Thesaurus and Other Difficult Matters

I have learned to spell the word thesaurus. Reliably. Correctly. Without pause. I have spelled it repeatedly on my laptop while writing. I’m sure my fingers twitch through the key fingering even in my sleep. This, for me, is a mortifying confession.

My vocabulary tends to wander to the superfluous. A junior high school writing teacher (yes, I’m dating myself calling it junior high) wrote at the top of my short story. Your writing is verbose. I thought it was a compliment. For those of you wondering, look it up. 😉 So to admit that I need a thesaurus is a bit humbling, but I’ve came to accept it as a tool of my trade.

Then my synonym world shifted. My father gave me a thesaurus for my birthday. Not just any thesaurus, a Roget’s Thesaurus. A book. An actual-turn-the-pages, lug-it-around, lose-it-in-my-paper-stacks book. Wow.

All of a sudden the search for a new way to say “exaggerate” became
delightful/thrilling/transporting/enrapturing/atingle-ing. I can now look up derivatives that lead to core synonyms (with antonyms!) AND explore idioms! All in one conveniently located source (provided it isn’t buried under paper stacks—see above).

Now, I’m sure some naysayer is going to point out that I could accomplish all that with a few additional key strokes online. And I don’t doubt it for a second. BUT there is something empowering/enabling/smooth the path for about turning pages to find what I need. Its an accomplishment. It gives me a feeling of working to find just the right connotation/association/impression/connection.

The word I finally settle on has been searched for, sifted, deliberated and
selected. The turning of the pages makes it tangible.

I will admit when I’m writing and my plot is silent and my characters wander off, the only thing that gets things moving is to write it down. By hand. With paper and pen. Cursive no less (see above remark re: junior high). There is something deeply satisfying/agreeable/enjoyable about the scritch of pen on paper.

At the risk of antiquating myself, I’m going to hazard a comment about losing something in our ever-increasing rush toward “ease of living.” I can shop, eat restaurant food, bank, and meet up with friends without ever leaving the confines of my home.

Stay with me. I feel for the poor harried mother who never gets to experience Wal-mart during peak hours with an overtired toddler or two. She is missing out on a common bonding experience. Ten, fifteen years from now she is not going to be able to look a new tired mother in the eye and say with feeling, “Sweetie, I’ve been there. It will get better.”

Ok, that last example is a little tongue in cheek, but the heart of the sentiment is not. We are losing common ground. We are losing experiences. We are losing connectivity. And I don’t care which words you use to say it, we are losing.

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