Saturday, December 4, 2010

Blank Page, Take That

It was a word. Denizen. I remember using it in an essay I wrote after my first interview ever. The woman I interviewed was in her 80s, living in rural Missouri and remembered when electricity first came to her home.

I had locked myself in my bedroom and was sitting at my desk (which my mother still has), writing the essay about her life for a contest on rural electrification. I wanted a word to describe her, and that's the word I found: denizen. I loved it. It was cool. It was another way of calling her a resident, and it made me want to keep going, thinking myself clever and all.

All good writing advice says stay away from the thesaurus, and for the most part, I try to follow that advice. Denizen probably looked quite out of place in a 15-year-old's prose. But it was fun learning new words and using them. My mom said too many $2 words in my recent draft manuscript. I retooled. But a good word is worth a million bucks.

I write because it's fun and because I love words. And I like to take a blank page and make something out of it. It's about creating images. Which can be a trip. And reaching into a character's head besides your own. I'm not intimidated by the blank, white stuff. Give me a glowing screen or a lined notebook. And take that.

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