When I sat down to do some writing tonight, I thought I'd get a little help from the various folks tweeting using the #amwriting hashtag. I asked for each person to give me their favorite verb, or the first one to come to mind. Only one generous soul offered; she gave me "Smooch." I was going to follow up by asking for a list of nouns, but one fellow had already tweeted "#amwriting shit" and "#amwriting gibberish," so I decided he was offering those before I'd even requested them. It seems the folks on #amwriting today are actually, well, writing, so I didn't get any other replies (yet). Instead, I scrolled through my own newsfeed and copied down two lists, the verbs and nouns that jumped out at me from each tweet. I avoided proper nouns, generally, but somehow two slipped through: "Starbucks" and "Shaq." If someone has a theory about why these two words seemed like common nouns, I'd love to hear it.
These lists turned out to be really fun to play with. As you scroll through them, you'll notice that a huge percentage of the words from either list can serve as both nouns or verbs. I placed them in the lists as they were used over the last few hours. Two words that made both lists ("Retweet" and "Google") were used both ways. Two others ("Fart" and "Sleep") were used once, but in such a way that I couldn't tell if they were being used as nouns or verbs. It's great English-teacher-geek-fun to plug each word into this formula and see how many work: A _______/ To ___________.
Also, as you read through the lists, your brain will naturally want to connect the words and make a story out of them. On the one hand, this is a marvelous demonstration of just how creative the human brain is. On the other hand, it illustrates the way we can deceive ourselves because we're compelled to create a narrative where none exists. These were all from different tweets, and even when two are connected, a reader couldn't possibly imagine how without context. For example, the noun "Dementor" is included because I follow a very funny person who tweets as though he is Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series. (Or maybe he really is. Who am I to judge?) But could you guess which of these words went with his tweet mentioning Dementors? Try to guess. Similarly, One of my verbs is "shampoo." Not only does it meet the aforementioned noun/verb test, but it was connected to a word on the noun list. Can you guess which one? I'll put the answers at the bottom.
I'm teaching a class on poetry a couple days a week for the Upward Bound Program, and I think I'll have them do an exercise with these lists. Feel free to use them, or the same activity, as you see fit. After all, these words aren't mine. Enjoy!
Answers: "Dementor" went with "Sluts", and "Shampoo" went with "Crotch".
"Dear Sluts, Nobody wants to see your public groping. The only way I'll support your PDA is if you're french kissing a dementor."
"'People who speak in mixed metaphors should shampoo my crotch' -- Jack Nicholson in the film As Good As It Gets"