I’m a word collector. I gather them like other people press flowers, catalog stamps, or collect coins. They’re ordered, described and curated with care, then shepherded into books that dot my shelves.
When I was in grade 4 the teacher, Miss Phillips, who got married and became Mrs. King in a confusion of names, had us fold and staple several pieces of paper together to make a book. We wrote our names and hers on the front, along with our room number. Right in the middle of the front cover, we wrote Book of Words in ink, in our neatest cursive. We labored over each letter, keenly aware of the responsibility of holding her trust in our penmanship. No longer ungainly caterpillars who scrawled with pencils, we had blossomed into pen-wielding butterflies.
This wasn’t to be a dictionary, she insisted. It was where we could collect words that we found interesting, unusual, or difficult. If we read a story and encountered a new word we didn’t know the meaning of, she told us to write it in our books. Next to each word we would write a definition from the dictionary, and a sentence to show the word’s use in context. I faithfully scribbled words that were new to me, words that I didn’t know the meaning of, words that had sounds that didn’t match their spellings, words with interesting shapes and repetitions.
Over the years the old stapled together books have crumbled into coffee stained ashes, been lost in moves, or been replaced. I graduated from lined pages, cobbled together, featuring my cautious cursive, to tiny spiral-bound notebooks, school composition books, and eventually fancy Moleskines filled with my looped script.
I’m not as consistent at recording new words as I was in grade 4, but I still collect beautiful words, which sometimes make their presence felt on the pages of my work. How do you gather words and wrangle them together on the page?
March Poetry Slam: Blank Verse
We want to get back to the basics this month. The basics of poetry, that is. It’s been almost two years since we first delved into blank verse for a poetry slam, and while we’d like to pretend all the new folks go back through our writing help section regularly, even we don’t do that. But blank verse is one of the building blocks of great poetry, and even if it’s not your favorite form, there’s tremendous value in learning to do it well. So this month we’re going back to the blank page to write some blank verse. Learn more from Rowan here.
Prompt up is our optional weekly writing prompt for the fiction|poetry challenge! Here’s how it works: we announce a sentence prompt from last week’s winning nonfiction post. It’s your job to use that prompt in your story or poem in some way. Feel free to use it as your first sentence, move it somewhere else, change it, or float it down to other territories.
Melony sent us to the principal’s office in her post this week. The Prompt Up taken from her essay is: “I stared straight into his eyes and drove the lie home.”
How to submit and fully participate in the challenge:
Basic YeahWrite guidelines: 750 word limit; your entry can be dated no earlier than this past Sunday; fiction or poetry only.
1. In the sidebar of this week’s post, please grab the code beneath the fiction|poetry badge and paste it into the HTML view of your entry;
2. Follow the Inlinkz instructions after clicking “add your link” to upload your entry to this week’s challenge grid;
3. Your entry should appear immediately on the grid if you don’t receive an error message;
4. Please make the rounds to read all the entries in this week’s challenge; and
5. Consider turning off moderated comments and CAPTCHA on your own blog.
Submissions for this week’s challenges will close on Wednesday at 10pm ET. Voting will then open immediately thereafter and close on Thursday at 10pm ET. The winners, as always, will be celebrated on Friday.
Thank you for sharing with us your hard work! Good luck in the challenge…
About the author:
An English Professor and award-winning freelance writer living in Southern California, Natalie has written for a variety of publications such as Mind Oddity, The Huffington Post, Have Heart Magazine and Cinapse. She writes about life and the arts on her personal blog The Cat Lady Sings and as a hopeless polymath, enjoys too many hobbies to be a practical person. Natalie is a Contributing Editor here at YeahWrite.