What’s in a Word

I’ve been thinking a lot about language.  This is nothing new.  Having been a writer since the third grade, as evidenced by the four-page position papers handed to my parents when they said ‘no’,  to diary entries worthy of a Pulitzer (Dear Diary, why doesn’t Richard Frankel like me as much as I like him?) to truly, painfully bad poetry in high school, once again centered on my parents incomprehensible rules or Jeff or Rich or Ben or Mitch who inexplicably did not return my affections, and finally, to embarrassing entries for major prizes (Hopwood) or publications (The Writer), it’s no wonder that finding the right word sometimes unfolds for me as a religious quest or at the very least, perfectionistic obsession.  The right word makes the sentence flow as music, with just the right cadence and a lilt and flow of emotion, be it poignant, joyful, or somber.  A simple preposition can make the sentence sing or fall flat. Mark Twain wrote, ‘the difference between the right word and the almostright word is the difference between lightening and lightening bug.’  I rest my case. If you can quote Twain, you win. When my kids were little and got a scraped knee, [...]