Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Powdermilk Biscuits

The research I'm doing just now on my biography subject is in the 1800-1903 period, and so I'm immersed in the language of that period.

One old-fashioned word I read this week leapt out at me: FAINT-HEARTED.

Now I'm a great fan of subtlety, of civility; I'm actually a rather mild-mannered person, not rowdy at all. Part of the reason I write on such a subject as boldness is to make sure I don't sink into a Henry James novel and never come out.

However, I feel sure that even the most deliberately low-key individual would howl at the accusation of being faint-hearted. Who would choose to have a faint heart?

With that in mind, if I look at particular daily behaviors of mine, like procrastinating about jumping into my writing, they could look suspiciously like a lack of courage and passion for what I'm doing. If I remind myself of that, I am immediately emboldened, immediately of stouter heart. (If I'm not careful, this research into 1900 will have me going around saying words like "ere" and "tarrying"and phrases like "happiest hours.") Ere I tarry further, I'll remind myself that my book writing time dwells among my happiest hours.

Does anyone else have a word or image that immediately impels them to do the thing that needs doing?

In Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon, Powdermilk Biscuits give shy people the strength to get up and do what needs to be done.

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