Thursday, 16 September 2010

I'm A Literary Constructivist (Apparently)


Last Wednesday was "International Literacy Day" and the wonderful Deanna Schrayer felt she wanted to honour that by celebrating language. Thus she created the "Literacy Builder" Award and sent out the first round of honourees.

From that my favourite ministering angel in the whole Twitterverse who makes me do things that are good for my soul and take my literary medicine because it's good for me Linda Simoni-Wastila conferred this honour upon me for which thank you very much Linda.

So I have to offer 5 words that tickle me each day I rise from my slumbers. After this list, then I pass on the baton to three other master/mistress crafters of the word.

Okay, firstly my five oft used words and the first one will come as no surprise, though I'm actually opting for the adjectival rather than the verb which is how I tend to use it in about every alternate friday flash I write:

LIMINAL - hovering at the threshold, since I write in order to interrogate the precise nature of reality, the liminal always comes up as that state passing from one thing into something completely different.

SEBACEOUS - the nature of or resembling tallow or fat oh dear, another adjective, I'm afeared I'll be drummed out of the plain English fiction writers guild, well so be it... Um I write about the human body a lot and am always looking for metaphors for the sense of touch, the feel of it, which is hard to convey in words. I also seem to write about candlelight a lot, words like taper and lambent come into it a lot. Well it's how our ancestor scribes worked in their scriptoriums...

CLEAVE - either to adhere closely to, or it's polar opposite, to split apart. I love words that have two completely opposite meanings within them. Fast is another one. See, this ambiguity and slipperiness is what we authors are up against every time we go into battle with language. And every day I enlist for a further tour of duty. I must be pun-drunk...

LETHOLOGICA - an inability to put your finger on a word or remember it, not a word I've used in my work yet, but it's got a space reserved for it in the WIP. What I want to know is how can you remember the word for not being able to remember a word?

COMMINUTE/TRITURATE - to pulverise, make into powder. I find it hard to choose between these two words cos I love them both so much. I tend to find space to employ them both. I love words that are about changing the state of something, be it a blossoming or burgeoning, or a diminution like this pair. There is much poetry to be wrought from ruin and decay. Words like these facilitate that.

Can I just appeal to both readers and authors alike to consider the words they employ/come across and not be intimidated by ones they haven't encountered before. Language, particularly our English language, has strengths which are simultaneously also its weaknesses. Its very flexibility and diversity, offering you the demand, as well as ask, and enjoin, order, request etc, allows us both greater shade of meaning and yet paradoxically greater slippage and imprecision. Writers, we are beholden to choose our words with the absolute care, in order to say just what it is we mean and intend.

Three writers who absolutely do this and yet preserve a soaring, lilting, lyrical quality from the sound and rhythm of their words are people I would like to honour with the Literary Builder Award.

Penny Goring - Penny's words strike off new meanings from one another like rubbing flint ignites a wildfire. Every word has both a sculpted meaning and its sonic qualities reverberating inside the reader's head. Please go sample her stuff if you haven't already been exposed to it.

Alison Wells - where Penny's words have a material sonorousness about them, Alison's have an almost ethereal quality that transport all 13 stone of me so that I can soar above the earth's atmosphere and yet look back down and visualise the most quiet and intimate scene between wonderfully rendered human beings. Look at a Marc Chagall painting and you'll get the idea. This can only be secured by wonderful mastery of words and Alison is so wonderfully adept.

Carrie Clevenger - Penny and Alison both reside the same side of the Atlantic as me. We can take much of our idiom for granted since we share it. Carrie is in the States, where the language is superficially very similar, but its speech rhythms and idioms have evolved their own paths like two related species isolated from one another by geography. Yet Carrie's words blow me away, by resonating like a guitar string between the familiar and readily recognised, to the whole new world of meanings contained in her brilliant lyricism.



12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow. Thanks, Marc. x
Penanon

Deanna Schrayer said...

Marc! I feel like I've been to the greatest award acceptance speech ever. :)
What wonderfully fun words you chose, and I knew I'd learn a lot from your picks. "Lethologica" strikes me as funny - it sounds like it should mean logically lethal, (or maybe that's just my strange way of thinking at the moment).

And those you chose to pass the award along to? Fantabulous choices! I've been trying to figure out how to describe Alison's work and couldn't put my finger on it. You described it perfectly.

Oh yea, congratulations! :)

Sulci Collective said...

Thanks Deanna for bringing all this about.

M x

Linda said...

I knew you'd get 'limn' in there somehow. Great word choices (I also love cleave) and even better honorees! Congrats on expanding my word horizon (and everyone else's), but I think my husband would disagree about me being a ministering angel ;^)

Peace, Linda

Sulci Collective said...

I think it's possibly easier to minister from afar! Thanks for the award Linda.

M x

alisonwells said...

I feel the need to look behind me, are you talking about someone else? You need to receive the Self-Esteem builder award too. This is so encouraging for someone trying to write while life itself is (a) cutting edge, sharp and painful but also good for spreading wholesome golden butter.

'Sometimes late at night I lie awake and mix my metaphors' (acknowledging Garth Brooks).

You know how much I appreciate this. Cleave I had picked out before and liminal is sublime! Thanks for teaching me to play with words.

A x

Anonymous said...

Wow neat! This is a really great site! I am wondering if anyone else has come across something
exactly the same in the past? Keep up the great work!

Laura Eno said...

Congrats to you and your picks! Linda snagged you as a choice before I got to you. You are a wordsmith extraordinaire!

G.P. Ching said...

Well deserved! You are the master of the extended vocabulary for sure.

Jen Brubacher said...

I can't think of a better person to describe his five favourite words. Your choices are excellent, "cleave" the most of all.

Melissa said...

Congrats. Wonderful words, as always from you. A little something at Windspirit Girl expressing more admiration. You may have one, but even if so, wanted to be one more in the admiring throng. :) http://wp.me/pQy5t-8c

Karen from Mentor said...

"Yet Carrie's words blow me away, by resonating like a guitar string between the familiar and readily recognised..."

Loved all of your "speech" as Deanna called it...[picturing you delivering it in a lavender velvet tux] but the part above about Carrie...linking music and writing together really hit me. I know exactly what you mean and I love it when someone touches me on more than one level. You both do that for me on a regular basis.

Keep the words flowing.
Karen :0)