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  • Jaga , thank you for suggesting this experiment. I too want to learn from all of you here on Cowbird, whose stories have moved me so deeply. Forgive me for not answering directly. I am only just starting to get comfortable with sharing my words and thoughts. I still have a long way to go before I am able to be anything but oblique, through a poem or, as here, through the point of view of a made-up character (who nevertheless shares my obsession with words). But perhaps that is an answer too, in a way...

    I can write. I can write. I can make stories out of anything. I carry my suede notebook with me everywhere – not for me the gaudy flowers or tinselly glitter of WH Smith – and I scribble in it all day long. A thought, a quote, a random person in the street catching my fancy or my eye. How I swoop, whir, flutter in like a vulture. To dissect, examine, pin down. I need no thesaurus, I carry all words with me always.

    Give me a word, any word, and I can find ten synonyms for it. ‘Brew’ coffee, for instance. How else to make that beverage? To boil, steep, percolate it? Or to hatch, concoct, scheme, plot, cook up or contrive some evil conspiracy?

    Give me another word and I can use it in ten different contexts. Or describe its origins in detail – some may say in ‘excruciating’ detail, but they would be wrong. For ‘excruciating’ derives from the Latin excruciare, or take down from the cross, so it’s a relief rather than a pain, it is the intense and exquisite freedom from agony. It certainly is anything but awkward, embarrassing or tedious, as people believe, those uncouth herds who use ‘excruciating’ in this way.

    I do not love words, no! I analyse them, I pour over them, I roll them about on my tongue, tease them out of my memory, linger over them with my pen as if I were undressing a coy lover. Sometimes, quite frequently in fact, I hate them, with their wriggly, slippery ways, their lack of precision and nuance, for daring to resist me and my art.
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