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Living In Your Head


There was a long time in my life where my family moved often.  Yeah, I can be social, but it’s only after I get over a beginning, crippling nervousness–one that almost always sprouted some sort of rash during that first week at a new school.

Starting new so often tore me up, so I turned to books.  Books kept me company, especially during our stint in a remote commune in the Ozark Mountains.

They were friends on the many long trips we took with six people crammed into whatever vehicle we happened to be driving at the time–One of my sisters thought it fun to stare at me for hours on these trips.  And every so often, she’d reach out and poke me in the side.  Brat.  But in the pic?  That’s the baby brother… whole ‘nother story…

But my books were sacred and the whole family knew not to start the trip unless I had enough to keep me occupied.  Otherwise, I would have pounded on the one sister most of the trip.  (Or uh, strangled the baby brother.) I always made sure to pack my keepers–the ones that felt like long term friends I could reread for comfort.

Honestly, I think books kept me sane at times.  I could disappear into a dreamy world of adventure, excitement or love.  I could experience other realms of ideas or thoughts.  In the Ozark Mountains, I used to take a packed snack, blanket and a book and walk deep into the woods so I could lie on the forest floor and read.  There were wild blackberry bushes near my favorite spot and sometimes, I’d turn the pages purple from the juice on my fingers. 🙂

One of the hardest parts of growing up and getting involved in a busy mom life is a lack of true reading time.  By true, I mean that total immersion into the story.  There just isn’t as much time these days.

It does happen, but a part of my brain stays painfully aware of what’s going on around me as well as keeps tabs on the crazy schedule.   I forget things so easily when I get lost in reading and now writing.

But I’ve also realized that since becoming a writer, I read differently.  It takes a very good writer to yank me all the way into a story these days.  What does it for me is fantastic characters–ones that feel so real, you know they’d reach through the pages of the book to pinch you if you aren’t paying attention.

This was supposed to be about pronunciation. <g>  Rambling Sunday mornings, eh?


One byproduct of all that time I spent reading over socializing was a tremendous vocabulary of words I didn’t know how to pronounce. Seriously.  I didn’t watch all that much television and didn’t go to the movies that often (We traveled a lot!) and I knew words that weren’t used in everyday conversations–but I knew them wrong.

I pronounced virile with that first “i” long for years.  Don’t know why.  Doesn’t make sense now, but it means something totally different then, eh?  Words like “hover” were pronounced with a long “o”.

When I started dating my incredibly smart future hubby, he found it sweet that I knew all these words yet no one had told me how to say them.

But… I felt like an idiot every time I learned I was mispronouncing words.

I grew to be afraid of public speaking.

I remember the first time I was asked to teach a workshop on character tags for my local RWA chapter and I grew so panicked, I ended up saving my beta blocker for right before it started.  (I was ill with Graves at the time and they were a requirement for keeping my heart rate down.)  And sure enough, one of the ladies called out a word I didn’t recognize.

I stood for a minute, took a deep breath and realized I did know the word “laconic” but had been, of course, saying it differently in my head.  Nervous, I wrote “laid back” into that slot anyway.

The world didn’t end and no one thought I was a dummy–in fact, no one knew of that tiny mini battle I’d fought in those few seconds.

To this day, there are times I’m not sure how to pronounce a certain word.  And I’m a word junkie.  Ask my cp–Rachel, who btw, shares this weird liking for new words.

But I found this great place on the net that not only gives you a definition, but it shows you the correct pronunciation.  And you don’t have to pay for a premium membership either. Cool, eh?  🙂

Online Dictionary with Pronunciation!


  1. April 23, 2007    

    Rinda, in many ways we are so similar. I, too, have a little brother I would gladly have throttled during those long car trips (in my case from Illinois to parts unknown). I, too, required lots of books and still do, to keep me sane. I despise the periods in my life when I am unable to concentrate on a book; for some reason I’m going through such a time right now where it’s been virtually impossible to finish books. You say a character keeps you, for me it’s the plot. Or, a philosophy. About pronouncing words? Or rather, mispronouncing them? My very worst, most embarassing misprounciation was in college where I asked what hyper-boll was. You know, hyperbole? It stil makes me cringe.

  2. April 23, 2007    

    I used to be sensitive about my mispronunciations, too. And I know there are a lot of words out there I still don’t know how to pronounce. So, thanks much for passing on the link!

    (The first time I ordered filet mignon I pronounce it “Fill-It-Midge-Un.” I think I was ten.)

  3. April 23, 2007    

    I had a gift for wsimply falling asleep on car trips. Something about an engine and the rythm of passing sign posts…

    I would tap one finger each time a road marker passed, and this would hypnotize me… and then pretty soon…


    CRAP! (caps lock issue, sorry!)

    I did a meme (for want of a better term) awhile back where you googled one of your childhood homes and then told a story by what the aerial photo showed you. I think you would do good at this. Try it sometime…

  4. April 23, 2007    

    I think it’s great to have a vocabulary like that! I’m much the same way. Once in a while, I’ll discover that a word I use all the time (in *writing*) is pronounced totally different from what I think. (I found out I pronounced “barrage” and “palindrome” incorrectly, for example.) When I first met my fiance, he made a similar mistake… he told me he had a good “rappaport” with his clients. Don’t feel bad–happens to all of us! =)

  5. April 23, 2007    

    Today, I get words on a completely different level and since to this day, I look up how to pronounce, this doesn’t happen quite as often. But… it still does. There are soooo many words, I can’t imagine everyone knowing them all.

    Oh man, hyperbole was one of mine, too.

    We all do this. It’s just way easier to swallow when not public speaking. heh heh

  6. April 23, 2007    

    Okay, you’re gonna LAUGH over this one…I grew up in RURAL Northern California, where English can almost be considered a second language…we just made up our own words. Anyway, as someone who seriously devoured words, I always had a pretty big vocab, but pronunciation…not so much. The one that slayed me the worst, and always will is this…

    I was working for the Youth Conservation Corps one summer with folks from across the US. We were caulking bear boxes (you know, the thinks you put your food in when you’re in the high country). The kids and counselors got a serious roar one day when I called for more caulk. Keep in mind, I’m a naive girl at this point…grew up in the sticks, not a lot of dirty language.

    Anyway, I’d always pronounced caulk the way you would “walk” and “talk”. Yeah. Picure me, shouting at the top of my lungs…”I need more cock.” After the giggles died down, one of the counselors took me aside and explained why everyone was laughing at me.

    Needless to say, I am now VERY careful about pronouncing the “l” in caulk!!

  7. April 23, 2007    

    Terri! Heh heh. I have a caulk story but it’s not nearly as funny as yours. I can just picture it!

  8. April 24, 2007    

    If I mispronounce something and get called on it, I always just say: “Whatever.. I’m from Texas.” It works.

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