding your heads but for those who don’t know it translates to:
“You will have written exceptionally well if, by skilful arrangement of your words, you have made an ordinary one seem original”. All should become clear. Read on…

Have you ever read a book and come across words you don’t know the meaning of? I have – many times actually. Does that mean my vocabulary is bad or that the author’s is just very good? (Or are they just using a Thesaurus?) For some years now I have kept a notebook in which I write words I could not explain to someone else at the time I read them. I had imagined I might pick up a few words, to expand my own vocabulary, by those somewhat more erudite than myself. I never imagined how full that notebook would become in the space of just a few years.

However, sometimes you just wish authors had used a word you could understand. For instance there is an Irish travel writer, whose books I do enjoy, who tends to use a number of words not in everyday use. Maybe that’s part of being an author. I don’t know about you but reading of carmine, mellifluously & cordillera had me heading to the dictionary. Now, I know what they mean but will I ever use them myself – probably not. As words are about communication why not use a more common word. Some may feel good when they use more unusual words but they’re certainly not communicating very well are they? Here are some more examples from my notebook (which recently acquired its 700th entry):

1. In just the first 10 pages of a biography of Robert Louis Stevenson there were the following: picayune, panglossian, adumbrated, epigone, catopric & gallimaufry and, by the end of the book, (I’m not joking) just over another 100 I didn’t know! Hands up who got those six meanings right. If you’re interested you’ll have gone and looked them up but….. somehow I doubt it.
2. A biography of Whistler produced: peremptory, lucubrations, orpiment, alembic, cozened & another 50.
3. A book on the history of Liverpool gave me: autarky, chevroth, diorama, hegemonic, miscegenation, propinquity & many more.
4. Even the Daily Mail, over the past 12 months, came up with a few: pemmican, contumely, egregious, nary, palimpsest.

A word which I’ve come across a few times now, in different books, is sesquipedalian. (Pronounced sess-kwipi-day-lee-an). Any ideas?

It means tending to use long words or polysyllabic (dictionary.com). Do I detect the teensiest bit of irony there? Slip that one into your next conversation with friends and see how they marvel at your great knowledge! (Example: “I was talking with Bill/Sue the other day and he/she was just so sesquipedalian”; perhaps slip in a “like”, “boss” or “init” to sound a bit more streetwise).

Can I have a word? It looks like the authors’ answer is “Yes, you can and you can have lots of them and you won’t know what they all mean and some of them might be quite long!” (Unless you look them up in a dictionary these writers are not actually communicating with you are they? If you don’t understand what they’re saying what’s the point of using them?)

What’s going on here? Let me think (or contemplate, or cogitate, or ponder, or reflect) ….. I think that they think that writing like this is going to make people think they’re clever because they’re using big or unusual words. Now I’m not against a bit of improving your knowledge (otherwise I wouldn’t have that notebook would I?) or proposing that everyone should read elementary level books but I shouldn’t be having to stop and check words every few pages. That’s not communication – is it?

Let me put it another way – the legal speed limit, for a car, on the road in this country is 70mph and suppose there is a car which can reach 200mph what’s the point of that extra 130mph? You can’t use it. These writers may have a literary Ferrari, in terms of their word knowledge, but I reckon most of us are probably still a way short of the literary equivalent of the 70mph so… please can I have an ordinary word?

Perhaps it’s worth remembering the words of Samuel Johnson: “Don’t, Sir, accustom yourself to use big words for little matters” (from Boswell, Life of Johnson p.471). Well said, or should I say excellently elucidated!