Monday, 30 June 2008

Shall we play a word game?

Well, it's not really a game...it's a thing I've nicked out of the paper. In-house mother likes 'The Independent' so that's the paper we have in the house most. Like most papers they do endless celebrity questionnaire-type features and whilst these are...a pain...they're also the kind of thing I seem to end up reading whilst I'm waiting for something to boil or someone to be ready to go somewhere.

Last weekend I was reading the 'My Secret Life' column filled out by Dave Stewart (he of Eurythmics and other bands) - no doubt I was at the kitchen table watching a kettle whilst it took its time about boiling or something equally life-shattering. I'm not a fan of Stewart's particularly but I liked him more by the end of the questionnaire even with some of the unnecessary name dropping taken into consideration. Anyway, the last section in the feature is 'My life in seven words' and I do like to think about words and I particularly like trying to hone ideas* and use words economically**. So can you sum up your life to date in seven carefully chosen words? Here's my go...some of the words (if not all) can and do cover a multitude of sins:

high
fast
scared
touched
trying
cabaret
listening

Obviously this is my life up to now...who knows what words are waiting for me next! I look forward to reading all your 'so far sevens'. Have a go - it's interesting and a little bit fun.
x

*It does say 'trying'.
**This may seen unbelievable when you read some of my rambling blog posts and comments (and you should hear me talk!) but it is something I try to do in poems quite a lot of the time (although not always). What is life without the crazy contradictions and the unexpected after all...

30 comments:

Poetikat said...

Rachel,
I shall have to give this one a good hard think. It's not an off-the-cuff sort of response, is it?

Will be back,

Kat

Rachel Fox said...

Hi Kat

Welcome to the rambling centre of the world!

The way I got my 7 was the way I always try and answer anything like this where honesty is what matters...well, it does to me anyway ( I have a couple of lines in my poem 'Self-help shortcuts' which go 'It's horrible to know yourself/But better to be true).

So - here's how I did it!I tried to empty my mind of crap (tricky...) and then tried to let the true answers fall out...no proper meditation or anything...I just tried to let the answer through (that sounds a bit...wiffly waffly...funny because I am a miserable old cynic some of the time).

Next I looked at my first set of 7 (that took...a few minutes...sounds quick but if you've had any good counselling or therapy and done a lot of writing and thinking about the past then I think your answers may be nearer the surface than they would be for a non-writer who has never been mentally challenged!). Then I asked myself questions about each one - 'is that really what I mean? Was that really a big part of my life? Is that just for laughs or is it true? Is there a word that would cover both those areas (or more) so I could squeeze another in?' This was fairly quick too.

I got one set...fairly quickly...tweaked it a little the next day..and then the next...and there you go! I think the set on the post covers a lot of what I have done (good and bad) as well as people and things and subjects that have mattered to me. I kind of didn't think about it too much...that sounds weird...but I think the words are there...it's just a matter of trying to see (or hear) them clearly...for me.

Did that make sense?

hope said...

Gee, this was harder than it seemed at first read! :)

After sleeping on it, I came up with:

Curious
Reader
Creative
Honest
Laughing
Dependable
Caretaker

If you have questions about those choices, I'll be glad to "try" and answer them. :)

Rachel Fox said...

Hi Hope
I like your list. I did have 'laughing' on mine for a while but then swapped it for 'cabaret' because that did a few more jobs that needed doing for my full set (whilst still keeping laughing in there).

'Honest' and 'dependable'...how fantastic and even better...I believe you! Pull up a chair...make yourself at home...
x

Anyone thinking this is a daft exercise...trying to reduce a life to seven words? I just think it's a good way of thinking about your own life - what has been important, what has happened...I'm not saying I'd like to do it as part of works training course or team-spirit-building thingymajig...

Rachel Fox said...

Plus it's a good way to make you think really hard about words...if you only had seven left...what would they be, kind of a thing...but not that...that would be another exercise altogether...

hope said...

Then I'd have to add a couple to explain how wonderful my husband Scott is....met him at age 16, you know. :)

I tried to stick to the "describe you" formula instead of including the special people in my life. THAT'S a whole other list!

Rachel Fox said...

Well it's not 'describe you' it's 'your life' - there is a subtle difference. In the paper they call it 'my life in seven words'.
So do you need to change any? Get Scott to have a go too.
x

Catherine Nelson-Pollard said...

Ooh... interesting task. No tweaking of words and straight off the cuff, here goes.

Limestone walls

Moors

Hearth

Travel

Friends

Countries

Husband and daughter

Darn, those last two make eight, but I can't have one without the other.

hope said...

I should never read first thing in the morning before my eyes and brain work in unison. :)

Okay as much as I read, I could delete "Reader" and substitute Scott. I could do without reading material before I could my guy.

Rachel Fox said...

Hi Catherine
Good to sort-of meet you. Straight down to the task...that's what I like to see! You have cheated twice but I'll let it go...I am the kind of person who only worries about rules when they really, really matter (you know - hygiene in the operating theatre, train signal systems...that kind of thing).
I like your choices...it's good to see 'friends' and 'moors' and 'hearth'. If you had to make 'husband and daughter' into one word could you do it? Bet you could..and it might end up being a word that has other uses too.

I'm glad love conquered all for you Hope. Books are great but life is not to be sneezed at either! I'm sure 'reading' could be counted under 'curious' anyway. We know it's there.

x

x

Rachel Fox said...

Interesting that this 'game' is appealing more to female readers and writers...where are all my usual gentlemen callers? Are they (a) thinking this is a silly, touchy-feely activity, (b) thinking long and hard about their seven words, (c) wishing their seven words were somehow more impressive or (d) all doing different things...just because they're men doesn't mean they necessarily have anything in common, you know (yes, I know)?

Just some thoughts...Come on...let's go tree hugging...

hope said...

There's an American comedian who claims that men only speak 1000 words a day vs. a woman's 25,000. His act includes the fact that men often grunt in reply because they've run out of words for the day. :)

Maybe the guys are trying to decide if they can spare 7 words. ;)

Rachel Fox said...

But Hope the marvellous men who sometimes call by here are not grunters! They are intelligent, eloquent men of letters!

Colin Will said...

I've tried Rachel, I really have, but this is too hard. I've not managed to get it down to 7, or anywhere near it.

Rachel Fox said...

Hi Colin
Trying is good...as you will see it made it into my list at sizzling number six! For me 'trying' covers many, many things and that's how I managed to keep the list to seven - choosing words that could shelter lots of different aspects of my life so far. But then...if you don't mind me saying it...you have been around a little longer. Maybe you should get 14 words...like a no claims bonus or something!
x

Rachel Fox said...

As you can see I can't count...fabulous number five is what I should have typed!

Jenaisle said...

I don't have enough time to think this over as the computer is blinking. But let me try:

Writings

hopeful

open

plateau

love

tour

happy

I can't explain exactly why, but that is how I could describe my life in 7 words.

It was fun.

Rachel Fox said...

I like you set of seven...plateau is an interesting one.

There was never any instruction that you had to be able to explain your choices...somethings have to be explained...some don't. Thank heavens for that.
x

Poetikat said...

I shouldn't be doing this right now - I should be writing a poem for someone. I am the worst sort of distracted person - an addict, really. If my life were less stable, I'd probably be an alcoholic.

I started from the bottom and worked backwards. Then I did your filtering process. This was not easy and I'm still not happy with it because grasping the essence is nearly impossible. There just aren't enough words. I need 10.

(Ah! Just tweaked again at the last minute.)

1. smile
2. explore
3. confused
4. knowledge
5. tears
6. contentment
7. self-discovery

Btw, here's a link to one of my "self-help" poems.

http://hyggedigter.blogspot.com/
2008/04/days-of-hell.html

Oh, and I'd love to read your "anti-wedding" poem.

Kat

smith3000 said...

Hey,
Go on then, I'll try to give it a go over the weekend. It kinda looks like fun but I may have to give up on it if I start thinking too much ..
I've still got that manana culture in my head.
Back soon.

Ken Armstrong said...

Sum up life to date in seven words:

I'd have to do this off the cuff, which is probably a bit more dangerous than thinking very hard about it...

Actually, it's never going to be 'my life' it's going to be 'my life as I see it today, tomorrow's seven words about my whole life might be different...

No... I've tried (five minutes since the last paragraph) but can't do it, will try again later.

I really should delete this rather pointless comment...

Rachel Fox said...

Kat - good to see you got on with your homework! 'Tears' could easily have been one of mine too...also 'smile' and 'explore' are lovely choices. I do find it an interesting task...of all the words in all the world, who do you pick for your seven...it's fascinating. Anyone can go on and on and on and on...but being succinct, making harsh decisions, editing your life in a way...it is tough.

As you asked my anti-wedding poem is on my website (go to 'poems' then go to 'occasions'). All my poems are on my site apart from one I wrote last week and that's on myspace. I believe in sharing the joy...
Site is www.crowd-pleasers.net

The guys are still struggling with this one I see...interesting. It doesn't matter after all and it's probably one of those tasks that even if you don't complete it you still might have some useful thoughts or ideas or realisations as a result of thinking about it. I might make my seven into a poem of some sort. If we had an arts council grant we could weave all our sevens into a duvet cover or something...

Rachel Fox said...

p.s. 'Self-help shortcuts' is under 'poems' under 'modern world' on the site too.

Colin Will said...

I was once asked to use my right hand (my normal hand) to write down five character traits, then to use my left hand and do the same thing. Here's what came out:

Right-hand me: quiet, inward, nervous, happy, loud

Left-hand me: ruthless, determined, tough, lyrical, loving

Rachel Fox said...

What a great collection Colin. 'Nervous', 'loud', 'ruthless', 'loving'...
Interesting.

smith3000 said...

I just tossed this off, so to speak, without thinking about it too much, so make of that what you will.

Ask. Read. Think. Wheeze. Write. Dance. Toil.

I think my problem was that the idea of trying to sum up my life in 7 words filled me with horror - the idea of actually being able to do it was even more terrifying.

And if I did manage to do it properly, I wasn't sure it would the kind of stuff I'd like all and sundry to read on the internet, even with the relatively anonymity of user names and all that.

Is this a male trait, taking things like this far too seriously?

Either way, it was a lot easier once I just relaxed and got on with it.

Rachel Fox said...

Smithy...toil, are you sure? My, you must have changed!
Great list though...and good to see 'dance' getting a la-la-la-la-look in. And 'wheeze'. It's been interesting how varied the sets of 7 have been - that's as it should be but it's still interesting. And you're the only man who had a go and didn't cheat so well done! Send yourself to the bar for a well-earned drink...

smith3000 said...

Did I write 'toil'? My mistake - I really meant 'soil'..

Rachel Fox said...

With one very old dog in the house and one very young one...believe me one of my words could easily have been 'soil' too. Yuck.

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