Words are a part of my identity. Even when I get them wrong.

I self-identified as a novelist today– for kinda the first time, and it was totally natural.

I’ve bemoaned before that I’m a compulsive explainer, seeing it as a character defect: why do I have to explain/justify my existence/choices?

Well, it turns out I’m just assuming others are as shallow as me.  That is,  I’ve been shown I revise my opinion of someone based on increased information, and by giving more information I’m hoping to project a more accurate image of myself.

If they still don’t like me, I don’t care, but I can’t stand someone being mad at what they think I am/have done.

So I ran into this woman I haven’t spoken with in years, and we did a quick catch-up on kids, ages and church.  And I corrected her “Oh yeah, I know where that is,” before I even asked her what she thought she knew.

You see, no one in our town knows what church I go to unless they have personally visited it.  It’s that invisible.

I was right, but that’s small consolation if it destroys a relationship so I jumped into damage-control, blaming it, very naturally on being a writer. (For the record, she was totally cool with being corrected.  Not offended at all.)

What entertained me so much was my explanation (this is part of why I write: it’s insanely easy for me to entertain myself).

It went something like this:

Sorry, I’m not really trying to be rude, but after years of thinking in terms of conveyed information versus received information I’m constantly thinking on multiple levels of communication. Miscommunication is a useful literary device, but nothing to tolerate in real life.

Not that I always have a choice, but we can set our own standards, right?


I am calling my 2010 NaNoWriMo effort Shaddow.

Yeah, with 2ds.  It’s a nod to when I was starting the first version of this book (Shadow Swan) and was trying to track down the novel Shadow Spinner and could not figure out why the book never showed on any search.

Yeah, because I spelled shadow phonetically. That’s a short-a, folks.

Sort of like the counter intuitive desert/dessert weirdness.  I love English.  I really do.

Notwithstanding the one semester I started German and a guy studying Spanish asked in horror, “Why would you do that? It’s, like, the one language in the world uglier than English!”

In the end I’ve simply returned to English, and find it beautiful.  Not the least because I understand it, and it submits to me.


Along those lines, it’s fun to say I’ve built a bit of a reputation in my church.

This was a rough week for me.  I came to church thinking about genuineness, and how what some people disparage as “masks” might more accurately be communicated as an effort to encourage other people or focus less on oneself.

I knew I was going to be asked how I was, and that I wouldn’t lie, but I hated thinking of the exchanges that would be likely to follow.  So mostly I positioned myself where the flow-pattern kept people moving faster than to expect a detailed answer.

One of the neatest things about these people is that they only rarely ask empty how-are-yous.  In that place I stood I got lots of acknowledging smiles and nods, but nobody pretended to inquire after what couldn’t be answered in the space of 18-inches.

By the end of the sermon I’d forgotten my initial goal, and got cornered in the kitchen while making my double hot chocolate.

One of the best smilers in our congregation walked in as I was stirring cocoa and asked a genuine, How are you today, Amy?

I felt my throat close and my chin wobble before I got out my one word.


And that resulted in a spirit- and esteem-soothing glowfest from the two other women about how I always have the perfect words to say exactly the right thing.  And the sweet smiler asked, “Can wonkies appreciate hugs?” and I gratefully accepted the other best form of love and care she could have offered at that moment.

2 thoughts on “Words are a part of my identity. Even when I get them wrong.

  1. I self-identified as a marathoner several months before the actual race.

    I was checking out at Wal-Mart and buying BOXES of Snickers Marathon brand and other protein bars. “Those all for you?” the checker asked.

    “Yes, I’m a marathoner,” I said.

    I surprised myself and spent far too much time after determining if I had lied to the guy or not.

    I WAS a half-marathoner twice over, and I was *training* for a marathon, and I knew I would finish the race…so in my head I was one, but I’m still not sure if that counts, since I hadn’t actually logged the race miles yet.

    Can you tell my preciseness is still bothering me? : )

    Also, your friend is wrong. Dutch is a much, much uglier language than either English or German. Interestingly, all three languages are based on Old German. So maybe that’s the ugliest?

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