April 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
That is a list of words I used once (as opposed to used multiple times) in a blog for Yell. I found this delightful tool called – wait for it – Word Frequency Calculator! As always, this is a nerd fest and boring to most people.
But what I enjoy about the tool is that it not only lets you see which words you’re using WAY TOO MUCH but also celebrate how many weird words you used. This Yell blog was about boring businessy phrases you should avoid and I’m tickled that I used words like coy, shebang, frantic and umbrella. Isn’t that joyful? 🙂
February 12, 2015 § Leave a comment
Words that made my week:
(n.) a tiny, brilliant flash or spark; a small thing; a barely-visible trace.
(n.) bonding through the intimacy of touch, especially of the closeness between a parent and child
(adj.) undying, immortal; eternally beautiful
(adj.) a deep purple-red
(n.) a sudden or unexpected reversal of circumstances; the point of no return
(adj.) of grey skies and winter days; filled with heavy clouds or fog; relating to winter or cold, sunless weather
(n.) a light rain, a fine drizzle
(adj.) describing an experience that makes you fearful yet fascinated, awed yet attracted – the powerful, personal feeling of being overwhelmed and inspired
(n.) a hiding place; a place of safety and comfort
(n.) someone, especially a politician, who acts for personal gain instead of consistent, respectable principles
(n.) beautiful writing on a subject of little or no importance
Follow @worddiction for a continuous stream of fantastic and underused words.
January 9, 2015 § Leave a comment
Good phrases from my corpus, as I am allowing myself to call it:
Afraid and crying
The wrinkled shade of the canyon
Slowly fuck the love back inside
The author of tangled charity acts
The blanket creeps
Some belated chick
Tomorrow finds disease
It sank in the storm
Naive fingers dancing
Tearing holes, ruined
Rather a negative collection from my hellopoetry.com today.
I could play this game for hours. It’s how I imagine fishing to be for people who like fishing. No purpose to it really, just dreaming idly in the quiet until it’s time to go home.
December 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
The Guardian’s style guide is written how I would write – HAVE written – a style guide.
lc, no hyphen; plural attorney generals (there will be those who tell you it should be “attorneys general” – See berks and wankers)
is not a superlative of thin. Anorexia is an illness. Like schizophrenia, it should not be used as a cheap and lazy metaphor. Anyone who thinks of using a phrase such as “positively anorexic” should think again
Things fall against a backdrop, not amid one. If something is amid the backdrop, it’s part of it, and thus completely unremarkable. Some cliches make the news sound tired; this one makes the news sound as if it’s not news at all
This particularly exotic dangling participle somehow found its way into the paper: “Though long-legged and possessing a lovely smile, gentleman journalists aren’t looking up her skirt and wouldn’t even if she weren’t gay…”
the arrival of a baby, letter or parcel; also widely found in such gruesome examples of marketing-speak as “delivering care” or “delivering quality and value”
administer digitoxin (extracted from foxglove leaves) to treat heart conditions; digitise transcribe data into digital format
Useful to know.
December 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
I have thought about and used this concept many times but never had the pleasure of naming it:
A figure of speech in which, typically, a single verb is used to yoke together two or more parts of a sentence with different meanings. Some examples:
“The queen takes counsel and tea” (Pope).
“Mr Pickwick took his hat and his leave” (Dickens).
December 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
When I can’t really be arsed to write, or I want to write but haven’t thought about what, I do little challenges. Most often that’s Slow Writing, which you may have seen from me before. Six sentences, each of which must contain a proper noun, a question, a semi-colon or any other GCSE English titbit. You can find my first foray with it here.
I also write poems from lists of found phrases; the magical, accidental positioning of words next to each other in Words on hellpoetry.com, for example. Sometimes the randomly generated strings of words are more beautiful than anything I could come up with alone, but combining them fills me with the resonating joy of loving curation.
When I was young, I had a set of magnetic words from Waterstones. They weren’t your usual nouns, verbs, funny words and punctuation. They were words like dream, shine, wonder. I used them to generate poems and here’s one from memory:
Let the silent waters lap.
And the love of angels fly free.
Building with a set of words that are not your own is so oddly freeing; I’ve always found my creativity flies with restrictions. I’m sure some purists would say that poetry jigsawed together from crumbs of other people’s work is not poetry. But you know, no words are your own really.
I have always written poetry provoked by books. My earliest attempts (excluding the era that saw very down-to-earth poems about writing on bananas and washing paint down the sink) were inspired by – copied from – White Oleander by Janet Fitch. Stolen phrases from disparate chapters, stitched together into how I felt about the book’s SOUL.
The one I wrote the other day was about Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, which I found so incredibly affecting. That’s another thing I do: I write as someone else. That one, I’m pretty sure I was an old (male) guide who was showing British journalists around an abandoned compound after the Nigerian civil war in the 60s. The poem I wrote about the funeral, I was me but I was me if Phil had just died.
This is it: we don’t write as who we are, not usually. I always write with ‘What if?’ in my mind. These funny little writing exercises are the warm-ups and shake-downs I do when I need to stretch. They’re small and they’re quick; they make it so easy to imagine and not worry about how things will turn out.