Me and my battle with words

I’ve chosen to title this blog “me and my battle with words”.  I chose the word “battle” because I view words as elusive.  At least, I view the task of finding the right words as elusive.  It’s a battle I enjoy, though.  Many brilliant authors have found their own ways to master language, though I imagine they feel as I do when they write – that there’s a battle in there somewhere.  Finding a way to tame words to your own purpose takes effort, thoughtfulness, and practice.  I took an English Lit class 20 years ago, and was introduced to T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets.  In section V of Quartet No. 1: Burnt Norton, I found a beautiful description of words themselves that I’ve returned to many times over the years.

Words move, music moves
Only in time; but that which is only living
Can only die. Words, after speech, reach
Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern,
Can words or music reach
The stillness, as a Chinese jar still
Moves perpetually in its stillness.
Not the stillness of the violin, while the note lasts,
Not that only, but the co-existence,
Or say that the end precedes the beginning,
And the end and the beginning were always there
Before the beginning and after the end.
And all is always now. Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still. Shrieking voices
Scolding, mocking, or merely chattering,
Always assail them.

The lines I love most, and the language that has come to represent what I view as my battle with words, is from the above:

Words strain,
Crack and sometimes break, under the burden,
Under the tension, slip, slide, perish,
Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place,
Will not stay still.

Do you have any favorite descriptions of words that represent how you think about the writing process?

5 thoughts on “Me and my battle with words

    • I absolutely agree – “wonder and power words” is a great way to put it. Sometimes the power leaves me in its dust, though. I can roll those words, phrases, sentences around in my head and I can savor them like bacon and a good cup of coffee in the morning, but it seems impossible that I could construct something *that good*. It does keep my trying, though. Thanks for your comments!

  1. Pingback: Convergence | east.bay.writer

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