A Word Orgy That Works

Madeleine L’Engle toppled all my excuses for not writing.  In the early 1990s, I read the first chapter of  her book, “Two-Part Invention”.  I learned she was married, she was spiritual and she had to fight for privacy.  I flipped back to look at her list of published works.  Dozens of titles, in two columns, chided me.

How did she manage to be so prolific in the middle of all that life?

I was in the throes of a new, high-maintenance partnership.  I longed to share spiritual insights that continuously surfaced, but I believed my spiritual seasonings were only predicated on other people’s theories.  I ignored spiritual messages bubbling from a wellspring of invisibility.   Privacy seemed impossible with a career involving constant travel to temporary locations.   When I was home, the relationship absorbed my time and energy.

Yet Madeleine L’Engle wrote.

A new excuse was born:  if I shared what I wrote, my lack of literary acumen would hang out all over.  I would be edited, criticized, corrected, laughed at, harangued and put to pasture.

A perfect phrase, so fragile, so delicate and so fine-tuned, would be mangled over an inappropriate piece of punctuation.

Madeleine L’Engle, however, spoke through my inner clatter.  She detonated that fresh fear with three piercing and precise phrases that hit my memory bin, scattered, and continue with indelible freshness today.  My writing needs to be:

Clear as glass.

Clean as bone.

Smooth as stone.

Madeleine died in September of 2007, but only physically.  I’ve applied for her spiritual and literary mentorship.  When I can write with all three mantras clearly, cleanly and smoothly, I will know she accepted.  Meanwhile, she may be waiting for me at this orgy.

Orgy?

Yes.  It’s even free.

Take a peek at Stephen Fry:*

*(Dave French:  Thank you for sharing this video.  You titillate with such eclectic and ever-amazing tastes in culture!)

49 thoughts on “A Word Orgy That Works

  1. I love that Stephen Fry video. I shared it with Daryl (the WP Grammar Nazi) recently. He loved it too.

    It is:
    Clear as glass.
    Clean as bone.
    Smooth as stone.

    And FUN to watch.

    • Glad you enjoyed it, too. I got a big kick out of it.

      Hey, Kath, you are back to the full personal name and no sign of your blog link. I’ve fixed it, but looks like you need to fix it again.

  2. I only know Madeleine L’Engle’s “Wrinkle In Time” books. Interesting to hear she was so prolific. I hope you get her mentorship!

    I also loved Stephen Fry video. I’ve got to watch it again tomorrow when I’m not tired.

  3. Hi Amy .. wonderful mantras to write by .. clear as glass, clean as bone, smooth as stone .. extremely succinct. I haven’t come across Madeleine L’Engle .. but I shall read more of her through you.

    The video is great fun isn’t it .. Cheers Hilary

    • She wrote about writing and her trials around it which gave me a chance to see whether or not I could identify. Plus her writings on marriage provided a healthy portrayal of love! Cheers to you, Hilary.

  4. I feel this pain as well. So much of life gets in the way of my moments to spend in creative pursuits. I always feel like I’m fighting to regain my private turf and to balance my life so that I’m not a recluse, but I’m also out in the world. It’s a struggle.

    • You are so right, SDS. Balancing our socialization is very important. We’re so perfect when no one else is around! :D Seems that living alone ought to mean there’s tons of free time. When home, I find my radar is always on…like a parent, I suspect. I can decide to shut out the world – then will hear a loud noise from somewhere in the house, a toilet that is running or the timer going off. I’ve just figured out why I am in bliss in silence! Yet, I am startled when I suddenly realize I have been completely engrossed in my writing and have no idea if half the house caved in!

  5. Those three succinct pieces of advice about writing are so profound. I’ve never heard them before but won’t forget them. Thanks so much for sharing them.

    You have a new follower!

    • Welcome, Lorna. When I look out over my reader audience now, I’m going to see a new face with an impish grin that says, “Come on. I’m waiting. What ya got?” Look forward to having more time on yours – just enjoyed the post about google searches. Aren’t some a puzzle?

    • You are welcome, Charles. Hope you are working on your Aunt Bea book! I feel like giving you a big hug today so here’s one for ya. I’m off to do some ferry riding today.

  6. “Clear as glass. Clean as bone. Smooth as stone.” ~I love this! We were on the same page today. I wrote about courage/fear/creativity. I have had a bit of procrastination about picking up on something I had started and stalled out on….today’s words are what came to me when I spent some quiet time over it. My main problem is that I’ve let EggMan (my inner critic) overtake Walrus (my muse), but I’m learning to let Walrus have his fair chare of time…that darn EggMan has been such a brute!

    • Learning to be true to ourselves is a biggie. I sure feel it when I drop the ball. If I don’t write, I feel like the carbon is piling up and life gets too sluggish to ignore! Yes, I read your post about overcoming fear. I don’t know how many times I’ve used my mantra: Fear or faith.

      You’ve got such a beautiful soul, Suzicate, and it shows through in your writing. You know what? If we aren’t like other people, rejoice! :D

  7. S.D., how freeing to contemplate the notion that there “is no right and no wrong way to language.” But why, then, does it feel that my language is so wrong?

    Clear as glass, clean as bone, and smooth as stone…if only.

    • Someone let a critical voice take over. Your posts are great reading, RW – you have a way of writing about stuff that makes the reader say, “Yah, I have had this same experience.” Or feeling. Or let down…whatever. If everyone wrote the same, think how boring our world would be. Think about this: How on earth did James Joyce get away with “Ulysses”?! Shakespeare probably felt a little lonely at times! Just keep on writing.

    • Congrats! Bravo. That’s putting the fear where it belongs! The spare bed is all made up, Victoria. You are most welcome – especially if you like to cook. I love being able to cook with friends.

  8. Amy, the video was absouletly fascinating, actually it was mesmerizing. I didn’t realize till the end that the positioning of his words was spelling language. I kept wondering why he was always changing direcion for the words.I loved it. I hope you keep writing forever, things do not have to be be said with the most perfect words to be effective, someimes I think it is better if they are not.

    • Thanks, Dee, for your encouragement. Yes, wasn’t that a neat surprise at the end? There are places for the highly academic verbiage in all it’s perfection. But when it comes to wanting to feed the heart, it’s writing from the heart that we grab.

  9. Oh……very cool.
    Her.
    His.
    This!

    I’m gonna watch the video again and perhaps see if I can embed it onto himself’s desktop. LOLOL
    Seriously!
    ;-)

  10. Pingback: Permission Granted!! | "On Dragonfly Wings with Buttercup Tea"

    • Oh you sweet soul, Tigerbrite! I will have to respond appropriately – though it will be in a wee while. Many, many thanks – this is very much appreciated.! Yes, ‘in the Bardo’ is a tremendous place to be! :D

  11. Amy, I can’t figure out exactly what happened to my subscription to this site, but unfortunately, the way time has been moving for me lately, I just now realized that I haven’t gotten any posts from you lately. . .so I checked in today and found out you are still as busy and inspirational as ever!

    I apologize for my absence. I am remedying that situation forthwith!

    I have to make a quick comment (quick for me anyway) about Madeleine L’Engle. I fell in love with her when I was about 9 years old upon reading “A Wrinkle in Time” when it first came out – after winning the Newberry Award. Since that time I have read probably every word she has ever written for publication.

    She was such a lovely, gifted, and deeply spiritual woman, and her death still brings a tear to my eye – that there will be no more new writing from her! I still reread her work, though.

    She was very disciplined – something I long to be (but apparently not enough :lol: ) – and serves as a wonderful example to follow for all writers. Thank for the wonderful post. BTW, when my Hubs met her many years ago, they came to find out that they are distant cousins! So, I’m a cousin-in-law? :lol:

    • Oh, Paula, what a story! You are someone who understands my awe and delight in discovering her. Either you are very much younger than me or you were simply lucky to find out about her in your early life. I read “A Wrinkle in Time” as well, but oddly enough, I don’t have a copy of it. That means I cannot cheat and see when it was published. :)

      And so, now that I have this very important link with a cousin-in-law of one of my very favourite authors, I shall withdraw to bathe with exotic oils and luxuriate in fame! :D

  12. Ha ha! Finally a sane voice. Or three. It’s time to sleep, so I must thank you for the chuckle. There’s nothing like a chuckle before bedtime.

  13. clear as glass, clean as bone, smooth as stone…what a nice and effective recipe. Listened to Stephen Fry. He’s talking a lot of sense of course. Wonder why I felt uncomfortable at places though. Nothing to do with what he said , but sometimes he seemed to have the same kind of contempt for the hardcore pedantics who insist on the “propah” use of language as they have for those who are more concerned with the idea that they want to convey. Or is it just my feeling?

    • I suspect Stephen Fry was being a little dramatic to make his point. We know how wonderful it is to read good writing. And we know how hard it is to read writing that is full of grammatical errors and poor punctuation. It really becomes hard work. But I understand Mr. Fry likes to push buttons. He makes us think. Sadly, I know some people who are rabid readers, have a breadth of literary taste that dazzles and won’t write a word. Those are the people I would hope would overcome fear of making a mistake or being criticized.

    • Thank you, my Homie! You are the only person I know who takes photos of places that hold very fond memories. They’ve changed – become somewhat more civilized, but it’s still those incredible locations for me.

  14. That’s wonderful. I love her, but I didn’t read that. Thanks for sharing here.

    I was just on Fry’s site earlier today. He wrote the best piece I’ve yet to read on Steve Jobs.

    Glad you got past your block on writing or we wouldn’t be here right now! ;-)

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