WFMAD Day 5 – Word geeking in community

The WFMAD 2009 Challenge is steaming ahead!

I am honored that this Challenge was featured in the NCTE Inbox Blog, along with a wonderful discussion about creating writing communities in the classroom. If you are a teacher, you definitely want to read this.

I’d like to send a shout-out, too, to the teachers who attended my speech at the SUNY Oswego Writing Institute on Monday. Welcome to the Forest!

This raises an interesting possibility for me. How many of you have online writing buddies? I’m not thinking of a critiquing partner, but someone who will help keep you honest about daily writing time. If you don’t have one, would you like one? Want me to help?

OK, now, to work!

I studied linguistics in college and am a very proud word geek. I ADORE the English language.  The language takes strength from the contributions of many languages, just like the US draws strength from the cultural diversity of our people.


Today’s advice:
Mix it up. Allow yourself to write things that are not part of your work in progress. All language play will strengthen your writing.


Today’s prompt: I’ve listed two obscure words below, along with some etymology and definition from the online Oxford English Dictionary. Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to write a riff on one or both words, or figure out a way to incorporate whatever you’re writing.

TO SHIVE: "[f. SHIVE n.1 Cf. ON. skífa.]  trans. To cut (bread) into slices.

1570 LEVINS Manip. 152/39 To shiue, dissecare. 1629 GAULE Holy Madn. 343 He shiues out his Bread by weight or measure.

DWALE: [In sense 1, a variant of DWELE n., = OE. *dwela, dweola, dwola, dwala, error, heresy, madness; in sense 2 app. aphetic for OE. {asg}edweola, -dwola, etc. error, heresy, madness, also heretic, deceiver; f. ablaut-series dwel-, dwal-, dwol-: see DWELL v. Cf. OE. dwol- in comb. ‘erring, heretical’, and Goth. dwals ‘foolish’.]


16 Replies to “WFMAD Day 5 – Word geeking in community”

  1. Today was easy for me!

    This one flew out of my fingers. I had the MC of my book, who is a writer, need some inspiration to start her writing again. So, she read the dicitonary… and found “dwale.” The rest of the 500some-odd words were what she did with that word.

    It can all be found here if you so choose.

  2. Thank you for this challenge! I linked to your site from the NCTE Inbox Blog. I just wrote my 15 minutes for the day and found myself going into unexpected arenas in my mind which was so rewarding. I’ve created a folder on my desktop to remind myself to write for 15 minutes first thing each day.

  3. WFMAD…

    Can I still join?? I finally decided to join livejournal today…off to write. I’ll report later…uh-oh, is that a burnt grilled cheese I smell?? Hope not, my daughters will not be happy!

  4. I took a little linguistics in undergrad (my degree was actually physical anthropology though) and I remember best a great quote the prof gave in describing one of the things that is so amazing about English (aside from the fact that though basically it has a Germanic root it`s also really almost an amalgam of Germanic, Gaelic and Latin language groups) is how it so readily accepts new words. The quote was James Nicoll who posted it actually right then when I was studying this stuff: “The problem with defending the purity of the English language is that English is about as pure as a cribhouse whore. We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.”

    I love that English is so dynamic!

    And I loved the image of picking through pockets and seeing new words and saying “Ooh! I like the sound of that word! I think I`ll keep it!” ;D

    As for a writing partner – that`s a great idea! I let work and fatigue get in the way too much I think. My work does keep me very busy, and I have fibromyalgia and a sleep disorder, so fatigue is a real problem… but I think I need a writing partner who cracks a good writing whip!

    I don`t have a critique group any more either unfortunately – I moved last November (from Washington to Alberta) and haven`t found a new group here – and I`m afraid to trust random online groups… Do you know of any trustworthy groups online?

  5. Finished just now. Like I said yesterday, I’d like to limit myself to fifteen minutes as a sort of challenge, but I failed at that again tonight. Had a great time though! Thanks for the stellar prompt.

  6. A writing buddy sounds like a great idea. Well, from a writerly perspective. From a chronically ill, ranked-second-in-my-first-year university student, it sounds like slightly less of a good idea. Nevertheless, it’s one I would definitely go for. I don’t have such a person currently, and I’m not always good at keeping myself honest.

    Another day down here, as well. Today was a bit harder, and I was late to the game (waiting until 11pm is not exactly the best idea, but I still got the words down, at least). Finished chapter one of my rewrite, trying not to be too self-critical. Onto chapter two!

    And I love the idea of wordplay; I just tend to forget to check for prompts before I get my words down!

  7. And thanks for the kind words on my posted writing. We’ve got to keep each other motivated – that’s what the community is all about.

  8. I did it! Missed a few days there, but I wrote 15 minutes last night and then got my 15 minutes in first thing this morning because the schedule was so full it looked like the best time. Yay me!

  9. Thanks so much, Laurie, for linking back to my Inbox blog entry. I hope we get some reciprocal action going. 🙂

    I couldn’t figure out how to get started for today and then the next thing I knew I was writing in the voice of some pretend high school student who didn’t like her homework assignment. I’m not sure where that even came from. I haven’t had that voice since, well, high school. It’s here:

  10. It is a great quote isn’t it? It’s always stuck with me ever since that class in the early 1990s =D

    I do belong to SCBWI but haven’t been to the site in a bit – I used to be in the forums a lot and enjoyed reading the site, but since I moved, I’ve been away from it mostly and the project I’m focussing on at the moment is adult.

    I know I shouldn’t have more than one story going at once, but I’m notoriously bad for not having a tight attention-span. Hence the need for a whip-cracking writing partner – in the past I was meeting with someone once per week so I had to have something done, or it was a work colleague who would bug me every day until I had something new. But I moved very far away from both of these, and am now in a new town where I run a small library.

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