Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Miasma of My Mind

I promised you a brief essay on 'miasma'; yes, I did.  Here's the backstory;           words were a game in our home, ranging from one-upmanship to the lowest of the lowest humor (puns).  Therefore, we all became excellent listeners of every single word spoken in the house.

One sunny day, Father returned from work, tossed his hat onto his corner of the kitchen counter, marched through the house without greeting anyone, and said, "No one speak to me!  My mind in meshed in a miasma of darkness."

In unison, the other four of us said, "Miasma?"  A scramble ensued for every dictionary, pc and thesarus in the house.  Nothing on the face of the earth was more challenging to us than a 'new' word.

From his contextual use, we all knew 'miasma' was most likely not a good thing.  And, indeed, we discovered that it is a mirky, foggy place to be.  The other four of us, me and the three kids, quickly formed a pact:  we would use the word 'miasma' at least once a day for the following two weeks.  We did.  It was fun.  Lots of laughs.  Just imagine it's use in reference to our daily lives---teachers, students, readings, thoughts.  It was delicious.

Personally, I made a secret pledge to use the word at least once in every novel I ever wrote.  Now, it's not a secret anymore.

But, my secret won't be real or revealed to you unless you read each of my novels!  Soon as I get them out here, it will be up to you to do the word search.

Welcome to my playful world!

Friday, January 21, 2011

I Can Hardly Wait to Write Words Worth Writing

I heard my wake-up weather man saying "I can hardly believe..." as dawn peaked in my window beside my bedroom TV this morning.  With eyes still closed, my ears swirled with myriad echoes from my past classroom students mouthing 'can't hardly', 'can't hardly', 'can't hardly', like a badly scratched vinyl record.

Shaking myself from their teen-y slaughter of the language, I thought, "The weather man said it correctly."   But, let's not stop there.  I can barely tolerate hearing 'can't hardly' (my improved version of 'I can hardly tolerate...'). 'Can hardly', after all, can barely compare to 'can barely.'

Actually, hardly may be stripped of phraseology altogether and be better left totally to the role of the single word response to a question.  "You going to date him?"


Now that I'm fully awake and thinking about it, 'hardly' as the single word response may be obsolete already.

"You going to date him?"


So, let's just throw 'hardly' under the bus and be done with it.  As crisp, clean, clear writers, it's the least we can do.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Myriad Debate

The jury is not necessarily in on the proper use of 'myriad'.  For years we heard 'a myriad, and 'myriads of', then 'myriad' started standing alone.  'A myriad stars'  or 'myriads of stars' is music to our ears.  Most people still use these two phrases.  Some muck it up completely and say 'a myriad of stars'.

Once my mentor declared the acceptable form among widely published authors, like him and his novelist friends, is 'myriad', my love of myriad was ruined forever.

Over time, I became a believer of the single myriad.  I had to do it on my own terms, however, with a comparison I could accept.  Here's how it goes.  Myriad is a word indicating vast numbers, like the word 'thousand'.  Would we say 'a thousand of stars?  No, we'd drop the 'of'.  So, I'm okay with "a myriad stars'. Likewise, as in the plural, we would say 'thousands of stars' and drop the 'a'.  So, I'm okay with 'myriads of stars'.

If you find yourself giving pause the next time you use 'myriad', you can blame me.  Then, you'll most likely sort it out for yourself.  Some of you may choose to research it, too.  I didn't recently.  I'm pretty sure that jury is, indeed, still out.  One of the things I love most about language is that it changes, and, eventually, the rules of usage actually catch up with the usage.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Welcome to Coach Writes

Yes, I write.  I also read, speak, edit, publish and coach.  Well, that's enough about me.  This is a "happy place" for writers and wannabe writers.  I offer you the best of what I've learned through tips, tidbits, tales and you add another 't' word; see, you're inspired to write already.

I want to pay forward the wealth I've found in words over the past several decades.  A few entries each week will also keep me writing while continuing on my coaching path.  I'll have links and tons of assists, a full website or two in time.  For now, I'll keep it simple.

Words Worth Sharing:  miasma, myriad  I'll talk about those tomorrow.