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Reason #352 Why I’m a Writer

April 22, 2012

This is a repost from my other blog, Specnology.

I love language. I love the way words sound and how the sounds differ between accents. I love how the same word can mean five different things depending on which century it’s used in, and how it can mean five other things depending on modern-day context. I love how languages borrow from each other, how sounds and meanings change during the borrowing. I love how there are more than enough languages in the world to cover every possible permutation of syntax and meaning and structure. I love the arcane system that is punctuation.

See also: the linguistics degree; my collection of dictionaries, English, translation, foreign-language, etymological, and obsolete; the fact that receiving the Chicago Manual of Style for my birthday several years ago had me actually jumping up and down and squealing; the biology grades which were half-memorization, half-figuring-out-the-Greek-and-Latin-affixes; the fact that I drop words like “truncate” and “collude” and “indefatigably” in everyday conversations and think nothing of it.

This is all to say that playing with language is what I do. I’m a natural punster. I make up words. I make up concepts. I make up sentences and paragraphs and stories. It’s fun. It’s addictive. Especially the bit about the stories, and especially when something I say or write causes spit takes or brain breakage. I delight in linking concepts that you wouldn’t think could be linked, like the simile I came up with yesterday: The dust swirled up behind him like a cartoon coyote chasing a roadrunner. Sadly, it didn’t fit the scene and the the coyote himself never swirls, but it’s a great image, isn’t it?

There’s something magical about being able to take words, single words with only an handful of meanings, and stringing them together into a phrase or a sentence that pops, and then taking those sentences and forming paragraphs with a rhythm and flow and a sense of person, and then taking those paragraphs and creating the spell that is Story. There are approximately 48 sounds in the English language, represented by 26 letters of an alphabet that’s been passed down and adapted for 4000 years, and using them, I’m able to elicit emotions and conjure images and tell the stories of people who may or may not exist. Anything I can imagine, is possible, and anything I want to say, I can.

And that is why I am a writer. How could I not be?

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