Thursday, May 13, 2010
Pulling Up Words
After a moment, the smallest of the robins drew my eye. This little bird had hit the jackpot, having caught hold of a monster of a worm, and was pulling for all it was worth, rearing back and straining its tiny body, releasing the taut-stretched worm for a lightning-quick instant to gain a better hold on its vast length--vast in robin-reckoning, anyway. But the worm wasn't giving ground without a fight. I stood there rooting for the bird going the rounds with its breakfast, and was inordinately cheered when it finally won the battle. In a second the robin swallowed its prize and immediately began its darting, cock-eyed search for the next worm.
Writing (you knew this would come back to writing, didn't you?) can be every bit as toilsome. Sometimes the word I crave, that precise word that will evoke the sensory image or mood that a character or scene requires to come springing off the page with a life of its own--and do so without calling too much attention to itself--is captured with nothing less than the same relentless tenacity displayed by the little robin. Sometimes it's a battle I wage to yank that word from the hard-packed soil that is my brain.
Some days the worm wins. Some days I wish I were a bigger robin.
But success--capturing that perfect word, that wriggling juicy right word--belongs not always to the biggest, the fastest, the one with an eagle's soaring talent, but to the writer who doggedly goes on tugging at word after word... after word.
~photo by sparkle1103/Flickr