The Humour and Serendipity of the Word of the Day

In the last couple of weeks I have had a bit of a writer’s block. After working so hard on completely irradiating a full-on block in the last few years, I knew that I wasn’t really blocked, it was more that I was not being true to myself in my writing. I’ve discovered that every now and then I succumb to societal pressure and start trying to write what I ‘think’ I should write. This ultimately drives me to tears. Bored tears. Frustrated tears. Angry tears. So I focused on doing a whole heap of practical and physical things instead, to give my poor brain a wee bit of a break, and to let my, deeper and wiser, inner-self focus without the inner dialogue.

Several months back, I signed up to Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day emails, so I could keep learning new words. I read a lot, so I’ve have seen and digested plenty of words, but my lexical memory is not great, so I thought it would help with that too. The daily emails are great and they even have a quiz, so when I feel like a little brain game, I’ll geek-out and do a vocabulary quiz (For true!). The serendipitous thing is, so many times Word of the Day will sum up exactly what I’ve been pondering. If I’ve been doing some deep thinking about the meaning of life, or about love, relationships, people, violence, or any other nonsense, then the Word of the Day comes along and highlights my thinking in a way that is often ironic, pointed and generally amusing; which beautifully reminds me not to take life so seriously.

So, to switch off my head: I went out on my beloved bike, went to the gym (lots), dug and planted up the garden (mostly finished), and finished off a whole stack of painting tasks I’d set myself (furniture restoring, not canvases!). And I trusted my creative process. I knew by just letting myself forget all the nonsense of ‘trying’ to be a writer, I’d eventually unpack the conformist part of my brain, relax and come up with a story I actually wanted to write.

As I was sanding, digging, cycling, painting, sweating, I realised this recent block was linked very directly to how I had been feeling about the nature of the society I live in. Randomly, one sunny morning, I’d picked up a book that was being given away. I thought it looked interesting, but reading the blurb I saw it was the same old heterosexual story again. It was supposed to be a detective story, but was in fact a heterosexual love story, with a detective story setting. I suppose, because I am not heterosexual, I notice this stuff. I notice every day how so much of our culture is assumed to be heterosexual, and how it’s still so damned normative. And that morning, after 30 years of being queer, it just made me mad.

Think about it, how many times have you seen a ‘Heterosexual’ book-list? Or a film review that says, ‘This film deals with the issue of being heterosexual in a sensitive way.’ Or looked at a billboard of a couple kissing and thought, ‘Oh my! A woman and man kissing. I don’t mind what people do in the privacy of their own homes, everyone has the right to choose who they love, but I don’t want to see it!’

As well, I’d read a great article on the etymology of the word cunt. And the same week I’d had some feedback about one of my beautifully lewd fairy tales; the reader had said quite angrily how I’d used far too many different words to describe cunts, which for me was the point: an ode to something I adore. I didn’t understand the anger. It didn’t seem all about me being too descriptive, which I admit I can be at times, so I was puzzled. So, all this was brewing and spinning around in my head, and it manifested itself as a block.

Then the other night, as I knew I would, I had a fabulous idea for a story. It’s complete and utter dykish, fantasy, fun and will fit beautifully in with my other adult fairy tales. So, I started writing this tale and also tried to write a post about it, but found that I was trying to justify why I was writing this insanely funny and rude story. And that was when the magic happened. Just as I was grrrr-ing at myself and telling myself to take a chill pill, the Word of the Day arrives in my inbox. The email said: ‘Exculpate: to clear from alleged fault or guilt.’ I actually laughed. It stopped my inner-critic in its tracks and made me think, “Yes, there no reason to excuse myself, or my writing, or my anger, or my desire to change things for now and the future now. Full stop.”

So, what’s next is a story that I am really excited by. It fun and all about the deliciousness of women. I’m going to dive into the tale, have some fun exploring the realm of women’s bodies, and have a magical journey.

So, watch this space for a snippet of the tale.

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