Monday, April 16, 2007

Bad company

I could not remember the word "accompany". I knew it existed but couldn't think what it was. It wasn't on the tip of my tongue. It felt like a hole, not like something just out of reach. Somehow it didn't, and still doesn't, feel right.

(Something accompanies something else when it goes with it but is different, complementary. But does heads accompany tails?)

Anyway, I took the idea of "companion piece" and sprinted off with it. Somehow, a companion piece seems more connected with its companion than an accompaniment. It might share a mood, a theme, an idea, or it might be the mirror image: the concerto for oboes and shoehorns to go with the concerto for shoehorns and oboes.

It's worrying though because editors are not supposed to stare dumbfounded at words, trying to figure out why they are wrong. They're supposed to strike out "companions" and put in "accompanies" without thinking. I rely on being able to do that reflexively. It's a bit scary to feel that age will rob me of my skills in this area, and leave me actually having to work at what I do.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Zen wrote, "It's a bit scary to feel that age will rob me of my skills in this area, and leave me actually having to work at what I do."

boots sez:

Age is one of those things with many potentially scary aspects. Recalling the word you want instantly, sometimes I wonder if age isn't doing us a favor when it reins us in that way.

I'm often unable to recall the exact word that I'm thinking of. Now, it could be advancing age (who knows when, or if, that shit will kick in) but I expect that it's simply the fact that because of the hours I keep I'm usually sleep-deprived.

It doesn't matter why really. I could have some bizarre disease that makes it difficult to recall one precise word out of thousands.

I think it's the thousands that's the problem. Never having been in your home I've no clue how it's organized if it is organized at all. Some people have so much shit in their homes that they can't find any of it. Minds seem to be like that, the more unintegrated shit you have floating around in the way, the harder it is to find any of it. I think "unintegrated" is the key word here, shit that doesn't have its own bin and is tossed onto the heap.

The point of it all may be different for an editor than for a simple writer. Sometimes when I can't find the word that I know is right there, it suggests to me that perhaps I'm overcomplexificating the issue. Do I really need the word I'm looking for, and why? Usually I find that I've been getting too damn writerly and need to come at the idea from a slightly different angle.

April 16, 2007 at 5:32 PM  

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