“Calvin: Ha! I’ve got a great word and it’s on a Double word score box!
Hobbes: ZQFMGB isn’t a word! It doesn’t even have a vowel!
Calvin: It is so a word! It’s a worm found in New Guinea! Everyone knows that!”
~Calvin and Hobbes comic strip
I love Scrabble. A lot. In fact, I’m pretty sure that it’s the best game ever invented. What can be more fun than diving into all those tiles and using them to spell out a plethora of words? And if you play online – can we talk about how addicting that is? – you have the added bonus of learning new definitions, new meanings, and new phrases just about every time. For example, did you know that qat is a word? Qua? Zin? Za? Xi? Xu? See where I’m going here, with all the highest-rated letters? Ha. No matter whether you play on the computer or via the actual board game, though, the end result is the same: expanding your horizons, stretching your vocabulary, and getting to dabble in the intricacies of language.
As a writer, I of course rely on that language every day. No matter what I’m working on, I always want the perfect words to get my message across. Some days those words fly from head to hand faster than I can type. On others, I find myself staring out the window, watching the clouds tumble through the sky as I contemplate the exact phraseology I want to use. Honestly, there are times when I’m probably way too hard on myself about that. As a perfectionist, that’s just my nature, and when it comes down to it, we really are our own worst critic. It’s just that when I’m working on a book that I so clearly feel is a part of my heart, I want every bit – every single, solitary, most minute bit – to be the best it can be. A lot of the time, that comes from instinct. When I’m writing, I can feel it when something works. I can feel that sense of excitement bubbling inside my chest, rising through me until it just explodes in a starburst of adrenaline and inspiration. I crave those writing experiences. But can they happen each time I sit down to write? No. I don’t think that happens for any author. Writing is the most magical, uplifting journey, but it’s also work. It has nuances and complexities, and even though they can be frustrating sometimes, they push us further and strengthen us. They help us grow.
For me, that’s so important. I make it a personal goal for each new project to challenge me in some way. After all, if we linger at the status quo, we’ll never take steps forward. With my current manuscript, the challenge definitely comes via the format. Instead of writing it like a traditional book, it switches back and forth between a diary and journal style. I’ve done journal entries before – in fact, Reflections of Me has a few – but this is the first time I’ve tackled writing an entire book that way. It’s different, it’s exciting, and it’s a new adventure that I’m having such fun exploring. Does it mean extra work? Yes. Do I mind that? Not at all. The opposite, actually. I’m enjoying the process and savoring the opportunity to stretch myself further. The specifics of where this book will take me, where these characters I love so dearly will take me, aren’t all snapped into place yet. I have a general idea of how things will continue to progress, but as always happens, I feel myself almost taking a backseat to the characters as they lead the way. I love that, SO MUCH.
But back to Scrabble for a minute. How exciting is it when you get a triple word score? And if it includes one of those highly sought after ZQX combos, well, all the better. Then there’s the fantabulous (I figured making up words was clearly the way to go when talking about the game) occasion when you piece together a seven letter word. Fifty point bonus? Yes, please! What about in life, though? Maybe we can’t always get the highest scoring combination. Maybe luck doesn’t always give us that triple play. We can make our own luck, though. We can take what’s given to us and twist it, craft it, into the words blossoming inside us. We can speak our minds, write until our hearts are content, and remind ourselves that not everything has to be perfect. Not everything can be perfect. But if it’s right for us, if it tells the story that’s just bursting from our thoughts faster than our hands can type … well, doesn’t that make us the best kind of winner?
By the way, in case you were wondering, a QAT is an evergreen shrub and a ZIN is a dry, red wine. And my newest favorite? ZYZZYVA, of course. Who wouldn’t love a tropical weevil?