As a freelance writer, I’ve recently been thinking of how I will offer holiday promotion services this year, which reminded me that one of my favorite holidays is coming up. This Saturday, September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.
How do you celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day? I don’t know. Maybe sing “What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor” while swigging Captain Morgan rum.
No. I mean you can, but remember it’s all in the language.
A couple of years ago I worked with a cousin on editing a novel he was writing. In doing so, (he and) I got a little more immersed in the characters in the book than we (I) should have. The book centered around Irish characters. So, not pirates but a similar etymology. I never said “shiver me timbers” mostly because I don’t know what the hell that means anyway. And I’d never call anyone “matey” on purpose. But in discussing the book with my cousin, when I’d answer in the affirmative instead of “yes” I’d say “aye” to him. Instead of “no” I’d say “nay.” When we got stuck on a plot line, to express frustration, I’d say “arrrrgh!”
I’ve long been a fan of old-timey language. For instance I like to say that something is “nigh” when it is nearby or coming soon. And to draw attention to that something, I may exclaim “Lo!” Conversely when I am about to rush off somewhere, I may say I’ll “hie” to that location.
It’s fun. And I’ve been doing it for so long that some of it has become totally natural to me. Maybe not to those having a conversation with me.
It’s just one shining example of how a little bit of each project I do stays with me, perhaps even becomes a part of me. It’s what happens when you are a writer and you do work that means something to you. That doesn’t mean that when I write for you, some Irish slang is going to show up in my work. I can’t control it. What it means is when I go to work for you, if you sit down with me a year later, you just may recognize some aspect of our project bubbling to the surface.
I hope it does. It’s undeniable evidence that I connected with my work.
“Brainstorm” sounds like a hipster word to me. I don’t really know why I think that but I stand by it. It turns out the term was in the dictionary at least a century ago.
Then, the definition of “brainstorm” was “a sudden and severe attack of mental illness”, “a temporary loss of reason” or “a serious error in judgement.” In fact the Oxford Dictionary still supplies those as alternate definitions. These days, a brainstorm holds connotations of something more positive, creative and constructive, usually a group discussion designed to generate ideas.
It isn’t group hysteria though.
Funny though, when someone has an idea that they want to lay on you that is new and unique, and maybe even a bit unorthodox, they’ll probably – perhaps self-deprecatingly – present it as a “crazy idea.”
These are usually the best ideas, probably because they were the result of the person doing a little bit of brainstorming on their own. I’m not saying that every “crazy idea” is a great one. Many of them are just…well, loony ideas. But a really good idea is very likely at some point considered by someone as a “crazy” one. Everything that has never been done before looks crazy to someone. But a lot of things that have never been done before are exactly what a lot of people have been waiting for, maybe without ever knowing it.
You’ve heard that song that goes “what the world needs now is love, sweet love” right? Well what the world may need now is “crazy ideas.” Maybe we need risk-takers. To say we need a “paradigm shift” is a cliche, hyperbolic platitude. Like when people say society needs “change” but without offering any particular plan. Maybe it even sounds like a crazy idea.
So it’s probably worth looking into.
It seems like I have always been writing, my whole life, in one form or another. There was a period in my life (my teens and early twenties) when I wrote “songs”. I started out writing rap songs, then when I moved away from my collaborator and best friend, I drifted off into writing what I heard in my head as rock “songs”.
What’s with the quotes?
Well, I never really mastered any musical instrument, and never bothered to work on anything digital, so the words I wrote were only ever songs inside my brain.
My passion is for words. Making them click. Making the message come through in a provocative (call to action) or at least amusing way.
I am a writer.
But that is not a limitation. If someone has illustrations for a book and needs something written, or if they have an idea but are just really good at the business end of getting it published, fine. I am their man. There is nothing wrong with being a piece of the puzzle in the creative process. It can really be inspiring and motivating. If you’ve ever watched the TV show Songland, you may know what I mean.
I am just a writer of words. And that’s okay.
I could have done something with my “songs” — I could have collaborated with some musicians. I didn’t, but I could have. I moved on to the various other, more productive phases of my writing career that you’ve already read about if you’ve followed this blog.
But the point is always, always know the value of the piece of the creative puzzle that you have to offer. It could be the piece someone else is looking for in their own puzzle.