Word Two: Virgule


This was my word of the week.

The definition of a virgule (from the French – mais bien sûr; le Français, il est la seule langue civilisée, n’est-ce pas?) is a thin sloping line, used as a comma or space. It originates from the Latin virgula “punctuation mark”: literally, “little twig,” a diminutive of virga: “shoot, rod, stick.”

It’s used on the interwebs (look, above you – there it is, in your browser, slash slash!). It’s used all over the place; it’s where you least expect it.

What fascinates me, though, is its timeliness, and its literal root.

Little twig.

Wednesday. I saw my spine in an x-ray. It looked like a virga, a shoot, a rod, a stick. But the rod was somehow chipped away at, as with a stone saint’s extremities after faithful pilgrims have taken one too many liberties visiting his or her shrine. As a result, the virga was less than pristine, and many virgules, in nibblingly fierce commas and slashes of pain, tension, and stress, were typeset into my vertebrae.

Punctuation had been provided on my inner structure, whether I had requested the dread red pen of revision or not.

I don’t remember asking for a sub-editor, so I am going to go with not.

I was e-mailing a fellow writer earlier, and talking about depression. Obviously, this view of my spine, and what it meant, did not exactly fill me with joy/make me gambol like a lamb around the room (which as you may be able to tell, is a current physical impossibility). Because this is not even the illness I want to talk and educate about. This is another pile of shittiness heaped upon current shittiness.

This is DEFSHIT 1.

But I said something to them which I meant, and I continue to mean. I hope they don’t mind me repeating it, as it’s about myself, not them. And it is highly relevant to this entire 100 words idea, and what writing it will hopefully help me do.

I was quoting the man in black talking to a certain Gunslinger (yeah, you know who I mean). I said:

Where the world ends is where you must begin.

It is when things go all to hell, when the odds are no longer in your favour, and when the painkiller bottle, or the razor, or the weapon of mad choice calls – or when you are simply bored of the pain and the shit and being tired, tired, tired, tired… and sad.

So sad.

That’s when you must begin.

That’s the strength. And I get it. I do. Because two days ago, when I saw that almost half my spine had gone bollocks-up, I screamed “I don’t want to do this anymore”. And I cried, and I begged my husband to let me go (NB: not happening, he says, applying his own red pen), and I screamed it, and I cried, for nearly twelve hours straight.

And then I slapped myself in the face – literally – and I began. Even though the world had seemingly ended.

But I did use my word of the day in practice, rather than theory.

Did you notice?