Archive for the ‘On writing the sequel’ Category

The Sound

October 15th, 2011

So I did a little research on the origin of the noun “sound.” I’ve always been curious why the bodies of water between the Outer Banks and the mainland of North Carolina were called “sounds.” Based on www.etymonline.com, the word derives from many sources, including Latin, Old English, Old French, Old Irish, Old  Norse, Sanskrit and Proto-Indo-European. The word looked similar in many languages: soun, son, sonus, swonos, swen, svanati, svanah. It basically was used to mean “noise” or “sound,” with interesting variations. In Old Irish, the word senim meant “the playing of an instrument.” In Old English, the word geswin meant “music, song,” swinsian meant “to sing,” and swan meant “swan” or “the sounding bird.” The Sanskrit word svanati meant “it sounds.” Note all of the “S” sounds–the best letter to indicate sound, perhapssss?

“Sound” can also be an adjective: I am of sound body and mind, for instance. For a cool bit of trivia, the post-sneezing interjection “gesundheit” comes from the German word gesund which means “healthy” and has origins in the Old English word gesund meaning “sound, safe, healthy.” I suppose we are telling the person who’s sneezing “be sound of body!” In other words, don’t get sick, or get me sick either.

Around 1300 Norse people starting using sund to mean “narrow channel of water” and “a strait, swimming.” It doesn’t seem much of a stretch to see how people meshed  “sounds” and “songs” with “bodies of water.” What makes a more delightful sound than bodies of water? Whether it’s crashing with force, rushing along the sides of a water craft, trickling along rocks and marsh grasses, or cascading down mountains, water sounds wonderful to our human ears. It is nature’s “song,” the earth’s “instrument.” It makes us feel “sound” in our bodies and souls.

I understand now. THE SOUND indeed. Have you ever seen the sun set over an Outer Banks sound? I can recall one such sunset from the window of Aqua Restaurant in Duck. Over a delicious meal and good bottle of wine, my husband and I watched as the sun slowly made its way into the lavendar clouds and waters of the western Currituck Sound.  If you are in the right frame of mind, you feel that such events are happening just for you, that the world is just that lovely and kind of a place. Usually, when I’m in that sound frame of mind, I am somewhere near water. Go figure!

I imagine that in the future, whenever I write “Albemarle Sound” or “Roanoke Sound” or “Pamlico Sound,” I’ll be thinking of the world’s people who’ve come before me, who’ve appreciated water and its sounds just as much as I do now.  Who knew word origin study could be so interesting?


Falling asleep

October 14th, 2011

I am wide awake this morning. As I was last night, trying to fall asleep. Ideas for dialogue, plot development, even a short story (I never write short stories!) kept popping up like little literary jack-in-the-boxes in my mind, and I kept turning onthe bedside table lamp, dragging my notebook out and scribbling down what I thought my unconscious meant. It seems my brain works best creatively when the lights are off and I’m on my back with my eyes closed. Perhaps I’ll try this at my computer desk, to pull a little trick on my brain–shut the blinds, turn the lights off, lie on the sofa and pretend to go to sleep.  Something tells me, however, that my brain wasn’t born yesterday, that it won’t be so easily duped. That it will keep putting out its best work when I really should be sleeping.

The key ingredient for my writerly waking nightmares is wine, I think. I always have a glass at night with my husband. Well, okay, a glass and a half. Our pours are big. And when I settle down for the night, my brain–juiced on wine–is still partying. This is my brain (picture a grassy area, blue sky, maybe a bird singing), and this is my brain on wine (picture a sleep-deprived toddler’s pony-ride, bouncy, puppet show-juggler birthday party on that same grassy area, lightening and thunder and perhaps a hail storm thrown in for good measure). In the mornings, I read what I wrote down as I was trying to fall asleep, and am horrified (if I can read what I wrote, that is) at the level of sappiness I have managed to conjure. I can recall thinking as I wrote down the ideas that I’d never before come up with something so profound, so tear-jerking, so downright poetically beautiful. That I would be  showered with accolades, maybe even win prizes and awards! I’m still not sure how a writer has to go about getting one of those prestigious awards…but if there IS an award for stupid sappiness, my nighttime writing should win it.

Every once in a while, I do come up with something semi-usable. For instance, the other night I thought I should research the origin of the word “sound.” On the Outer Banks, there are several such “sounds,” and my characters are constantly traveling across them in skiffs and rowboats. I recall that when I was little, I didn’t understand what my parents meant when they referred to “the sound.” It seemed highly mysterious. THE SOUND. The sound of what, exactly? If anything should be called “the sound,” it should have been the ocean, for it’s much noisier than the other bodies of water. So I think I’ll research it’s origins and usage, to better understand these bodies of water and their meanings in my books. I’ll keep you posted!