This was my contibution to the More Than Writers blog in June.
“I may never march in the infantry, ride in the gallery…”
My youngest loves singing loud songs, and this made me think of a few things. One, he only likes belting out that song, because of the “Yes Sir!” at the end. He can also sing with a very sweet little voice, or with funny accents. Like multiple characters. It reminds me that I don’t have to make all my main characters annoying people. Some could be loud and obnoxious, or sweet and sly…Or just sweet.
Two, it makes all the other words in the song slightly inconsequential. My son loves all things warmongering, and as he is very cuddly, sensitive and cute, I let him. For now. It also means he is familiar with the word ‘cavalry’, but somehow sings gallery. Even in the Netherlands they don’t let you ride your bike in a gallery. I know this for a fact. As he just loves the ‘Yes Sir’ bit, he really doesn’t bother with the other words. We talked about this at one of our Zoom chats, how we can read a book, and simply skip the words that elude us. English being my second language, the list of elusive words is probably longer for me, but that doesn’t bother me. I actually enjoy reading books with beautiful sounding obscure words. (I don’t mean technical texts, in that case the unknown words annoy me.) When I started reading in English, I realised if I kept looking up unfamiliar words in my dictionary, reading a book would take forever. So I gave up, and loved the flow of the language. I do admit though, after reading a cleverly written book, I find it hard to work on my novel. It feels such an inferior piece of writing, and my husband’s snorts and appreciative comments are even more necessary.
Three, I love how my son still gets words wrong. I don’t know how long I will find it cute when my kids mispronounce words. Responsible for my youngest is still said as ‘susponsible’. And I don’t have the heart to correct him, same with words like ‘finded’ and ‘maked’. This will have to stop some day, I try to tell myself sternly. After all, I would hate for my kids to write ‘miniscule’ instead of ‘minuscule’. There is a limit to cuteness.
Four, my son is not worried by other people’s judgments. He knows the words are wrong (helpful siblings have spelled it out to him several times each), but he’s not bothered by this. So when I start a new chapter, I remind myself of the joy I find in writing, and how I love exploring faith issues through novels. I remind myself that using words like ‘ask’ rather than ‘enquire’ is fine. Rather than trying to copy one of the ‘masters’, and lose myself, I love how God has made us unique. I love how He works through us and in us, conforming us more and more to the image of His Son. And it’s Christ in us, the hope of glory, which is my aim, not some literary price or millions of copies sold (Not that I wouldn’t be thrilled, of course, just saying…). So, when I start up my laptop, tinkering with my time travelling Vikings, I’m reminded of problems with forgiveness, hatred and fear. And I’m having a great time, picturing the drooping moustaches, fjords and a little Fiat Panda stuck on a beach.
So, carry on riding in the gallery!