I’m spilling words. My brain has been so crammed full of them in the last several months that they no longer want to stay in my brain. Words now seem to fall out of my mouth without organization as well as expel themselves from my vocabulary, sometimes right in the middle of a sentence I may be trying to speak at the time.
I don’t claim to know what all of them mean, nor do I claim to use them all correctly. And I certainly can’t claim to spell them all with precision. But no matter where I go, I am surrounded by them: big ones, little ones, strange ones, familiar ones, words that are written, words that are said, words that are sung, and words that spontaneously erupt from my head. I can’t escape them. Although at times I wish I could.
On Becoming an Author
For those of you who don’t know, last year I was immersed in finishing my first book. This meant that not only was I scanning other authors’ books, articles, and websites, but I was also generating many pages of words a day of my own. In addition to this mountain of written words, I was listening to thousands of words pour out of my clients’ mouths each day. And being a natural listener, friends, family, neighbors, grocery store clerks, salespeople, fellow travelers, veterinarian technicians, and many, many others often share their words whether invited or not. Most of the time I’m just fine with this, and I usually feel honored that others feel comfortable enough to share their stories and lives with me. But when my brain is already spilling words, it’s hard to pack a few more in. Perhaps this is why I value silence so much—I just can’t bear to digest even one more word at the end of the day.
When you finish writing a book, it is really only the beginning of long journey, not the completion. The writing of the book is easy, the editing, proofing, and approval of the final copy is the hard part. As a defense mechanism, I started calling the editing and correction process “redecorating”, simply to find some humor in all of the red marks the editor so willingly provided. Then the proofing process followed. When already bulging from words, the last thing you want to do is gorge yourself on a hefty helping of more—especially when you are looking through the eyes of perfection so that your readers won’t think you are a total moron as they catch the misspelled words you overlooked the first thousand times you read and re-read your manuscript (or challenge you to diagram the run-on sentences you produce such as the one you just read).
But something odd has been happening lately. The word “author” seems to be popping into my awareness almost as often as I sense myself getting overstuffed with words. I get emails from local writers groups discussing “author” issues. I receive newsletters from publishers offering marketing tips and services for authors. My friends are sending articles for creating social media platforms to promote new authorship. I recently met several authors at a retreat center in Costa Rica. I now have two writers and two editors as clients, all who talk about the trials and tribulations of being an author.
Author: The Etymology
Even in a recent Spirituality and Health magazine, Thomas Moore did a piece on his own journey into authorship. He told the world about how the word “author” came from the latin word “auctorem” which meant “one who causes to grow”. This article inspired me to research the origin of the word, and the entry said that “author” means “enlarger, founder, master, and instigator”. “Author” is also apparently related to the Latin word “augere” (augment) which means “to increase”. I enjoyed learning about the etymology of the word, and somehow felt affirmed that in my quest to help others learn and grow through explaining my Soul Health Model, I was also simultaneously living up to the original meaning of the word—I was causing others to grow, and hopefully instigating some deep thought along the way. So, in essence, I set out to teach others, not knowing that by writing and becoming an “author” that I would, in fact, embody the meaning of the word itself!
And then the other morning as I was getting ready for work, a memory from my past barged into my awareness. I remembered a time long ago when I was in the middle of my 5th grade spelling bee. The word I had to spell was “author”. And much to my dismay, both then and now, I got it wrong. I spelled it as “auther”, and I didn’t live it down for the remainder of the year. My teacher teased me in every opportunity until I vowed to myself that I would never misspell the word again. I laughed out loud when this memory emerged and then finished drying my hair. (Mr. Dudrick, if you’re out there, rest assured that you taught me well and I’ve never misspelled that word again!)
I am becoming more and more conscious of the importance of words—and more self-conscious as a result! The irony of misspelling “author” seems even more powerful now that I am one. And having just experienced the editing (a.k.a. “redecorating”) process of a 274 page book, I can honestly say that I have immeasurable respect for anyone who has sent their own words out into the world in any shape or form. Don Miguel Ruiz explains in his book The Four Agreements how to be impeccable with your words as you remain mindful about your actions throughout each moment of the day. It is hard to do this when you feel like the words are seeping out of your brain or getting jumbled in their overabundance.
[On a side note, my curiosity led me to research the etymology of the word “word”, which, it turns out, is a relatively young member of our language (from the 1500’s) in relation to many other items in our vocabulary. There doesn’t appear to be a direct derivation of the word itself, which seems odd given that words are our main form of communication.]
For some strange and possibly masochistic reason, I still enjoy the writing process. In fact, despite my flood of words, I can’t wait to write more. I can’t wait to pull out the dictionary and learn more meanings, correct more misspellings, and form new combinations of the darned things. Throughout this process, I have found myself writing in my head as I drift off to sleep, and wake up picking up where I left off. I may be out walking the dogs when more words rush in and I hope to remember them as I arrive back at the house. (Then I rush to my laptop or notepad to jot them down before I spill the words so much that they get lost to memory.)
To an author, words are everything—misspelled or not. They have become the air I breathe and as a result, they have shaped my identity in a whole new way. A couple years ago I heard a fellow author say that you don’t know what you are going to write until you write it. At the time, this seemed impossible. I now know it to be true because when an author gets into his/her groove, the words seem to fall onto the paper with surprising ease—much like the natural rhythm of breath.
So, cheers to “words”. May we give them our ultimate respect.