Emma Neale on writer’s block and ‘what’s-the-word-for-it-ness’
“Even when experiencing writer’s block, I get a kind of electrical tingle, a sliding warmth, or even a centeredness out of the look and sound of certain words. It’s not exactly synesthesia, but it makes me wonder if there is another sense we haven’t yet named. Some words seem to peel free of their immediate context for a moment. They bring a feeling of ease, satisfaction, amusement, or animation, that doesn’t always fit with the meaning of the word itself. There are words I want to pick up off the page, or out of the air, and gaze at, or listen to again more closely, as if tuning an instrument. I want to turn them over, feel whether they’re rough or smooth, put them on the kitchen windowsill to see how they catch the light, and whether they’ll throw it back into the room as prismatic spill, blue coin on the floor, or a bobbing, lemon jack o’ the wall. Or whether some word might sprout: buds, leaves.
I like the idea of a sidewalk chalkboard in the kitchen, with a word of the day written there, sending out its something-like-a-scent, its something-like-a-light, its something-like-a-texture, its something-like-a-coolness: its very what’s-the-word-for-it-ness.”