Fire! Inspired by Wine and Words…

After spending three exhilarating days laughing , shopping and wine-“tasting” with my sister and her children during their recent visit (note to Ray: your pre-schoolers did NOT participate in the wine-imbibing activity), I am slowly getting back to business. I also managed to sprain my ankle at some point just before or shortly after their arrival – not sure how. I think that it was while housecleaning, but I could be making that up since a natural preventive measure would be…don’t clean the house. And because I know what you’re all thinking, I’m positive that it happened PRE-wine consumption.

Anyhow, I’ve spent a lot of time over the last few days with my foot propped up and iced down (at least, when I haven’t been hobbling around on crutches during a shopping excursion, or headed to the kitchen for another glass of vino). It’s given me an excuse to do a lot of reading – not that I’ve ever needed an excuse. I’ve just finished  reading BEA Buzz Books: Excerpts from over 30 Top Fall 2012 Titles, and so my “to read” list has grown to a length that will make my husband cover his eyes and moan if he ever sees it. I’ll review some of those books as I read them, but for now suffice it to say that I’m especially excited about reading Barbara Kingsolver’s Flight Behavior (which was already on my to-read list, as is every Kingsolver book the moment I hear of it); Dennis Lehane’s Live By Night, Bill Roorbach’s Life Among Giants and Hanna Pylvainen’s We Sinners.  Note that these are all planned as FALL releases, so don’t expect to read any of these books in its entirety just yet…but you might check out the BEA Buzz Books title noted above (free as an e-book – link is for the Amazon Kindle), and get those first sweet nibbles, as I did. And you CAN pre-order them through Amazon.

Speaking of nibbling…a non-fiction fall release that served up a lengthy excerpt among the Buzz Books was Bee Wilson’s Consider the Fork: A History of How We Cook and Eat. The excerpt details the history of “Fire” – how we’ve used heat to cook our food. Given my addiction to etymology, I was especially taken by Wilson’s explanation of the origins of the words “fireplace,” (from the Latin word “focus”) and “curfew” (originally “a large metal cover placed over the embers at night to contain the fire while people slept.”) I compared those word histories to the ways in which we use those terms today and wondered how I might incorporate the comparisons in poems or stories.

I find myself playing these sorts of games a lot: looking a word up in an etymological dictionary, and perhaps some words that sound as though they might be related, and playing with those relationships in my head.

So if you’d like to play along with me this week, try this: pick a few of your favorite words, and look them up in an etymological dictionary. Here’s an on-line source: http://www.etymonline.com/ .  You DO have a few favorite words, don’t you? If not, just pick a letter, and a number between 1 and 100; go to that letter in your dictionary, and count words until you get to your number. If it’s a dud (sometimes the origin is obvious and not very interesting), try again until  you find a word origin that causes your mind to begin sparking. Use this to ignite a story, poem or non-fiction piece.

If you start wondering about relationships with other words, look those up, too. Even if they don’t seem to have common origins, consider using a comparison to spark a piece of writing, anyhow.

Post your writing to your blog or as a note on your FB page and provide the link in a comment here. And participate further by reading AT LEAST the piece BEFORE and AFTER yours (the first if there’s no one after you…the last if there’s no one before you), and comment. If you don’t have anything useful to say, move on  to the next response to the prompt and comment on that. Remember the rules as outlined in my previous post…be kind in your comments. Let’s plan to post and link our responses to the prompt by Sunday morning, and to make our comments by Tuesday morning.

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