Cauldron

Cauldron: (n) a situation characterized by instability and strong emotions.

Putting together sentences, or even the art of making sense, is not the most difficult thing about writing. Also not writer’s block, unless you get too silly about constructing the perfect paragraph.

Actually the most difficult matter is making sure that your writing hasn’t “aged out.” In other words, do people know what the hell you’re talking about?

It happened to me several weeks ago when I was working on a passage in a novel, and decided to insert the word “cauldron”–as referring to a problem that was simmering inside my plot, without people knowing how dangerous it truly was.

The dear lady who does my typing stopped and looked at me with a quizzical face and asked, “Cauldron?”

She does this from time to time. It’s her way of saying I’ve come up with some obscure word that no one will understand and therefore they will assume that my awareness of pop culture ceased somewhere between Charles Dickens and Mark Twain.

It raises the question, when are we being sensitive to the market and when are we joining into the universal “dumbing down” of our society?

Is it too much to ask a reader to look up a word or search for context clues? Are we a generation that is just going to squint and opine, “I don’t know that word…”

Some words should die. Maybe they represented something evil or there’s a better replacement for them in today’s language.

But sometimes a word needs to be toted from the Conestoga wagon, onto the bicycle, into the Model T Ford, placed carefully on the airplane and finally situated safely in the rocket to outer space.

 

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About

by J. R. Practix

dictionary with letter A

About: (prep.) on the subject of; concerning.

Finally–a word I can write about that doesn’t tell me what to write about, but instead, allows me the about on which I wish to write.

Since I was a kid I’ve been given topics. Subjects–things that I’m supposed to think about, do or construct a paragraph to explain. It’s limiting!

But now, today, because of the courtesy of the word “about,” I could write ANYTHING on this paper and make a case that I was merely elaborating on the subject to explain the word “about.”

I feel empowered.

I feel completely in control of my own destiny from an artistic sense–not bound by tradition, complication or compulsion–unless you want to consider the compulsion that I might have–to focus “about” something…

It’s a great question: “What is this about?”

You can answer almost anything, since the person asking obviously has no clue. Your response is as good as any.

Matter of fact, the other day I tried it. Somebody was speaking to a friend in line at a restaurant and said, “What do you think all this debate concerning the budget is about?”

There was a brief pause, wherein I leaped through the silence, into the conversation and replied, “Guilt over genocide of the Indians.”

I then turned my back and resumed a dialogue with a nearby friend.

Neither one of the people who had been engaged in this discussion concerning the budget exactly knew what to do. After all, they didn’t know what it was about, therefore leaving themselves wide open for a tangential interpretation. What I succeeded in doing was stifling their involvement. They changed the subject and moved on.

So, since I could write about anything today, what I’ve decided to discuss…

Wait a second. They’re telling me my time is up. I’ve already used too many words.

Shoot. Another blown opportunity. Well, let me sum it up.

Can anybody explain to me why frog legs which have been fried taste a little bit like mush until you put salt on them, and then all they taste like is salt?

Thank you for your time.