When words are your clay, they show you things.
Things you wouldn’t have seen if you weren’t with them in the night, in the attic, in the grocery store, in the everywhere that is your life. Like the meditation master who revels in the majesty of a tree’s bark, you revel in words’ wholeness.
And it’s not what you’d expect.
Let’s back up a bit. Have you ever followed the exact recipe of a family member’s signature dish only to have it fall short? I have—even with my mom directing my every whisk. What intangible spice did I miss that she somehow always slips in?
Some say love.
And the same thing happens with words.
When you are fully present with them, when you appreciate them, when you mold them into emotions and settings and characters with the aim of transporting readers elsewhere . . . when you know they are what afford you your boundlessness, it gets interesting.
You notice the little things at first, like their feel in your mouth—how certain ones require a curved tongue, and others need pursed lips at the finish like a whistle. Alone in your car, you’ll say your favorites. I like the stickiness of the word cake. I like how it ends the way it begins.
And as your interest deepens, the words become more active. They ask for things. They tap your shoulder at awkward times—like when you have no paper to write them down. Sometimes, the sinuous words of Romantic languages beg to be matched with brusk Anglo-Saxon varieties. Sometimes, a single word demands to stand alone.
The clay is different in your hands now. It knows you know it.
And it knows you.
It knows the emotions you wish to craft, the voices you long to create, your boundlessness. For you and your words now live—knowingly—in the realm of deep co-creation. In flow.
So, why not write that short story? Why not start that novel? Don’t worry about the end product at first. Just spend some quality time with words. Let them become your clay. The best rewards will come in hours of solitude, long before you share your work with another.
Because in the end, it’s always love.
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