Tuesday, February 1, 2011

word dreaming & a bit o' inspiration

Dreams are funny beasts, aren't they?

Last night, I dreamt I met Loreena McKennitt. Her music is so eloquent, even without her poignant lyrics and ethereal vocals. She appeared at the party of a mutual friend. (Note to that as of yet unmet, mutual friend: please invite me to the next Loreena McKennitt shindig. I'll bring the Guinness.) I was ecstatic when she arrived and eventually, as the night wore on, I got the chance to chat with her. I told her how much I loved her music, how I'd been an ardent fan for more than a decade. She even laughed when I told her my husband and I drove all the way to Nashville to see her in concert because we were convinced she'd never come to Atlanta only to discover a month later her tour would be passing through our back yard. What's funny is that she was just as eloquent speaking as she is singing. She used rich, fluid words, words that almost seemed archaic in our modern speech of lol, omg and sry brb.

I know, it's a dream, but our impressions of people (even those we don't know personally) are carried there by our perceptions of them in our waking lives. And it got me thinking: do I suppress my language, thus suppressing self expression because it's not popular to be well spoken? Do I curb my archaic tendencies? Do I dumb words down?

Do I dumb down my stories?

Sometimes, I suppress what my characters are really trying to say, what the story is trying to flesh out. Why? Because it's not popular. Because I'm afraid no one will understand me. That I'll be met with blank stares and murmurs.

How my stories communicate will form the perceptions the rest of the world has of me. Our words, spoken and unspoken, our stories, truth or watered down, will form the impression that sticks with our readers for ever. Think about that as you write today. What legacy of words, of story do YOU want to leave?


Here is a marvelous excerpt from Pat Conroy's new book "My Reading Life". If you love the lilt of a sentence, the rise and fall of the poetry of words, you'll love this.

Need a swift kick in the derriere, a jump start for that book that's stalled? Here's a great (wee) rant on How to Write by Patti Digh.

PS: I'm taking a break from my other blog, Culinary Vagablogging. I don't have the time or energy to devote to my culinary pursuits and it's not fair to my readers to give them drivel...you know...like camel wrestling....I feel the need to really concentrate on writing, on the creative process. Look for more frequent posts here and hopefully a regular posting schedule!



  1. "Our words, spoken and unspoken, our stories, truth or watered down, will form the impression that sticks with our readers for ever."

    I love that!! :-)

  2. nice...really enjoyed this and now off to check out her link...

  3. Your dreams sound so much more coherent than mine!

    I try to make the words I write match the character using them, so they don’t speak like I do. It’s my hope to tell a story through these characters that readers enjoy.

  4. That is one of the biggest mistakes that writers can make: underestimating the reader's intelligence.

    So I try my best to never dumb down what I'm writing.


  5. I think there are writers out there who dumb down stuff to craft a certain image. This may work in the short term but not the long term. I think the majority of writers know that the reader is intelligent and write not to insult that intelligence. From what I've read, Jen, you write honestly, have a passion for what you write, and do the research that gives credence to events that swirl in writings. Nope, you don't dumb down, not at all.

  6. I hope what I say reflects something good about my person. Of course, I have no idea if it conveys anything at all. Sometimes readers are simply just kind...

  7. I dumb down my language a great deal depending on my audience, but I try not to dumb down my writing. I write YA, but teenagers are smarter than I think a lot of people give them credit for. Such a fun dream to have!

  8. Don't hold back. When you're feeling that self-doubt, that's when you're at the cusp of something brilliant and meaningful. Write on!


Well, hello! I'm so glad you made it. Come inside and sit by the hearth. I'll take your coat and hat. The kettle is singing and there's cake and candles and good conversation. Settle in and make yourself at home. Don't mind the wolfhounds; they're friendly if you give them a bit of lemon curd.