A sign at the San Marcos River Bridge in Fentress, Texas, on the western boundary of Caldwell County, reads Gaudalupe County. That wouldn’t be worth mentioning, except that when you get across the bridge, you’re in Guadalupe County.
I assume the error arises from its similarity to words like gauge, gaunt, and gauze. In other words, the writer was thinking in English, not in Spanish: Guadalajara, Guadalupe Hidalgo, guacamole.
The excuse may be wishful thinking on my part, but since I retired, I’ve been kinder and gentler with misspellers in the hope they’ll be kinder and gentler with me. It’s a sad day when an English major has to admit this, but nearly every time I write gauge, I have to look it up to be sure.
Anyway, you know how it is with dictionaries: open one to find a word and ten minutes later you’re browsing, engrossed in a book that doesn’t have characters, much less a plot. That’s how I came across gnomist, defined as a writer of aphorisms.
Unable to imagine little red-capped garden dwellers channeling Benjamin Franklin, I checked Dictionary.com for gnome, and about half-way down the page found it: a gnome is a short, pithy saying of a general truth.
Which led me to my G topic: gnomes. (Franklin would say some of them aren’t gnomes, but they’re close.)
The the following come from one of my favorite books about writing–Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers.
If you have a skeleton in the closet, take it out and dance with it. ~ Carolyn MacKenzie
A hunch is creativity trying to tell you something. – Frank Capra
Imagination is a good horse to carry you over the ground–not a flying carpet to set you free from probability. ~ Robertson Davies
The opposite of a shallow truth is false. But the opposite of a deep truth is also true. ~ Niels Bohr
A writer should value his blockages. That means he’s starting to scale down, to get close. ~ Robert Pirsig
Each book is, in a sense, an argument with myself, and I would write it, whether it is ever published or not. ~ Patricia Highsmith.
Even if my marriage is falling apart and my children is unhappy, there is still a part of me that says, “God, this is fascinating!” ~ Jane Smiley
A computer allows you to make more mistakes faster than any other invention in human history, with the possible exceptions of handguns and tequila. ~ Mitch Ratcliffe
The form chooses you, not the other way around. An idea comes and is already embodied in a form. ~ Michael Frayne
You’ve got to be smart enough to write, and stupid enough not to think about all the things that might go wrong.~ Sarah Gilbert
People become writers because they can’t do things that bosses tell them to do. ~ Les Whitten
Keep away from people who belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you believe that you, too, can become great. ~ Mark Twain
People’s minds are changed through observation and not through argument. ~ Will Rogers
Whether you believe you can do a thing or not, you are right. ~ Henry Rod
If you would lift me, you must be on higher ground. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
It is certain that no culture can flourish without narratives of transcendent origins and power. ~ Neil Postman
My mother wanted us to understand that the tragedies of your life one day have the potential to be comic stories the next. ~ Nora Ephron
No passion in the world is equal to the passion to alter someone else’s draft. ~ H. G. Wells
In the sense that there was nothing before it, all writing is writing against the void. ~ Mark Strand
How do I work? I grope. ~ Albert Einstein
Sometimes it is more important to discover what one cannot do, than what one can do. ~ Lin Yutang
Walt Whitman didn’t sing as a white man or a gay man. He didn’t even sing as a living man, as opposed to a dead man. He made the human race look like a better idea. ~ Sharon Olds
One of the most wicked destructive forces, psychologically speaking, is unused creative power. . . . If someone has a creative gift and out of laziness, or for some other reason, doesn’t use it, the psychic energy turns to sheer poison. That’s why we often diagnose neuroses and psychotic diseases as not-lived higher possibilities. ~ Marie Louise Von Frantz
As much as I like the actual process of writing, there’s always a point, after a half hour, that I really love it. There’s a real lightness of imagination that you let happen when you’re writing. ~ Ethan Canin
I know life. I have had a full measure of experience. Shouldn’t I take advantage of it? These days my acts are the essence of what I have accomplished. The fruit is on the tree. Should I let it rot? ~ Victor Borge
The only way to write is to write today. ~ Susan Shaughnessy
Regarding the Gaudalupe County sign, it’s been there for years. At first it irritated me (twice a day), but as time went on, it became a source of amusement, something I needed both going to and coming from work. Still, as an official publication of the State of Texas, not to mention a source of information, it should be accurate. A friend called the agency a good while back and reported it, but it’s still there. Since my husband’s email brought about a positive result, I might ask him to take up the cause.
Susan Shaughnessy. Walking on Alligators: A Book of Meditations for Writers. Harper Collins, 1993.
I like this book so much I bought it twice. I bought it once, donated it to my library, and missed it so much I bought this used copy. Each meditation is headed by a quotation. Meditations are excellent, worth revisiting often, but the quotations are what I missed.
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Image of gnome by Melly95, via Pixabay.com
Image of Will Rogers, public domain, via Wikipedia