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Do you wish you could write? Or you'd like to get back into writing? You've landed in the right place! I'm Kim Duke, your writing coach based in Canada. I help women start writing for the sheer joy of it!

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Fall In Love With Your Dictionary!

Dictionaries have always been one of my secret loves. (And thesauruses too!) My obsession started early as I’ve been in love with words as long as I can remember.

Somewhere along the way in my childhood, someone gave me an old hardcover Pocket Oxford Dictionary. It was navy blue and fit perfectly in my hand.  Gold printing was embossed on the cover as well as an emblem.  The creamy pages were whisper thin and I loved running my fingers over them. It was compiled by F.G. Fowler and H.W. Fowler.  Frank and Harriet? I never knew. My version was printed in 1954, but originally it was printed in July 1924 — which just blew my little prairie girl mind. It sang, “Fall in love with your dictionary!”

And so I did. I fell in love with it instantly. How many people do you know can say their first crush was a book?

Daily, I’d flip through my dictionary pages and randomly choose a word.   I’d avoid the words I knew like: kangaroo, banana, and gravity.  But rapt caught my eye as did verdant, contemplate, tintinnabulation, vortex, yeoman, and dirndl. And hundreds more.

I wanted to grow up to be erudite.  But I didn’t understand how erudition meant rudeness when being erudite was so clearly not that?

One thing for sure. I practiced my words on everyone.  I definitely mispronounced many of them.  I remember my mom saying, “Sword is pronounced SORD, Kim —not SWORED.”

But I persisted.  Years later, one of my cousins who is eleven years older than me, said,

“Kim, it was the craziest thing. You were this little girl who was always spouting these long words and I had no idea what they meant!”

Somewhere along the line, and after many moves as a young adult —I lost my beloved little blue dictionary.  I felt horrible about it. Like I’d let it down somehow.  All I could hope for was that its magic would land in front of a person who would appreciate it.

And just a few years ago, what did I find?  The little blue Pocket Oxford Dictionary.  Version 1954!  No, it didn’t suddenly appear in a trunk from the attic.  I found it at a thrift store and gasped as I clutched it and did a little dance in the aisle.  (If you’re a thrifter —you know that of which I speak.)

I still go through the dictionary pages often, but now I like to collage pictures and phrases into the relevant sections.  I don’t think F.G. Fowler and H.W. Fowler would be thrilled, but then again —why wouldn’t they?

They created something beautiful that has stood the test of time and I’m adding to its delicate yet resilient beauty with my scissors, magazines, and glue.

 transmute, transform; vary, mutate; amend, modify.

And Now It’s Your Turn

If you don’t have a physical dictionary in your life? Please get one. You’re missing out!

Keep it handy. Skim the pages while you sip your morning coffee. Or randomly flip the pages and just take a stab at a word. Now, write about it! There’s no excuse for writer’s block when you have a dictionary as a friend. Cheesy. But true.

I’ll get you started:

propitious: inclined to show favour, favouring, of good omen.

*Did you love this? Then check out Scribbly – my quirky and gentle writing program that we snail-mail right to your home. Each issue has a theme, so all you have to do is follow the path! We make writing easy and fun for you. We’re nice like that.

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