"Swearing was invented as a compromise
between running away and fighting."

-- Peter Finley Dunne

I was not raised in a manner that allowed me to become accustomed either to saying or hearing those kinds of ...ahem....words, but it's amazing how quickly they still manage to spring from my mouth sometimes with even the slightest provocation.

A day or two ago, I spent the afternoon hanging shelves in Hannah's room -- actually, I think attempting to hang shelves would be a more accurate description, although they are still clinging to the wall through some kind of amazing grace -- and found the wall to be so wavy that I actually wondered if someone had spiked my diet Coke.

It was quite a fight. The funky wall made the otherwise brilliant design of the flush-mounting hardware almost completely useless, and therefore ingenuity was required....as well as some strong language.

By about the third time something undesirable/unexpected had popped out, Hannah and I were both laughing  hard and she decided to contribute a few expletives of her own.  While perhaps not the ideal mother/daughter bonding moment, it was memorable nonetheless. But it made me wonder why someone who loves language with an absolute burning passion would resort to words of the meanest sort when confronted with nothing more menacing than a wavy piece of drywall...

"Language is the dress of thought."

-- Samuel Johnson

When I started writing, as a child, everything was written longhand.  I still have boxes of those childish manuscripts.  It was difficult for my pen to keep up with my thoughts, and frustrating trying to chase the strings of words that ran through my mind and get them down before they disappeared from sight.

When I learned to type in high school, it was a huge leap forward.  Even though it was on a manual typewriter with a touch so stiff that I hardly had the hand strength to operate it, I suddenly felt I had a much wider net with which to pursue my ideas.

And one of the most exciting days I can remember was purchasing our first electric typewriter -- it was a transformational moment, and led me to attempt writing a novel -- one of the worst pieces of fiction ever committed to paper.  

(I have not yet been able to bring myself to destroy the manuscript, but I do admit to sometimes secretly hoping for a house fire, lest someone find it after I die and decide they'd like a good laugh.)

Now technology continues to woo me 
and enable my affair with all-things-words . . .

I had an absolutely marvelous time compiling 
a little book of poetry for Christmas gifts this year:

I'd heard about the wonders of blurb, but had been too something to try my hand at producing a book.  But -- wow!  Forget electric typewriters!  The immediate gratification of being able to publish your own book with so little effort is a heady thing indeed for someone engaged in a lifelong love affair with writing.  I've discovered a dangerous new drug . . .

If you have not tried it, let me be the pusher that gets you hooked!  (and I think I only swore once while trying to figure out the software -- so easy a Susan can do it)

If you were on my gift list this year, do not fear!  I promise not to give you something I've written every holiday for the rest of our lives.  BUT -- I do not promise I will not now have the writing career I have always dreamed of, even if only in my own mind and/or bookcase.

I feel I have a potentially powerful
new set of wings
sitting on my finger
and waiting to be released . . .

best feeling I've had
since the day I first laid my fingers
on my new electric typewriter.


Serenade No. 19, Susan M. Hinckley. 2008

"Language is a skin:
I rub my language against the other.
It is as if I had words instead of fingers,
or fingers at the tips of my words.
My language trembles with desire."

-- Roland Barthes

(Seriously . . . what the @&#% will they think of next?!)



Leenie said...

@&#%!!! I think the whole kitchen is on fire! Oh, yeah, that was Sunday. I know those moments. After one of those words popped out of my mouth during a frustrating moment but in the company of two young men in suits and ties I SWORE I'd break myself of that one. But still the words lurk.

What would it take, how much would it cost me to get a copy of that book of original Susan Poetry? WANT! I'll trade you copy of "The Three Pigs and the Four Bad Wolves" written and illustrated by Leenie. Pleeeeeze.

susan m hinckley said...

hahahahaha! -- I love you, Leenie. Not in a weird way, but more like a "there is no one I'd rather have lunch with" way... I'll gladly accept any trade you offer.

Allie said...

Oh how I remember those longhand days!!! I wrote poetry in those days...BAD poetry...that my cousin, a patent attorney, loved so much that she paid for the copyright and it nows languishes in the Library of Congress somewhere. Let's hope it never sees the light of day.

I cracked up over you and Hannah putting up the shelves. My grandfather was a champion cusser and fisherman, [I think the two go hand-in-hand] and I was a truck driver in the Army...some of those words pop out at the most inopportune times. EEK. Love that first quote. When I first had kids, and they quoted something [bad] their father had said, I vowed to stop forever. It lasted until I stubbed my toe the same day. I remember reading a quote that said "Profanity is the feeble attempt of an illiterate mind to express itself forcefully". Wish I could remember who said it!

Blurb - love the whole idea - your book looks awesome!

Amelia Poll said...

Haha, what a wonderful mother, daughter bonding moment :) I would've loved to have been around for it! Not to mention that, frustrating shelves not withstanding, her wall looks absolutely fabulous. I wouldn't expect anything else from her, but really... It is super cool.

I find that words like that slip out at the most inopportune, albeit frustrating times. It is a little ridiculous how easily they jump to the forefront of my mind whenever I'm particularly upset. I have to really watch myself with a little one who is tying to mimic everything we say now...

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