Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Little Big Words

A & THE- small words with big jobs

In the beginning...
Once Upon A Time...

Believe it or not, THE and A in these auspicious statements above could be read as being the most important of all the words therein.

Bret Lott dedicates an entire essay to the small words- a, the, and this to be exact in the collection "Words Overflown by Stars: Creative Writing Instruction and Insight from the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA Program", Edited by David Jauss. Here is an example of the heights to which he takes the words:

"... I'd like to start this essay with the suggestion we be careful with the word, no matter how "small". I propose that in caring for the word, in all its light and texture and density and purpose, we see ourselves as the servants to the word we are called to be as writers. I would like to begin by suggesting that even the single letter a is worthy of our carrying, through the long and arduous and fulfilling and ill-attended parade our writing lives will be, as though it were a golden crown on a tufted pillow, and not so many yards of gravel dumped on a roadbed. Our ideas, our ambitions, our intellect truly are, after all, nothing more than paper floats. The word came before us, and will live on after us, whether that word be a single timorous letter or a polysyllabic fiesta."


The point here, I will venture to assume, is about how even the smallest words matter because the difference between the indefinite 'a' and the definite 'the' can build character, suggest intimacy, set place and time and create or close distance. Every word matters and for that reason, we must chose them with careful consideration- even if the careful consideration part comes after the great explosion of prose or poetry.

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