When the writer is too tired to write, to read, to think, what’s left?

I ask myself that. Too often, probably. Without the writer in me, what’s left in that skin-and-bone-arena, after all?

Being a Word Lover. That remains.

The Alchemy of letters is a mysterious one. Letters into words. Words into sentences. How they sing. How they click. How they hiss and hum and flurry. How they seduce, singly and in combination. How they come together to paint the page. How they escape past our gatekeeper thoughts to claim lives of their own.

There is only one right combination of words to convey an idea. There are endless combinations of words to convey an idea. When a combination is right, it seems inevitable; changing or removing one would be like removing the keystone that holds the whole thing together.

And even then, the path to right is never obvious. Taking words away can reduce an idea to its purest essence (a phenomenon the Salon explored in our Five-Word Story exercise): How few words can express a meaning, convey an emotion? In the opposite practice, making the sentence Baroque and serpentine can give the sentence a dancelike elegance, or lead the reader to the character’s sense of wandering loss.

Words embrace like sunlight does. Words stand in the corner and stamp their stubborn feet. When the writer is too exhausted to do anything more than weep, the words remain.

Sometimes, they are the loves of one’s life. Sometimes they don’t love you back.