Editing, Observations, revising

The beauty of words or the pulchritude of morphemes?

If you have not entered my “I love reading” giveaway, you can still do it :-): You can win 2 books (up to a total of $30): one for you and one for a teenager or a child or a baby you want to share your love of books with.The giveaway is open to all countries that The Book Depository ships to. Just fill out the entry form by Friday March 16th.

What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet

This famous quote by Shakespeare reminds me of two things 1) he didn’t use any big words, he could have said: “woody perennial of the genus Rosa” but he didn’t, 2) reading Shakespeare for a class at the university in the US was a lot of work for me (which involved using a dictionary very often).

As I go through the process of revising, I worry much more about little details which don’t cross my mind when I write.

Most of you know that English is not my mother tongue. French is. I used to write in French. I could show feelings in French, I could create metaphors easily, I could either use simple terms or play with the so-called “big” words. Since I lived in the US for so long, studied at the university mainly in English or German and now use English pretty much all day, I cannot do this any longer.

I write in English. It comes naturally to me and I love it.

However, I sometimes wonder: is my English good enough?

(for some reason, I just experienced a Zoolander flashback)

Stephen King explained in his book On Writing (by the way, thanks again Sara for organizing a discussion on this book in April 😀 You should join if you already read it or maybe are planning on reading it):

“One of the really bad things you can do to your writing is to dress up the vocabulary, looking for long words because you’re maybe a little bit ashamed of your short ones. This is like dressing up a household pet in evening clothes. The pet is embarrassed and the person who committed this act of premeditated cuteness should be even more embarrassed.”

This made me feel better somehow.

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy reading novels with big words. I know that the more I read, the more I learn. My vocabulary expands naturally but I cannot force big words into my work. It doesn’t feel right. So I will listen to Stephen King on this and promise to him (and mainly to myself) that no I will never say “John stopped long enough to perform an act of excretion” when I mean “John stopped long enough to take a shit”. (hmm yes I just used the word “shit” and yes it kind of feels weird to have that word on my blog :-)…).

Do you sometimes doubt your vocabulary or your grammar? Do you consciously use big words?