When I was on my three cities in ten days whirlwind trip, sight seeing and snapping twenty pictures a minute—a snail’s pace by today’s standards—I was in a constant state of jaw-dropping, OH MY, can you believe how amazing, isn’t that great, how awesome, and often, awesome on it’s own. Lush and descriptive words expressing my wonderment did not roll off my tongue. I know. I still cringe thinking about it.
I’m not sure of the exact number of times I used that word, but If I were to calculate, I’d bet the ‘A’ word passed through my lips at least 783,431 times over the course of ten days. On some level, the writer in me registered my limited use of her vocabulary. At first, she was subdued in her reprimands.
“Tsk, tsk,” followed by, “you’re shaming yourself. Try acutely brilliant or even brilliance unfurled. Just stop using the ‘A’ word.”
I’d promise and then fall into a deep, zombie like sleep. Come morning, three hours shy of a full nights sleep, I’d stagger to the tea kettle, boil some water, and three minutes later, slurp steamy instant coffee. The instant sort reminds me of the over boiled, watery like brown substance served in roadside dinners with names like Lou’s Lounge, Ma’s Best, or Gus’ Drive and Dunk, and tastes a lot like two-day old dish water. An elixir it is not, but a fix for caffeine it is.
By the time I reached the bottom of the hotel issued miniature sized tea cup, my eyes were open and the internal monologue I had had with my writer self the previous night was fresh in my mind. I’d align myself with her and swear to stab myself with my Parker Starlight or any one of the colorful Sharpies if that word even thought about escaping.
Fifteen hours later, another 57,348 pictures, 4 maybe 5 miles walked (it always felt like 100), sights seen, conversations had, I’d crawl into bed.
“AWESOME! How is it you call yourself a writer if all you can say is awesome? Personally, I found the view from London Eye, nothing short of big band phenomenal. Extraordinarily Exceptional! Yes, I’d add the exclamation point. Even bloody brilliant is preferable to your SINGLE word of choice. What happened to your vocabulary? Did you leave it on the plane or perhaps in baggage claim? Awesome is so worn out, tired, even distasteful on the lips.”
The earplugs would go into my ears and the pillow went over my head. Not that I could block her out since she owns the right side of my brain, half of the heart, and in a hostile take over, took the soul of me. “Ok,” I’d mumble in my tiniest voice, and in seconds slip into a catatonic like stupor.
Day in day out, the nightly assaults grew in intensity as I failed miserably to break free of the word’s hold over me. I’d start the day with a killer like conviction to escape my one-word prison of description, but by the time my body melted into the mattress I’d have to plead exhaustion, sensory overload, mental fatigue, and then beg forgiveness for my breach of the writer’s code. Gone was the tsk tsking. Her annoyance had graduated to land mind hostility. I’d have to step gingerly. I accepted my lashes almost gladly, wondering like she, where my appreciation for the exceptional word choice had gone.
On the train ride back from Paris the second to last day of my trip, I pondered my plight. Would I return to the blank page with my limited lexicon, and fall to the mundane and usual intensifiers of single cell life form, such as: So great! Really nice. Totally cool, or worse, It was soooooo cool!!! (It’s not much, but on first sight, the Eiffel Tower is supremely spectacular!)
I vowed to eradicate the ‘A’ word from my vocabulary. Being the understanding taskmaster, vixen, Attila the Hun, she is, and knowing I am no good at going cold turkey, we struck an accord. She put me on an awesome diet. The ‘A’ word could remain provided I never use it my writing unless it’s used by a character with limited story exposure or said persona is severely flawed (see what I mean about her being a vixen) and I’m not to use the word more than 4 times a month.
How about you is there a word you over use, but wish you didn’t? Is there one that slips through your lips a full four seconds before you know it’s assaulted your listener? Share, come on, we’re all friends here.