The New Words

Sometimes the New Words are the best words. Sometimes the New Words are the worst words. Sometimes, you just need to write the New Words and you need to write them fast. This is one of those times.

If I’m doing it right, the New Words won’t even come clearly into focus as my fingers fly across the keyboard. I’ll make mistakes. Mistakes in grammar. Mistakes in spelling. I’ll make mistakes in judgement and totally break every rule. I won’t give a damn, because these are the New Words and the New Words demand to be written regardless of whether they fit or are beautiful or sensitive or funny or any other adjective you care to throw in their direction.

The New Words don’t wait politely for the writer to put them down in cautious order. The New Words don’t wait to be edited. They don’t wait to be censored. The New Words have things to do and there is no time to wait. The New Words are in no uncertain terms without an agenda except for their deep and powerful need to be written.

The New Words are to be feared.

Every writer has two days they fear more than any other: the day the words refuse to come and the day the words refuse to be stopped. I’ve been through both.

The day the words stop is frightening at first and then it is somehow comforting. It is as if the proverbial weight has been lifted and you are free to be someone other that a writer. You are free to have conversations without secretly recording every word or gesture for future use. You are free to move through life without looking for the hidden plot structures that run through our society. You peer into dark alleys and see garbage instead of goblins. You go into the forest and you only see the dead leaves instead of the hidden graves of the dead.

This is only a temporary state because the day the words refuse to stop is lurking out there. The day is coming when everything suddenly bursts forth as a story and it’s all nothing but New Words flowing over you and crushing everything you thought you suddenly found important. The New Words make a misery of your Anything-But-Writing life and demand every last minute from you. The New Words make you tap your pencil incessantly. The New Words make you impatient for the lights to change. They make you want to stand up and scream at the top of of your lungs for everyone to just shut the hell up because you’ve got some damn important things to put down on paper and you can’t have all these minds and words and lives intruding on the stream of the addictive and painful New Words.

This is the day every writer fears even when they don’t realize they should be scared. This is the day when you go into work and immediately leave. This the day you might never come home. This is the day that you know will end at some point but that you hope never does. This is the day the New Words remind you of the elemental force that you can employ when sufficiently jacked up on sleep and caffeine and the creative desire that pours off of your mind in sheets of white hot prose.

This is the day of the New Words and it will eventually end. When it ends, you have to return to the hard work of writing every day. You have to remind yourself why it is you do what you do… Why you get up early enough to be yesterday or stay up late enough to be tomorrow. Why your hands hurt but you keep on typing. Why you can’t stop hearing every word that everyone says. This is why you do what you do — you do it for the words, those beautiful and precious and deadly New Words.

I’m not going to bore you with tales of what I have and haven’t done. I’m not going to justify the maybes and the if-onlys with a brief sentence of hope or conciliation. I’m not going to accept the halfness of pretending to write while only continuing to foster the moments of half-baked dreams…

I’m just going to write the New Words and show up again tomorrow to see what happens.

2 thoughts on “The New Words

  1. Wow, Jamie, you’ve truly summed up the dark void of what being a writer, in the state of writing, can be like. The feeling of urgency, words stumbling from your hands whether you’re typing or writing long-hand, they never seem able to catch up with your mind! I’m happy you’ve found peace in not writing, for me it seems the opposite, when I can’t write, when the words don’t come, it feels like there is an immense pressure building up behind my eyes and weighing down on my shoulders. I *live* for the days that the words come unheeded and unhindered by such awful modern contrivances as “spell checker,” some days you just have to pull out a pen and pad and let ‘er rip.

  2. I thought you were going to talk about word coining, or neologisms, which is an extremely unique writing topic. Way to lure me into your article based on a misconception! It is good though, very creative way to discuss the writing process from day to day.

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