January 20, 2014

Giving Life to Words: ROW80 Update

My oldest daughter often says I forced her into the life or word-nerdery because she will occasionally use the word catawampus (one of my personal favorites). Or because she knows when to use I or me. Her favorite pastime is to bring me a word in a book she's reading and try and stump me regarding its meaning.

I would love to take a course in etymology, because I am truly fascinated by words (although when I told my daughter this desire, she wanted to know why I'd want to study bugs).

All that being said, words aren't everything... even for us storytellers.

A lesson in this... my family and I are hosting two students from China for five days. They have very limited English. I have struggled at times to communicate with them, resorting to typing in Google Translate and showing them the screen.

But my girls have found creative ways to communicate. When they wanted to play games with their new friends, they pulled out dominoes and an old princess matching game. This after spending almost an hour outside with chalk. They took the language barrier out of the equation and everyone was laughing in no time. Then we went to the park and played basketball. So much fun. Amazing how happiness trumps the need for understanding. We had a wonderful weekend of bonding and very few words were said by anyone.

I think this is why a story that moves us doesn't need to be complicated or scholarly. It just needs to find a way to make us smile... or laugh or cry. Anybody can string words together; a true storyteller gives them life.

(Although I still really want to take a course in etymology!)


Mondays are my A Round of Words in 80 Days (ROW80) check-in days. Since I'm the mom to five girls for a couple more days, it will be slow-going here. However, I have set a deadline to finish editing Chasing Shadows--next Friday, 1/31. Still hoping for a February release. *woot*

Hope everyone has a wonderful week!


Jo Michaels said...

I'd totally take that course with you :P

It's so cool that you have international friends staying with you for a couple of days. I'd be asking all kinds of questions in pictures. LOL! China fascinates me.

I'm glad you're getting some bonding time in with your girls. Let the book rest if you must. Refuel. You'll be better for it.



Beth said...

Hope you'll write more about your Chinese visitors!

Anonymous said...

I also love the meanings of words. I love thinking about the journey that word must have taken over the years to become what it means to us today. And yes, I know how incredibly dorky that sounds! :)

There are other--sometimes more powerful ways--to communicate than language, though. What was it that Ursula Le Guin said? "The novelist says in words what cannot be said in words"?

Good post. Thanks for sharing!