I have a little 7 x 4 3/8 inch ringbound blue-covered notebook that I started writing a variety of things in back in late February of this year. I will probably never share the majority of the things in that notebook (which I’m okay with), but I do like what I’ve written on the first page:
There’s just something about the first page of a brand new notebook… all that unmarked space ahead, just waiting for words, all that possibility waiting to be nailed down in ink; hope for wonderful things, but holding that hope with the knowledge that life is not “fair” and hard and dark things may come too – and, at least for a notebook like this, with a writer/owner like me, those hard things will be inked out as well, so that I can look back and see what God has brought me through.
New notebooks call to the wordsmith in me.
I like the idea of a wordsmith. Some of the tools have changed over the years, but the basics of the process have stayed the same – basics that wordsmithing has in common with metalsmithing, if you think about it.
There’s the hammering and sweating, pounding out the initial shape, burning away the unneeded or impure parts, the grinding and sharpening, contracting or stretching looking for that particular balance that fits the piece… the occasional giving up in frustration and tossing it to the scrapheap to be melted down or pulled apart for a later attempt… After the forging is finally done, there’s more sharpening, filing away the last of the rough edges, smoothing the joints between pieces, and, finally, the polishing until it comes out just right.
Both professions produce a remarkable range of works. From the horror story like a twisted, spiky, dark iron torch holder, that sheds light on our humanity even in its own darkness, to the poetry like a graceful silver steel saber, glinting in the light and cutting straight to the heart. From a statement as simple and direct as a nail (they were once formed by hand, you know, just as things like We hold these truths to be self-evident… were) to arguments as complex and interconnected as a wire basket. From simple functional records of events like a stamped brass plate to flights of fantasy that bring beauty into the world like a delicately wrought wind chime.
Yes, the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of wordsmithing as a fitting synonym for this craft we also call writing.