Choice Words

Words MatterIn high school, my English teacher, Ms. Stewart (who later married a math teacher and became Mrs. Moscaritolo), taught us a lesson I never forgot. She pointed out a classmate’s writing, and said, “See how each word is deliberately chosen?” My classmate, Eric, had been thoughtful about word choice, and it was a revelation. I became conscious of haste, and labored to choose each word only upon reflection. Much later, reflection was necessarily tempered by a lesson in deadlines.

Writing is a craft, like masonry, each word precisely chosen and stacked to fit thought, sentence, paragraph, page. Since my early lesson, choosing the right word has become so ingrained, that most times I’m not even conscious I’m choosing, as I’ve labored of late to describe, for example, the landing of the Curiosity Rover on Mars. Is the planet red, blushing, rubicund?

I still have one of my haiku, which Ms. Stewart “published” via a mimeographed sheet, among those of a few other students. Eric included. So if you’re feeling curious, or even inquisitive:

Jagged whitecaps crash
In conspiracy with
the relentless driving wind