Wednesday, January 21, 2009

luteous and susurrous

Luteous and susurrous. These are two words that have found their way into my w.i.p. I love them. They are words you can almost taste. Does it ever happen to you when you are toying with a sentence in your head, thinking up the best way to describe something -- an eye color, the sound of an otherworldly language -- that a word will pop into your mind? A word like "luteous" you're not sure is even a real word, let alone a word that means what you hope it means? But then you look it up and it is and does -- it is just perfect? That happens to me all the time, and makes me marvel at the strange furls of memory, all the things that are folded away, like, I don't know, like heirloom china in a box in the garage. You haven't seen it in years but suddenly the pattern pops into your head.

Funny.

In other vocabulary "news," I [heart] google. Everyday I say to myself a dozen times at least, "I [heart] google." What can't you find? I wanted to describe something as looking like a sheep, but I didn't know if there was a single word for it, the way there's "bovine" for cows or "feline" for cats, etc. Well, of course there is, and it's "ovine." Cool.

[You see, when all I am doing is writing, my world. . . it shrinks to this, to luteous and susurrous and ovine. That and Jim and Leroy and what's for dinner. Which tonight, was pancakes, because. . . why not, really?]

Oh, and I just read this interesting piece by Sarah Zarr about writers' themes, the things we don't realize are our themes until we've written several books and suddenly discover that there are common elements to them all. It was interesting to read, because I have begun to detect certain things that keep wanting to come up in my stories. Outsider-ness. Sacrifice. Vast depth of backstory -- vaaaast, like, millenia of mythic history that has profound relevance to the "now" of the story -- I guess that's the Tolkien reverence in me. Secret identities, including: a character's own identity being a mystery to him or herself. And other stuff. Do you think it means that I have an identity that is secret even to myself, and that there is a long-forgotten mythic history I am supposed to uncover?

Maybe. You never know.

7 comments:

Alysa said...

"Do you think it means that I have an identity that is secret even to myself, and that there is a long-forgotten mythic history I am supposed to uncover?"

I do, Laini. I do.

myrna said...

Tolkien was amazing, and some words are just perfect and altogether yummy.

I agree with Alysa about the identity thing.

Laini Taylor said...

Yes, you're probably right, Alysa and Myrna. I should be in secret-identity therapy, maybe. Kind of like past-life regression therapy, for people who read too many fantasy novels? And just like with reincarnation, no one was ever just a normal person, right? My secret-even-to-myself identity is not that I am a scullery maid in a fairy king's palace, but that I am a The Warrior Who Will Save Everyone From Certain Dooooom!!!

(I'm a little tired right now.)

S R Wood said...

The great thing about bovine and ovine is that they naturally lead to porcine ... a word which I have yet to deploy in a non-insulting manner!

And I admit that until I googled it, I thought "luteous" referred to the ethereal quality of lute music -- mixing in beauteous. (Beautious? I can't remember how to spell it and now nothing looks right. Beautyious?)

By the way, for a fun time-waster, I mean research, check out www.etymonline.com. Lots of information on word origins and archaic precedents.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that your favorite person in all of Portland specializes in past life regression? You should make an appointment on the speedio.

myrna said...

S R Wood

If you want to see "porcine" employed in a non-insulting manner, check out the "Mercy Watson" series by Kate DiCamillo. Mercy Watson is a "porcine wonder." Just thinking about it makes me want to laugh!

Heather said...

Well I knew of "luteal", but not "luteous".

I also [heart] Google and also Dictionary.com!