Kate Flora: Oops! There I was, settling in to watch Episode Two of the new True Detective when suddenly my iPad went “ding!” and there was the reminder. Blog for MCW tomorrow. Thought I’d done that. It was definitely on the list. The list that’s here somewhere, buried under a million other tiny pieces of paper. “Gotta go write a blog post” I tell my husband. “You know what you’re going to write?” he asks. “Absolutely no idea.”
Things don’t get better when I’m at my desk, staring at the blank white page. Nor when I rustle around the room, looking for a handful of reference books.
Well, heck, I think, maybe I can recycle some old thing. But when I find that old thing, it only reminds me that it isn’t suitable. So I dig out my trusty Rodale’s Synonym Finder (a book no writer can be without) and begin to read.
I am looking for the word “Winter.” It isn’t here. Happily, I find “Wintry.” It leads me to delicious choices like hibernal. Hiemal. Brumal. Cold. Frigid. Freezing. Ice-cold. Shiveringly cold. Icy. Frosty, snowy, arctic, glacial or hyperboreal. Then on to Siberian, inclement, stormy, blizzardly, windy, bitter, nippy, sharp, piercing, biting, cutting, brisk, severe, rigorous, hard, and cruel.
Does this make you want to pick up your pen? Are you a writer like me, who loves lists of words? Who thinks it would be fun to create a character who actually uses the word “hyperboreal?”
If I read on, the book offers me some lovely dark words for a crime writer, particularly one who is writing during the dark months in a cold New England landscape. Here are some tasty words to sample over your morning coffee: bleak, desolate, stark, cheerless, gloomy, dismal, dreary, depressing, unpromising, somber, melancholy. How about dark, gray, overcast, sullen, or lowering? These words pretty well fit the woods behind my house, which are shades of brown and gray and have been since the leaves fell back in November.
When I go looking for “hibernal,” it isn’t there, but “hibernate” pops up at me, the perfect thing to during the month of January. Hibernate leads to: lie dormant, lie idle, lie fallow, stagnate, vegetate, and estivate. Perhaps more fitting, for those of us who find these winter months perfect for sitting at our desks and listening to the voices in our heads, there are these: withdraw, retire, seclude oneself, go into hiding, lie snug, lie close, hide out, hole up, sit tight.
I am pretty much holed up, lying snug, and secluded. But I love the almost song-like rhythm of:
Which leads me, since playing in dictionaries and Thesauruses is part of a writer’s fun, to the far more positive word: snug. Try these lovely words on for size: cozy, intimate, comfortable, easeful, restful, relaxing, quiet, peaceful, tranquil, serene, informal, casual, warm, friendly, inviting.
I am reminded of the snug in an English bar. Snug also suggests secret, private, covert, secluded, well-hidden, screened off.
So while you are reading this, I am secluded, screened off, and well-hidden at my desk, a space which is cozy, warm, and inviting. And once the screen is up and the manuscript is open, I shall turn my back on the hibernal, bleak, stark, cheerless landscape outside.
And probably proceed to kill someone, or at least put them in serious jeopardy.
What are you doing on this dark and somber day?
p.s. Evidence of my long-time fascination with words are these three sheets of paper, found while cleaning out a drawer this morning. They were efforts to expand the boys’ vocabularies.