Niamh Clune

Environment, poetry, comment, children's books,

I Love Words! By Niamh Clune

I love words…words

Words are particularly difficult creatures to organise. With minds of their own, they will misbehave if not treated with respect. Some have inferiority complexes!  Usually, large words  engage the writer’s efforts. Little words feel ignored. Out of spite, they will change the sense of something – subtly. This is why, out of politeness, I court them, avoiding the larger, more impressive words that strut across the page creating the illusion of self-importance.

In order to alleviate their usually mundane task, I challenge little words – “Be brave,” I say, “paint pictures of demons and souls!”

Encouragement brings out the best in them. I discipline, orchestrate, conduct. Why shouldn’t they convey mighty themes, dark, as well as light; why shouldn’t they perform symphonic melodies?

Profound ideas will fit into simple, pithy sentences. If, out of necessity, a larger word is cast in the starring role, I ask the little words to group together, be backing vocalists, sing the background metaphor. Without them, the stage cannot be set, nor story told, meaning is lost, the sentence cold.

Words have power. They are capable of conveying meaning on many levels of consciousness at once. They are imaginal catalysts, image-makers. I aspire to use them well. I am still trying.

Copyright Niamh Clune 1998

About Dr Niamh

When I was a little girl (a very, very long time ago), I used to love learning new, really big words like ‘discombobulate’. As I grew, my love of words grew too, until I loved them so much, I could not stop writing them down. One day, as I was scribbling a particular word, a very peculiar thing happened. The word shouted at me, “Stop! Don’t put me there!” As you can imagine, I was shocked and nearly fell off my chair. When I recovered somewhat, I said to the word, “Could you stop shouting, please? I am not used to it.” Can you guess what happened next? No! I thought not. The word said, “I might be small, but I will misbehave if you do not use me properly. I will not tell the story you would like me to tell. I will say something entirely different!” I dropped my pen. I hoped that by dropping my pen, the word would stop talking. Alas! It did not. It carried on chitterchobbling, even after the ink had dried. I was in a pickle. I could not allow my words to run away with my story, now could I? I don’t know about you, but when this sort of thing happens, there is only one thing left to do if you prefer not to spend your time arguing. “Very well,” said I. “I will do as you ask if you will just be quiet and allow me to concentrate.” Since that day, I have been paying special attention to every word I invite into my stories. After all, a story should say exactly what it means to say and not be led astray. With love from Dr. Niamh, Ph.D in Learning Through The Imagination and Founder of Dr Niamh Children's Books.

14 comments on “I Love Words! By Niamh Clune

  1. Patricia Tilton
    April 10, 2013

    What a lovely article. Something to ponder.


  2. nicholeck
    April 10, 2013

    I’ve honestly never compared writing to music, although I love both. Great connection! Also, I love the line “Be brave, paint pictures of demons and souls.” That’s beautiful writing.


    • ontheplumtree
      April 11, 2013

      Many thanks, nicholeck for stopping by to leave a comment. Words are written to read out loud!


  3. Darlene
    April 11, 2013

    I love words too and you use them so well in this article (as you always do!)


  4. Uncle Tree
    April 11, 2013

    I know those words. 😉


  5. patriciasands
    April 11, 2013

    Bravissima! You should step from the podium, lay aside your baton, and take a well-deserved bow to my standing ovation. This was simply beautiful.


  6. the secret keeper
    April 11, 2013

    I heard the orchestra while reading your post. The little words are usually given their disrespect but that doesn’t happen with your writing. You doing a brilliant job and knowing when which size word is needed. If all you have were solos and the canons going off at the end of the 1812 Overture, you’d have explosions and emptiness. Without the second and third strings to fill out the empty spaces you wouldn’t have a performance. Yes, there is a place for the Yo Yo Ma’s. but you need that flute or oboe or string section to finesse through the complete sound that so thrills the audience. The same is so with the smaller words. They are the not just fillers but they are the cohesion and they are the power when you are talking about words such as dark and light, soul and heart. They may be one syllable each but they hold such depth of meaning within them. Think of the word dream. Another word that conjures up so much imagery. No word could transplant into their place and carry the same power. I must say that when I write my Haiku, I lean toward the use of the larger words but they still need their one syllables to pull their meanings together. You do court the little words well and give them favour and when it is time for the soloists of larger words need to make an entrance the smaller words prepare for their entrance in order to make to make it more spectacular. I like the way you use a musical union to demonstrate your post. They work so well together and always have. There is so much communication between the both. Your post is brilliant and speaks so well about sharing the meek with the grand. If there were no words such as dark and light, dream and nightmare, demons and angels, these are all powerful words and irreplaceable. So the large words need in turn to support these words with their occasional presence. A very impressive presentation for the little ones. I give your post an A+ and two thumbs up. It have given me a positive outlook on the world today. Thanks, Niamh. Oh, I love the illustration. It fits your post so well. It is an expression of how mystical and magical the way that you use words. They are your friends b/c you treat them with respect and they in turn are cooperative to your use of them. Once again a fantastic post. Bellissimo! jk 😎


  7. thiskidreviewsbooks
    April 11, 2013

    What a great analogy! I LOVE this!


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This entry was posted on April 10, 2013 by in Special Projects and tagged , , , , , , , , , .
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