words like lightning and thunder

14 December 2014

"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."-- Mark Twain
This quote was scrawled out across the whiteboard in class one day, written in my teacher's hasty, cursive handwriting. She had us copy it down in our notes, and it has stuck with me ever since.

I'm a writer. My passion is literally sticking letters and sounds and syllables together to create words that add up to sentences, and, eventually, stories.

A couple weeks ago, my teacher read to the entire class a paper I had turned in. I cringed in my seat at every word, and when it was done, I was relieved. It did make me excited that my teacher liked my paper, but then as she started reading the other papers, ones that read like poetry, I got discouraged.

I honestly don't think I'm the best writer. I'm decent, I suppose. I use good enough spelling and grammar and can make things sound pretty and interesting enough for people to read a little. But I'm not the best.

I dream of writing something great someday, not flimsy and generic. Something that will challenge people's thinking, and make them go "Wow!". But I don't ever believe I could actually, physically do it.

And I realized, as I was going over ^ this quote again and again in my mind, that the reason why I can't stand my writing is because my words are weak. My words are never full and powerful, my vocabulary is never stretched enough. My words are lightning bugs (or, as we call them in the midwest, "fireflies"). It's something I need to work on. To take Mark Twain's quote to heart and really make my writing bloom. :)

--a thought of mine whilst I've been absent


  1. That's a great quote.
    While I was reading this post, I couldn't help but think, "I'm pretty sure L. M. Montgomery, Jane Austen, and even SHAKESPEARE had these same thoughts". Keep going, girl :)

  2. Wow, I need to post that quote on my wall in huge letters. I always wonder why my writing is so generic and flimsy. It may have something with being a newbie writer, but I think if I payed better attention to the words than just the general idea of what I'm saying, it would come out a lot better. Good luck writing; with aspirations like that, you'll be an incredible writer.

  3. I like that quote. It provides a good illustration. And I know what you mean! Finding the right words can be hard. But while that's true, I also want to point out that it's the story that brings the impact. The word choice can help or hinder that and I'm sure prose can affect people's emotions on some level, but I always thought that it's the story and the people in it that really made something full and powerful.

    1. That is a very good point, Danielle. Thanks for sharing :)