Writing Out Loud

The Case of the Missing Words


Working with words is not, even for writers, always a pleasant undertaking. Words, like recalcitrant wheel bolts or jar lids, often get stuck or lost “on their way to the light.” And the wordsmith has no choice but to struggle and strain in order to get them to assume their correct positions inside a thought or in a sentence. Ideas sometimes defy being restrained by a formal grouping of words, while the words themselves sometimes resist BEING lumped together into not-always-pretty shapes. In short, it’s not working, and the writer’s job is to get it to!

This brings me to yet another metaphor for the writing process, and that’s sculpture. Because is a finely and beautiful composed sentence not a work of art? Has it not been shaped by the mind of the writer/artist, with each sound, each phoneme melding with all the others to produce The Idea?

Sometimes the working medium is, like clay, too soft. It doesn’t hold together well and falls apart the minute I turn my mind from it. I can pat and shape and smooth all I want, but my heart’s not in it, and somehow, the clay knows this. Other times, writing is like using a dull chisel to chip away at a piece of marble. I KNOW the shape is in there, but it’s just not working! So it’s time to either improve the clay’s density or sharpen the chisel, because those words won’t wait, as any writer can attest to. They might be there, shining and sparkling like gems one minute, and then the next, they’re gone, never to be found again, or at least not in that particular stellar order. And if I do happen to find them, I simply cannot get them back into the shape they took for me early that morning when I first awakened and there they were in perfect formation inside a mind not yet encumbered with the flotsam and jetsam of a typical day.

Then, try as I might, a few of the words will come back to me, but the good ones will be missing, along with how brilliantly I was able to string them together while still half asleep. Of course, if I ever do manage to catch up with those missing words, they instantly go right back into the vault where they are once again lost among all the others waiting patiently, or not, for another early morning and a mind wiped relatively clean.


Author: raelove1950

I've been writing personally and professionally for over 40 years, and recently started writing books for Amazon Kindle. During the last 25 years, I have also written for the Journal Tribune in Biddeford, Maine; the Maine Sunday Telegram in Portland, Maine; Current Publishing in Westbrook, Maine; and the Reporter, a weekly newspaper based in Waterboro, Maine. I recently released a book entitled "From the Urban Wilderness: Life in the Southern Maine Woods," which is a collection of essays taken from a weekly column I wrote for the Journal Tribune from 2010 to 2016. It is available from Amazon.com and CreateSpaceStore.com .

2 thoughts on “The Case of the Missing Words

  1. I think that’s why many people are scared to take on a writing career…they’re afraid of the “word stumbling block! I can only imagine it takes much time and patience to get those words and sentences to “dance” to the right tune!


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