Many years ago, my parents visited Chincoteague Island, a beautiful location on the Virginia shore famous for its wild horses. They came home with great photographs, lots of stories, and fun memories. When they told me about it, my reaction became family lore. “Ah,” I said, “So that’s how you pronounce that.”

Shocked, my sister asked, “You didn’t know?”

“No. I’ve never needed to say it.”

“Haven’t you read books about it?”

“Sure,” I replied, “But I just read the word. I don’t have to pronounce it.”

“What do you do then? Just substitute ‘hard word’ for things you can’t pronounce?” Ever since, the family name for the place has been Hard Word Island.

For whatever it’s worth as explanation, when I read, I see an image in my mind of the story, not words. Something in my brain is absorbing the words, of course, but consciously I see only a picture. When I describe that to people, I receive one of two reactions—total disbelief or people who say it works the same for them.

Writing is the opposite. The story in my head is a movie and I need to translate it into words.

This has its advantages. We lived for a short while in Greenville, South Carolina. I don’t have any memories of it because I was a very little kid, still learning to talk.

Like many young children, I struggled with the proper pronunciation of certain letter combinations. For example, I couldn’t quite pronounce the r in the suffix -burg or -burgh. So, Pittsburgh would come out as “Pittsbug.”

I also used the “f” sound for “sp” words. If I wanted a spoon, I asked for a “foon.” If I spilled something, I announced I “filled” it.

No big deal, right?

It wouldn’t have been if the twin city of Greenville wasn’t Spartanburg. I proudly announced, usually at a high volume, that we visited “Fartin’bug.” Since my mind translates words into images, I can’t help but think of an insect with flatulence even as I tell this story.

Maybe I should have called it Hard Word, South Carolina.


Update On My Next Novel

As I mentioned last week, my story editor completed her work on my manuscript. Last week went quite smoothly, so I am about 50% of the way through my revisions. That puts me well ahead of schedule for my August 11th deadline for my copy editor (grammar, punctuation, and all of the other fun parts of writing).

I also answered some questions for my cover designer (no, I haven’t seen anything yet. I get drafts next week) and reviewed marketing materials.

With deadlines and plentiful work, I am not reading for pleasure at the moment, so the Books Read section will return to my Musings in a couple of weeks.

Reminder to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (see link below). Subscribers are always the first to know. They will learn the official title on August 4 and will see the cover on September 1.


Gratuitous Dog Picture

Is it Monday again?
Is it Monday again?

His Royal Highness Little Prince Typhoon Phooey looks unimpressed with Monday rolling around again. Or maybe he wasn’t happy when I disturbed his nap for a photograph. Either way, you can see why we call him the Little Curmudgeon.


Background title image courtesy Hilary Halliwell

5 Comments

  1. Jean Burkhardt on July 26, 2021 at 7:36 am

    The Little Prince Typhoon Phooey REALLY looks upset PLUS the tufts of hair sticking up is really funny-sorry Typhoon! Monday mornings are NOT fun-for sure.

  2. Deborah Rolman on July 26, 2021 at 9:38 am

    Thanks for starting my Monday morning with a laugh. I often find myself googling how to pronounce words. (In fact, I googled Chincoteague after the first paragraph. I’ve read about it and want to go there but had no idea how it was pronounced.) I’ve sometimes listened to audiobooks just to find out how a name is pronounced.
    Now get back to your revisions. I’m looking forward to the new novel.

  3. Debbie and Ruby on July 26, 2021 at 10:28 am

    Thanks for the Monday morning funny.. Love Typhoon as usual. By the way I enjoyed “The River”, looking forward to your new one.

  4. Karen on July 26, 2021 at 2:13 pm

    I once saw someone comment how you should never make fun of someone mispronouncing a word because that means they learned it from reading. I mispronounce so many words but even when I learn the correct way, I usually feel like my version is better so I stick with it.

    And Little Prince looks sad. I think that is because he is so mistreated. 🙂 <3

  5. HokiePack on July 26, 2021 at 4:00 pm

    Pluck Pluck Time TY! To be honest I have a Southern version of everything I pronounce!!! Easy peasy to blame it on being raised in the South!! HAHA

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