Monday, October 25, 2010

words words words

This is probably going to sound weird, but just go with it.

I think I've been word deficient.

It's sort of like being iron deficient (which most meat eaters will never be, but vegetarians know to watch out for...). Not quite anemic, but just in that stage of not ingesting or effectively processing enough iron to keep the body running top-notch. The general symptoms of iron deficiency (in my experience anyway) involve fatigue, more fatigue, and slightly paler skin than usual.
I know...I am already as pale as most people can even imagine, but trust me, I can get paler.

Word deficiency seems to be kind of the same--fatigue and unhealthy pallor. In a metaphorical sense, of course. I've noticed my imagination is less active (except in unhelpful ways). My writing is either non-existent or terrible. My sense of wonder and even general happiness is sort of lacking. And any poetic sensibilities I may have harbored at any point are completely missing. Even my listening skills seem dulled.

I think this is because I have not been reading as much as I normally do/should. My word intake is below the RDA.

I mean, yes, I read stuff. I read news stories online and I read facebook status updates and tweets and blogs and the occasional church-related magazine. And I read material that I'm planning to teach or use in preaching. But for several months now my general reading has been low.

I noticed it most when I was away on retreat and I read 4 books in 6 days.

Yeah. That's a lot of reading.

the thing is, it felt so GOOD! It was almost like replenishing my internal word count--like I had somehow depleted the sheer number and potential combinations of words inside of me, and was now coming back to healthy levels.

So now that I'm not on retreat anymore, I'm working on some kind of routine that will either allow or force (depending on your perspective...and probably mine too!) me to read something, or several different types of something, every day. Not just online, but in real books or kindle editions. Not just church related magazines but novels, sociological stuff, spiritual practices, poetry, theology, maybe even some other kind of non-fiction.

Just like I have to be intentional about iron, I think I need to be more intentional about my word intake. Healthy sources, plenty of them, and in combination with the right things that will make the words digestable, useable, things I can process. I'm taking suggestions for reading...


  1. I know what you mean - I get parched, too, even when I am doing good "professional" reading. It's the poetry, the fiction andnon-fiction, humorous and other, the cookbooks, the travel books that I miss. Sometimes I feast, and then sometimes there is famine. In one now, until I finish some hard but good required reading.

  2. I'm recommending I Capture the Castle to everyone. It's a Young Adult lit book written before there was such a category. Love it.

  3. I'm trying to more as well...but today, although I am laying around doing almost nothing due to a head cold, I also can't read because my glasses annoy my stuffy head. sigh...

    I think you make a good point, really hard to increase our word intake and usage if we aren't supply the nutrients...

  4. I think you nailed it on the head. I find that when my pleasure reading takes a backseat and I come back to it, my mind devours the words as though it were starving. I've had many accidental late nights from not being able to put down a good book. But it does also seem to get the creative juices flowing again, as though my mind's eye has been reawakened. Sorry for mixing my metaphors :)

  5. Teri, you are very wise. I think reading is a huge source of nourishment.
    I'm reading Eboo Patel's wonderful book, Acts of Faith, Deb Reinstra's fine book, Worship Words and Mary Oliver's Why I Wake Early.