Thursday, April 17, 2014

Writing My Way Through the Dictionary

Editing Essentials is a core English class at Rollins College taught by Dr. Lezlie Laws. It’s a tough class that makes people cry and say bad words. I think it made me bust out one of my fillings, but I can’t prove that.

Dr. Laws has the knowing of a lot of things about words and dashes and nouns and grammar and where all that stuff should go in a sentence. It’s a great big grammar laden world out there, and she loves it and she makes her classes love it too . . . mostly . . . well, the ones who don’t hiss out gypsy curses under their breath. She also loves her dog, yoga, protein, and happy creativity. About the time you think that the dentist will not be able to save your fillings, she likes to give her students a pep talk or two. Thank God. 

In a recent pep talk, Dr. Laws shared the thought that we should, once in a while, read a page or two of the dictionary for inspiration and ideas.

Love it. The idea. Not the dictionary. 

So in the spirit of creativity and dictionary inspiration, I’ve decided to write my way through The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language. Or as the introduction to The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, “Good Usage, Bad Usage, and Usage” by Morris Bishop relates, “Much of our formless, secret thought is, to be sure, idiotic.”

Inspiring? Right?

One essay a week, based on a word from the twenty-six letters of the English language chosen at random from the dictionary . . . unless it’s a really stupid word and then I get to call “do over” one time or maybe twice. And from that word I will take my formless, secret, idiotic thoughts and craft them into an essay of dazzling wit—also grammar and dashes.

What? It could be fun, also funambulist, a word meaning one who performs on a tightrope or a slack rope and isn’t that a great way to describe trying express yourself anytime anywhere?

Linda (Tightrope Walker) Zern 

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