Word Nerd Wednesday: Cool, Calm, and Collected

Welcome back to Word Nerd Wednesday! Today’s word story is about a delightful older gentleman named Mr. Rutherford.

Mr. Rutherford is a kind soul, polite and respectful. From his clothes to his demeanor, he is a full-fledged gentleman. He’s enjoying his retirement, spending his time reading and visiting nearby attractions that he didn’t have time to see before. Today he’s visiting a local art museum, appreciating a range of works from masters and emerging talent.

Suddenly, there’s a commotion in a corner of the museum. A younger man is moving quickly through the space. He sees Mr. Rutherford and a woman nearby.

“Go, lady! Exit, gent! Now!” he urges, just before pulling the fire alarm to evacuate the building. It turns out there’s a gas leak in the museum. (Don’t worry, emergency services arrive quickly, and no people or works of art are harmed.)

“Exit, gent!” = exigent (ECK-sih-gent), meaning urgent or needing immediate attention. Exigent circumstances are ones that require quick thinking and decisive action, like what the younger man in the museum demonstrated. These situations can be remarkably revealing, showing you who can handle a crisis.

Having been in a few emergency situations, I can tell you, you never know exactly who will keep their cool. It may surprise you who steps up when there’s a need, who thinks and reacts quickly, shouldering the burden of helping other people. Maybe that person is you. Maybe it’s someone you know.

Exigent situations are like a flashbulb moment. When that bright light goes off, it blinds some people and spurs others into action. I think we can all be grateful for the people who are equipped to handle exigent situations. This world will always need them.

Word Nerd Wednesday: The Place You Call Home

It’s Wednesday! That means the end of the week is in sight. All we have to do is hold on a little longer. And that also means it’s Word Nerd Wednesday! Today’s story is about a woman named Jennifer.

Jennifer grew up in a town she loved, a place called Demick, and she makes an effort to return often. She visits old friends, gets ice cream from her favorite shop, and visits all her favorites spots. But the one thing she loves the most about her hometown is the sunflowers everywhere she turns. It’s something Jennifer always imagines when she thinks about home: the sunflowers that grow in Demick.

“In Demick” = endemic (in-DIM-ick), meaning indigenous or characteristic of a certain area, either a physical region or a specific industry/field. It can refer to native plants/animals or describe diseases or other negative conditions plaguing a specific area, population, or field of study.

These endemic traits are particularly important to writers. When we write about a location or subject, we’re stepping into a very specific culture. And it is our responsibility to capture both the positive and negative characteristics respectfully and tactfully.

I grew up in NC, and I’ve personally experienced the powerful hurricanes that are endemic to the region. They’re part of the fabric of life there, but they also cause a lot of destruction and claim lives. Someone else who’s never seen the aftermath up close probably wouldn’t be able to capture it in the way I can.

It’s really the only time I actually like the tired adage “write what you know.” When it comes to capturing the nuanced traits of your specific culture, region, or career, who knows it better than you? So if you’re a writer, own your story and write about that place you call home.