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Say … What?

Riva Pomerantz

Monday, March 07, 2011

I love words. Good thing, huh, me being a writer and all! When I sit down to write a piece, it’s fascinating to me how the words tumble out — sometimes softly, sometimes harshly, almost with a mind of their own. There’s a magic to words, especially when they describe the indescribable with such intensity and accuracy that the reader — and the writer — both intuit the exact intangible idea as though they could feel it with their fingertips.

But honestly, people, sometimes I can get carried away. Inexplicably I find myself impassioned by the luscious syllables. Craving to convey a message buried deep within my mind, I string the words together like jumbled gemstones. And although they glisten and I sigh at their beauty, eyes of other beholders blink in the glare.

Like this e-mail I received, from an editor I know and love, on a recent installment of my serialized story, “Charades”:

To be honest, this sounds like she’s high on something. It’s just too too. Gila is not this New Age-y, “listen to your inner voices” type of person. It’s fine if she has an epiphany; we need a way to move her out of the hole she’s crawled into. But if you can tone it down a bit, I think it will be far more believable.


I argued, I balked, I coaxed, I cried. But when a second editor had the same beef with the same sentence, I caved. I mean, what are the odds of two separate editors zeroing in on the exact same sentence out of a whole five pages of text to pick on?

Now aren’t you curious what the sentence was? Wouldn’t you like to behold the sty in the eye of my literary higher-ups? Relax, dear reader, far be it from me to deny you the pleasure of beholding the axed sentence in all its mesmerizing glory. For despite my editors’ protests, I think it reads so exquisitely, melodically, and evocatively, that it deserves to be showcased — if not in your magazine this week, then at least on your computer screen.

Ready? Here goes:

And then, in a frothing, bursting moment, time and space melted away and in their place came a strange peace, like the perfect silence of a radiant island haloed with blissful sun.

Ahhhh … I get chills reading it. But I have to admit — it is a bit over-the-top.

And at the end of the day, as the wordsmith slings a heavy satchel of nouns and verbs and adjectives across her back, slumped against the weight and clanging of the tools of trade, she sheds a tear for words cut down in the prime of their lives (sob! That adverb never made it past the first rewrite. Obliterated by the delete key in favor of a chintzy, shabby synonym. It was a good word — honest, courageous, solid. R.I.P.) even as she grudgingly acknowledges … it did make Gila sound a bit far-out.

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