Today’s study involved familiarising ourselves in using the OED as an online reference source (student access to it opens up more than you get by going to the site without student/teacher access).
We were asked to look up certain words that had been used in poems we’ve been studying this week. One of the poems was ‘The Captiv’d Bee: or, The Little Filcher’ by Robert Herrick. Herrick used several archaic and obsolete words, including the word ‘scrip’. His use of it was as its first definition (a small pouch or bag carried by a pilgrim) which he used in metaphor.
The word has/had other meanings, including this one (primarily a Scottish term, as you can see from the screengrab I took of the OED definition).
It struck a chord…
‘Oh, Jim Am I destined to Forever sufferance thy scrip?’
Recently I have been told by a few people that I write very well. One suggested I contact a music magazine and lodge an application to work for them. This person had written articles themselves for the magazine in question and they gave me the email address of the editor.
I didn’t do anything about it. I would fear pursuing it. It is one thing to write at one’s own leisure your own thoughts and feelings or to write your own musical reviews and share that content on a blog that you have sole say over. It’s quite a different thing to work for someone else and work to a deadline. I’m not sure I could do it.
Just today a person asked me if I write professionally. The answer is no I don’t. There is one minor thing I do in which I write small pieces of text, but I don’t work to a deadline and my “boss” for the most part gives me free rein over what is written.
But could I ever write like this?
That, I strongly doubt. Granted, I have not spent over 40 years of my life writing professionally. And for many years prior to that most likely being quite good at English, enjoying the language and writing stories. Jim did.
I never had the imagination to create imaginary places. Never felt I had “the gift” for that kind of thing. Compared to what I’d hear from others in class, my stories sucked. So as a consequence I guess I felt like writing was just “not my bag”.
Until I read Anne Frank’s diary. To read her diary is to find that, no matter how insular you feel. No matter how insignificant your world may feel to you, you are living a life and you have your own dramas, hopes, fears and dreams. And yes, ultimately her story was so much bigger than what was going on in that tiny annex…but the way she made the minutiae of that circumstance feel is just SSOOO compelling!
Could I have worded how I felt about her diary like that as a 13 year old reading it for the first time? NO WAY! But it was an impetus for me to keep a diary myself. And YES, my life was far, FAR more insignificant (in no way suggesting Frank’s was). BUT…I was writing. I was using language. Trying hard to teach myself a level of expression that was escaping me from not being at school. I just kept wanting to teach myself.
I read books. Not sweeping epics of prose, just regular novels. I tried with Shakespeare. Lord knows I tried. But I attached myself more to James Joyce and Oscar Wilde. I read the poetry of Henry Lawson and Banjo Paterson and children’s books by May Gibbs and read the 87th Precinct detective novels of Ed McBain. I read “trash” too. Sidney Sheldon novels and Anne Rice vampire novels. I went from Anne Frank to Anne Rice.
I asked for a concise dictionary for my 15th birthday and read it like a novel.
At the library, I would look at the encyclopaedias and VOLUMES of dictionaries and wish to have them at home. You weren’t allowed to borrow reference books. I could never understand why.
To be asked in recent times whether I write for a living is amazing. To be told by others that I have some kind of “flair” or “way” is wonderful. And just maybe on the odd occasion I allow myself to accept such compliments and think I am worthy of them. But for the most part? No.
Beyond Jim’s beautiful way with words and expressing himself was this…
How could someone believe “an eye for an eye” is good? Because, isn’t that ultimately what war is? An eye for an eye? Fighting fire with fire? Two wrongs don’t make a right, do they?
Why is it such a childish thought to want peace? Not to have wars? And why do we never learn? Why are we destined to make the same mistakes over and over?
How is pacifism NOT the answer? How is love not the answer?
I want to end with this. Because it is just so beautiful in its simplicity. No big words. Just the basics and the question of “why”?
BBC Radio 3 “Music Matters” programme talks to Ged Grimes about Dundee, its culture, city life and gaming industry, The Bard’s Tale and keeping alive the use of the Gaelic language for future generations.