Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Go Ahead, Play With Your Words

That's right: chew them, throw them, see if they stick to the wall or slide down. Step on them, mush them, ball them up and sit on them. Like a toddler who plays with his food, we should play with our words, smear them around and taste them.

I finished The Book Thief a few days ago and all I can say is wow, wow, wow. Both from both a reader's and writer's perspective.

His writing was fresh and intriguing. Vivid. I noticed Zusak constantly attributed human actions to nonliving things. Of course I had to look him up. I found this interview and think it's worth watching, especially his thoughts on writing at the end (3min52sec).

He's the one who's now encouraging me to play with my words.



Do you play with your words? Or are you constantly reaching for a napkin?

38 comments:

Tabitha Bird said...

Do I play with my words? Now Jessica, you know I do! :) I smush them up with everything in me :) I finger paint and face paint and make mud pies. And then when I am done, I like to see what sort of beauty there might emerge from the mess :))

Oh and I loved the book thief too! LOVED IT!

Wendy Paine Miller said...

His is a beautiful work. I cried at the story of the Standover Man. I also will never forget the description, swampy eyes.

I love to play with my words. It's part of the joy of writing.
~ Wendy

Linda Kage said...

I've actually bought the book, but I haven't been able to read it yet. But I loved that interview...and I loved your advice.

Thank you!

Jessica Nelson said...

LOL Tabitha. Yep, I know you do. In fact, I could take some lessons from you, I think. :-)

Wendy, there were so many good things in that story. In almost every sentence. It was really beautiful.

Linda, I hope you get a chance to read it. There are sad parts but overall it's a fast, hopeful read. :-)

Georgiana said...

I'd love to play more with my words, but I rarely take the risk! Hmm, maybe I do it more when I'm writing in first person, but the way you describe it sounds like so much fun :D

Julie Jarnagin said...

I get in word ruts, but I'm working to get out of them. I'll have to add this to my reading list.

Patti said...

I loved that interview. I bought this book for my son to read, but I think I'm going to have to steal it back.

I especially loved his comment about forgetting there's a world out there. I struggle with that sometimes.

Keli Gwyn said...

Like Georgiana, I'm not a big risk taker. For the first four years of my writing journey, I felt my hands were tied by the many rules and guidelines I'd learned. Now that I have a better grasp of craft, I'm giving myself permission to play with words more often, and it's such fun.

Jessie, would you be willing to share a couple of brief examples from The Book Thief that showcase the creativity that has captivated you?

Cindy said...

I love to play with my words. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. The more I learn, the more I can use my edits to modify what I wanted to say but still be creative.

Erica Vetsch said...

This made me really want to read this book!

I have found the times when I play with words, my crit partners give me happy faces.

I love getting happy faces. :)

Jessica Nelson said...

Georgiana, I'll confess that I use my napkin way too frequently also. :-)

Me too, Julie. Me, too.

Patti, this book was really great from in so many ways. I hope you get a chance to read it!

Jessica Nelson said...

Keli, absolutely!!! I was going to do a post on some of the words/paragraphs I loved. I returned it to the library but before the post I'll go get it again so I can find some awesome parts. I think Janna once gave an example, which is what made me want to read the book.

Cindy, very true. Good old edits. :-)

LOL Erica!!! I love those crit happy faces too.

Mystery Robin said...

That is great advice! I often feel like I'm in a rut with my words. Clearly, I need to play more. ;)

Jeanette Levellie said...

Oh, I must get this book! Thanks for the post, and the clip. He is amazing.

I don't play with my words as much as I should. When I do, I feel God's pleasure.

Excellent post, Jessie!;)

Karen Lange said...

I need to play with my words more. I have a tendency to reach for the napkin too often. Thanks for sharing!
Blessings,
Karen

Susan J. Reinhardt said...

Hi Jess -

Thanks for bringing this book to my attention. I'm noticing some WWII titles coming out. Historicals are getting closer and closer to my generation. LOL!

I like to paint word pictures, so I guess I do play with them.

Blessings,
Susan :)

Diane said...

I play with my thesaurus and dictionary..... does that count? :O)

denise petrovich said...

Boy do I need to get his book. I so look forward to it now. Thank you. Mom

Nancy J. Parra said...

Great post! I love playing with words. What a fantastic idea to mash them up and throw them at walls. Writing should be fun. Cheers~

T. Anne said...

I LOVED the Book Thief! My boys are reading it now. I cried the entire last half.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Oh, I have the book but haven't read it yet! I guess I need to move it up on my TBR list!! :-)

Jessica Nelson said...

T. Anne, are you the one making it required reading for school? I'm seriously thinking of doing a post on that.

Shannon, hurry! :-) It's a good one, and an easy, beautiful read (as in not too complex, but not easy because it deals with hard topics.)

Jessica Nelson said...

Nancy, yep. Sometimes I think we lose the "fun" trying to fit the mold we're told we should fit.

Mom, I think you would really, really like it!

LOL Diane! Probably counts. *grin* Just put all those words you look up to good use.

Linda Glaz said...

Play with the words. It's like when you're learning a new language, if you don't speak it as much as possible, you won't learn very fast. Playing with new words lets you learn faster. So play away!

Jessica Nelson said...

Mystery Robin, I need to play more too. You know, all work, no play makes a writer dreary and gray. Heh.

Jeanette, I think you're on to something. I think God does feel pleasure when we enjoy using the talents he's given us. :-)

Me too, Karen. Maybe I ought to get rid of the napkins?

Susan, that must be such an odd feeling!

Jessie Oliveros said...

I try to attribute human actions ot nonliving things. (Not sure if it's successful....) Anyway, I like writing that way, but I've read criticism for that as well. So subjective.

Glynis said...

I have a pile of napkins, Jessica.

Glad you enjoyed the book.

Happy Scribbling.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I like flinging my words across the room and seeing where they land. :)

This is the second post in ten minutes that I've seen about The Book Thief. Amazing how favorites always pop up again and again.

Kara said...

I haven't read this book, but now I need to:) I love to play with my words, makes writing more fun!

Jessica Nelson said...

Linda, that's so true about languages! I used to know Spanish much better than now, when I barely speak it.

Jessie, true about subjectivity.

Me too, Glynis. Should we throw them in the trash? *grin*

Jessica Nelson said...

Karen, yep. And the reason I read it is because I heard so much about it across the blogosphere. Plus I saw a sample of the writing.

Kara, good for you for playing! ;-)

Terri Tiffany said...

I love how writers give attributes to non-living things.I wish I could do it and have tried but it doesn't come easily.
So I try to play with my words but I don't think I do enough.

Nancy said...

Yes, words are fun to play with. I enjoy funny and un usual words. I have even been known to put down a book and look up a "big" word in my enormous dictionary. Love it.

Stephanie Faris said...

This book sounds fascinating. I'm going to have to read it!

Lynn said...

What I love about blogging too, is learning about excellent new reads. I love playing with words, especially using tools such as alliteration. There are pieces I've written just for play that I've tucked away to never see the light of day. But maybe I'm wrong?

Angie Muresan said...

I'm glad you enjoyed the book. Wow, wow, wow was my reaction too.

Deb Shucka said...

Thank you for this video. The Book Thief is one of my favorite stories, and I loved getting to hear it's author speak. What a cutie! And what wonderful, sweet, clear energy. Here's to playing in the sandbox of words.

Jessica Nelson said...

Deb, Here, here! :-) Yeah, I liked listening to him talk too. lol

Stephanie, I hope you pick it up!