Becoming Bethany

Observations on becoming and being

Category: words

Seasonal Writer’s Block?

I have been terrible about keeping up with this blog lately.  I have started two or three different posts that are just languishing in my draft box.  I attribute that to a variety of reasons.  I have also been terrible about writing at all lately.  I attribute that to fewer reasons: busy-ness, lots of life happening, and just plain old laziness.  I will be the first to admit that sometimes I just get lazy about writing.  I get out of a routine or writing or I don’t have classes requiring me to write and before I know it, I haven’t written a page in weeks (or sometimes months)!  There is something else though that I am just now realizing.  I almost never write in the summer.

summer

I read in the summer.  Sometimes during the summer I read shelves of books.  But I hardly ever write.  Oh, I may turn out a poem or two, maybe even start a short story, but nothing serious or that ever really comes to anything.  I started to realize this yesterday when I walked home in the rain and came up with two or three separate short story ideas in the space of forty minutes.  I fully realized it this morning as I walked to the bus and noticed the cooler air and autumn light of September.  Something in my mind is stirring and something in my heart is beating harder and I want to write.

Now I’m trying to figure out why I never write in the summer.  Is it something I trained myself to do after years of school?  I write so much during the school year that I want the summer to rest?  Or maybe because I have a freer schedule my writing just gets neglected?  Is it related to the warmer weather?  Does the heat dampen my feelings of creativity?  Whatever the reason, I need to take steps to keep writing creatively even when I’m not feeling creativity.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the renewed creativity and really looking forward to autumn words.

Hymns as poetry

I have recently been reminded of a form of poetry that we recite on a mostly weekly basis.  Hymns.  This is a hymn I have been thinking about a lot lately and trying to interpret in the same way that I read poetry.

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.

Pretty things

I am writing a paper right now (literally.  My Word document is minimized on my screen as I type this).  I have this problem with writing papers.  I LOVE the research part of papers.  I like reading, and thinking, and reading some more, and collecting ideas from various sources, and deciding which viewpoints I agree with, and interupting my roommates with my latest epiphanies, and then reading some more.  Yes, I like research.  But after the research, I have to actually write the paper.  This is the part that I find boring.  I have already decided what I think about the topic and quite honestly, most of the time I don’t really care about persuading anyone else of my opinion.  But there is no way for professors to grade me on my thoughts unless I write them down.

So right now I am writing a paper.  I can only stare and the black and white screen for so long before I get bored of the sight of it.  So I have to take a break to look at something a little lovelier.  Usually this means I stand up and go outside to look at clouds or at least glance out my window at a tree or something.  However, sometimes an outside view is not easily accesible so I have to find some other pretty thing to look at.

Lately I have discovered that my favorite store has an online catalog.   I discovered this over the summer when the theme for their catalog was a Middle Eastern market.  I have an appreciation for pretty things and for the Middle East so when they stuck them both in the same place I was very appreciative.  What in the world does this have to do with writing papers?  Well, at the moment instead of writing my paper I am looking at this.  Trains AND pretty clothes!  I have this weird affinity for trains.  One of my dream trips is to take The Orient Express along its historic route.  And beautiful coats!  I really like a nice coat.

train-coat

Okay,  that’s enough of a break and enough of sighing over pretty things.  Time to go back to the paper.

P.S. I apologize to those male readers who may have found this post a little boring.  I will not talk about clothes often.  Just pretty clothes, and mostly just because they’re pretty.

Words

This was the final paper for my Literature: Autobiography class this semester. It is written according to the guidelines of the “This I Believe” project.

I believe in words.

My mother tells me that when I first learned how to talk I would only say the end of words. Watermelon became “lon-lon”. Maybe this has to do with the fact that I was an American child learning to speak English in Jamaica. Rather than choose the American or Jamaican pronunciation, I made up my own way. My father also tells me a story about when I was first learning to use words. I was two years old and playing with some little boys of the same age. My father was watching us in the front yard when a red car parked in front of our house. My little friends and I were very amused. The little boys started making car sounds–“brrrrrmmmm”, “beep-beep”. I stood beside them saying things like “look, it’s a car”, “pretty car”.
I was four years old when I discovered that words can be given to others without actually saying them. Books. My favorite book was about a wig on a pig. There was another book about a boy flying a kite. The book had a line that went something like, “I fly a kite.” I read it aloud as, “He flies a kite.” My teacher kept insisting that I was reading it wrong. I kept insisting that the story wasn’t about me so of course I wasn’t flying the kite. The first time that I wrote my own story (which was about a ladybug) I was amazed by the fact that other people would read it and know just what I was saying. Words on a page took on an almost magical quality. Books became my portal to other worlds.
I was eleven years old when I tried to speak using words different from my own. It was so extraordinary when “naan” started connoting “bread” to me. I have since studied three other languages and each time I begin to recognize the meaning of a word, I get a chill. How do foreign sounds suddenly import deep meaning to me? It is the magic of words that I can (with practice) communicate with a person whose every word used to be strange to me.
Now, in college, I have dedicated four years to studying words. They have become no less mysterious to me, but all the more powerful. I have come across sayings like, “The pen is mightier than the sword.” And “Your words are like honey on my lips.” And “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us”. How can words fight, taste sweet, and live? I think it is because words are shared among people, but at the same time live a life of their own. Think about it, long after an author dies, his words continue to affect us. It is another magic of words—they can live forever.