Voice Card  -  Volume 23  -  Stuart Card Number 3  -  Sat, Jan 11, 1992 11:16 AM

This is ONE OF 2 responses to VC 22 Drury 5 ("O E De")...

Yes, I try to keep a dictionary, even a crummy paperback one, nearby whenever I write anything more demanding than a grocery list or a note to Kathy about when I'll be coming home. I think it's a good idea, and not just to help you with spelling, either, but because I think it's healthy to rummage through it once in a while, to keep in touch with words.

(It reminds me of the story of The New Yorker editor who, when things got too stressed out, would have his secretary come into his office and read definitions out loud from the OED as he leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes.)

And let me also take this opportunity to respond to the voice card to which Drury responds - see VC 21 Yumi 6. (John, will you make the necessary hook ups to Yumi's card, please?).

[Editor's note: To jump to an underlined voice card reference just hold down on the key and click on the reference.]

Yumi, in the voice card of mine to which you refer (see VC 20 Stuart 5), I must now admit (my conscience won't let me go on any longer without saying it - aiyeee!) that a lot of the big words that I say I use in everyday instances, like when I talk to my auto mechanic and stuff, well, er, I really don't use a lot of those words very often. In fact, I had to look most of them up.

Some I didn't even know, like "aeciostage," which Websters says is "The period in their life cycle during which certain rust fungi produce aecia". (No wonder you felt bad for not knowing such an obvious thing as that! )

I just threw them into the voice card that I was writing because they sounded good and because they helped me make my point about the writing process, about just doing it. I didn't think that the card would spark worried voice cards about not having the vocabulary of William Buckley or not having the trusty OED (we all know that's the Oxford English Dictionary, right, that 22 volume brilliant monument to our great language or, for those of us who don't spend all our time in library reference rooms, the heavy, print reduced two volume set that you can take home and which includes a magnifying glass (no kidding) and a truss (kidding) free with your purchase - I had a professor in college who used the two volume set as a night stand) by your computer when you do your Archipleago reading and responding.

But I didn't start this voice card to try to make a new world's record for parenthetical references. I just wanted to reiterate what I said in my earlier voice card, the one I refer to above, about the great value of Archipelago in helping us all to be better writers and readers and listeners. This week in my honor's composition and lit. class, we read an essay called "A Way of Writing" by William Stafford. In it, he says some comforting things about writers that I think are worth repeating here:

"A writer is not so much someone who has something to say as he is someone who has found a process that will bring about new things he would not have thought of if he had not started to say them. That is; he does not draw on a reservoir; instead, he engages in an activity that brings to him a whole succession of unforeseen stories, poems, essays, plays, laws, philosophies, religions, or. . . . Writers may not be special - sensitive or talented in any usual sense. They are simply engaged in sustained use of a language skill we all have."