Not A Wordsmith

UPDATE: Look at this wonderful piece by Constance Hale Scribe on the crafting of sentences. It’s chock full of fine sentence examples, some of which I could add to my list! -ed.

Sometimes, I am astonished at how much vocabulary I lack. I want to describe things and try to think of words other than “thing” or “whatever,” and I often fail, pathetically. This is not to say that I don’t recognize words when I read, because I do. But it seems that in the moment that I need to procure a word, an apt description, my little brain fails me. I pick up a book and marvel at that author’s ability to craft a sentence using the most appropriate words. I wonder to myself, did she sit there for a long time trying to find the words or did the words just come spilling out?
I am reading a fantastic book, Blood Bones and Butter,  loaned to me by my friend Alison. It’s a memoir by Gabrielle Hamilton, the owner of the restaurant Prune in New York City.

This sentence, I love: “It caught, like an emotion, at the back of my throat.”

Seriously, now. What a perfect description of a feeling that I have all the time. And I never would’ve thought to describe it that way.

And there are countless other well-crafted sentences that I’ve run into, in the 20-odd years that I’ve been a reader. I should be writing them down! And so I will. While I’m reading a hardcover of Blood Bones and Butter, I’m in the habit of reading ebooks these days. What’s neat about ebooks is that I can highlight and annotate whole sections of text as I read, without having to stop to pick up a pen to record my thoughts. (Does that make me lazy or efficient?)

You can find the sentences I’ve captured here: Well-Crafted Words

ETA: As I was walking to pick up Alice from school (in the pouring, pouring rain!), I remembered a phrase that I wrote, in a college paper about a novel (Which one? Not sure…). Even my professor was impressed.

…the languid dawning of day.

I should really give myself more credit. I come up with good stuff sometimes.  Why don’t I do it more often? (Also, while I was walking in said rain, pushing a stroller, I embarked on a mental tangent about giving ourselves more slack but since I couldn’t write it down, the profound thinks I thought have vanished into the ether. Damn it.)

(This post contains IndieBound affiliate links. This means if you click the link and buy the book, I get a percentage of the sales.) 

2 thoughts on “Not A Wordsmith”

  1. I feel that way all of the time. My high school friend used to use the word "lethargic" all of the time and it made me feel small and vocabulary-challenged. I still can feel that way often.

    However I do think people often appreciate it if I sound authentic so one day I told her to shut up and just say she's tired! It wasn't my finest moment.

  2. I felt the same way when a high school frenemy (but now friendly Facebook friend!) used the word "yawp" in a poem she submitted for the high school lit mag. I hated that I had to look it up.

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