A word walks into a writer’s brain



A word walks into a writer’s brain looking for a job. The writer takes the resume and looks it over.


You have an impressive work history. I see that you worked with Chaucer and have worked for every writer that uses the English language since then. Do you work in every genre?


The word blushes and nods.


Okay, let’s look at role in syntax. You’re an indefinite pronoun. That’s an exclusive club that no new words are going to get into anytime soon. You also do a lot of work as an adjective, but don’t seem to mind working as an adverb now and then.


The word shifts in its chair, unused to drawing attention to itself. It gazes out the window.


The writer looks up from the resume and peers over her reading glasses. The word looks good for its age, she thinks, yet it’s nothing special to look at. She’s familiar with it and has never given it much thought, but now that she sees its resume she’s impressed. She lays the paper on her desk.


How do you see yourself? What are your strengths and weaknesses?


The word detests questions like this and feels its resume should speak for itself. Writers can be such snobs when it comes to words, it thinks, but these interviews are necessary. We need each other; writers can’t express their thoughts without words, and words die if they aren’t employed.


The word adjusts its glasses and sits up in the chair. “Let me start with my greatest weakness. If I am used too much, the writing becomes vague and imprecise. I do my best work if I’m used sparingly. But, of course, I don’t really have a choice.”  The word wonders if this sounds like blame shifting, so it tries to think of another weakness. “I am plain-spoken and try not to draw attention to myself, so I suppose, a few people might consider that a weakness. I’ve never been on anyone’s favorite word list.”


“My greatest strength is my versatility. As you can see from my resume, I can work alone as a pronoun, adjective, or adverb, but I also work well with others. When I started my career, I spent hundreds of years modifying and hyphenating words that I later collaborated with to form single words. I also enjoy supporting other words as a suffix to create new adjectives. In that role I have worked with adverbs, nouns, and other adjectives.”


The writer stretched out her hand and grasped the word’s hand.


Can you start tomorrow?


“Yes,” the word said.


Okay, be at this blog tomorrow morning and we’ll begin.


25 thoughts on “A word walks into a writer’s brain

  1. Okay. while I’m trying to figure out this hireling’s name, I leave you to ponder Humpty-Dumpty on the employment of words (from Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-glass), one of my favorite passages in all of literature:

    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. ‘…. I meant “there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!”‘

    ‘But “glory” doesn’t mean “a nice knock-down argument”,’ Alice objected.

    ‘When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Alice, ‘whether you can make words mean so many different things.’

    ‘The question is,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘which is to be master — that’s all.’

    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything; so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. ‘They’ve a temper, some of them — particularly verbs: they’re the proudest — adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs — however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!’

    ‘Would you tell me please,’ said Alice, ‘what that means?’

    ‘Now you talk like a reasonable child,’ said Humpty Dumpty, looking very much pleased. ‘I meant by “impenetrability” that we’ve had enough of that subject, and it would be just as well if you’d mention what you mean to do next, as I suppose you don’t mean to stop here all the rest of your life.’

    ‘That’s a great deal to make one word mean,’ Alice said in a thoughtful tone.

    ‘When I make a word do a lot of work like that,’ said Humpty Dumpty, ‘I always pay it extra.’

    ‘Oh!’ said Alice. She was too much puzzled to make any other remark.

    ‘Ah, you should see ’em come round me of a Saturday night,’ Humpty Dumpty went on, wagging his head gravely from side to side, ‘for to get their wages, you know.’

  2. Okay … I have a guess, but I’m holding my cards close to my chest until you reveal the answer … although I’m a bit flummoxed by the adverb angle … hmmm … guess we’ll have to tune in tomorrow to know for sure

    clever, very clever

  3. LOVE IT!!!!! I’ve been at that interview! Recovering from a bad case of Thesaurus, I was about ready to go back to work when word made me laugh so hard I pulled a thesis. Hired, fired, conspired and re-wired, I’m grateful for your take on the good word. Peace out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s