Friday, 30 August 2013

The power of (long, silly) words - Lari Don

I’ve just moved house. I'm sure any other writers who work from home and have suffered through a house move will agree that it can be extraordinarily disruptive. But I’m not going to moan at you. Instead I’m going to be cheerful about the power of words and the loveliness of librarians.

I had to send a lot of emails over the summer apologising in advance (or even worse, after the fact) for being inefficient, hard to contact and easily confused, all of them using the explanation / excuse that I was in the midst of moving house.

I had a variety of responses. A frequent response was: “Oh, how exciting!” (Em, no. Not exciting. Tiring, expensive, irritating, destructive of any creative impulse …)

But my favourite response was from the lovely librarian who said she completely understood that I would be hard to pin down for a few weeks, and that I might not be sending the most coherent emails for a while, because (and I quote her email):

                 “…moving house is superbusystressmonkey!” 

I laughed out loud at her word, and I nodded, and I printed the phrase out, and I stuck it to my wall (both walls actually, old study and new study) and her word MADE ME FEEL BETTER.

‘Superbusystressmonkey’ is the perfect word for the feeling of moving house. It acknowledges the chaos, but punctures it with humour. It recognises the panicked lack of control, but by trapping that panic in a word, it gives you back a little bit of control.
A superbusystressmonkey climbing a wall of boxes

It may have been a throwaway line from a supportive person, but that word ‘superbusystressmonkey’ actually made the whole house move easier for me, because I had a word for it, a word which made me smile. 

Which made me realise just how important words are. The right words. Words that acknowledge something difficult, that allow you to articulate how you feel, and therefore give you a feeling of control over the problem.

Words can make you feel better.

I don’t know (though I suppose I could ask) whether the lovely librarian made up ‘superbusystressmonkey’ on the spot, or whether she (like any good librarian) knew exactly where to find the right word when she needed it. But it was a new word to me, and I’m sure I will find it very useful in the future.

Now I’m almost settled, I can take ‘superbusystressmonkey’ off my wall, and put up a calmer and more creative new word instead. ‘Superfocusseddeadlinetiger’ perhaps?

Lari Don is the award-winning author of almost twenty books for all ages, including fantasy novels for 8 – 12s, picture books, retellings of traditional tales and novellas for reluctant readers. And she hopes never to move house again!

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1 comment:

Joan Lennon said...

I'm keeping "stressmonkey" - thanks to you and your lovely librarian for such a great word. And congratulations on living through the move!