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Monday, January 31, 2011


To a writer every word has a halo of meanings and a streamer of associations trailing off into distant possibilities and improbabilities.  These sometimes clump themselves together for no lingustic, logical or apparent reasons. In my head I have a sort of thesaurus of associations by sense or by sound or by images as well as of meaning.  Any word comes to me as a string or meaning and association which I have to weave into the tapestry of what I am writing.  

Single syllable words beginning “PR”, for instance.  To me these all associate with nursery stories and pantomime.  “Prink” “preen” and primp” is what the Ugly Sisters do before they prod Cinders into fetching and carrying for them.  Sleeping Beauty pricks her finger on a distaff.  Jack gets a couple of magic beans as the price for Daisy the Cow.  Buttons plays a couple of pranks on Cinders and executes a prat fall or two.  The wolf prowls around in the forest.  Nowhere in English literature do you find prunes except in Widow Twankey’s shopping basket alongside a packet of Daz and a string of sausages. And, finally the Prince prances up on his pony and wins the prize by kissing the Sleeping Beauty.

Longer words beginning with the same letters have more practical, technical associations.   Projects are carried out for profit under pressure.

And then there are the very abstract and rarified words like “precept” and “procrastination” “principal” and “principle” and “prelate”.

Of course, I choose words according to register or the language code I am working in, but to be able to string together a necklace of association at the same time I find intensely profitable.

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