Who is on the plum tree?
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