At times in our house we are what you might call verbally challenged. I confess to being a little hard of hearing, to the extent that I have a hearing aid. My husband, the long-suffering Mr C, has reading glasses. Neither of us are very good at remembering to put them in/on. Only this week we were talking at breakfast and over the crunching of my Minibix I heard quite clearly "word, word, volleyball, word." (It's always a relief to hear something clearly to give me something to grip onto as I slide into misunderstanding.) "Volleyball?" I say, mid-crunch. "Volleyball?" Mr C replies, with a slight spreading of the syllables to give me enough of a clue that my ears have failed again. "I said Bible". Oh. Not to be outdone, I point out that his texts to me over the past two weeks have included the phrases "Git BBC", "Prayer for pudge on" and "Donor park here". Oh, indeed.
As writers we continually search for the right word to use, scouring our memories and our thesauri for the one which absolutely fits. Even in conversation I am conscious of picking my words carefully, conscious also that the more tired I get, the longer the words tend to become (which is why I like to write in the mornings, for everyone's sake). I remember back in Latin classes at school the teacher, the formidable Mrs W, teaching us that the root to the word "argument" was to do with sharpening swords. Thus, in an argument of its truest kind, we are sharpening or honing our thoughts and judgements against those of our opponent.
A no-more-friend used to love arguing with me. Our verbal parries would go back and forth, me never seeming to gain ground, until her final lunge which was always this phrase: "It's just semantics." Whatever she knew the dictionary definition to be, what she meant by it was, "I don't care what you think or feel about this issue. At the end of the day, it's only words."
ONLY WORDS?! As if the writer's lifeblood could be so easily dismissed? Let us never stop our obsession with words which play in our minds and tease us in our dreams. The right words can make our hearts sing or our souls grieve. They can heal a relationship or destroy it completely. Whatever else we strive for and fail at, let us never say "It's only words."