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  • Writer's pictureCatherine

What's a Wordsmith?

February 2015. I’m side-stage, getting my microphone and mic-pack taken off so they can be given to the next cast member who needs them because I had delivered my dramatic, super important, singular line in a production of Aladdin Jr. “Someone stole my bread!”


But the point of this isn’t my incredible acting debut. The point is that as the master of the microphones, Mrs. Donna, unhooked the pack from my costume, she asked me a simple question: Are you going to audition for the improv team?


Now, I had only just completed my first ever semester of improvisational acting lessons under Mrs. Donna’s tutelage. Also know that 2015 Catherine was very different from today’s Catherine. In 2015 I was shy, awkward without embracing it, but had a knack for wordplay and a desire to learn how to put myself out there.


Improv team was something I had heard of and thought I might want to try out for, but surely I wouldn’t make it. Surely, this theatre group had more talented people to fill those spots.


So when the improv teacher & team coach herself asked me if I was going to audition, it rocked my world. How could I say no?


Long story short: I made it onto the team.


On that team, each member gained a title & a role that signified our strengths and how we, within our team, could be relied on for various types of improv and different games. My role & title?


Mrs. Donna christened me as Wordsmith. I understood words. How to rhyme them. How to work them in rhythms. How to put one in my head and soon create a spiral or a web of associations for hilarious moments where you had to be able to make a series of connections with me to get the joke - but if you did, it was the greatest thing since sliced bread.


Wordsmith: A skilled user of words.


It became more than just my role in this troupe and the next year’s troupe, it became part of my identity. Something I could look at inside myself and say “I am a Wordsmith; I know words,” in the same way I can look at myself and say “I am tall. I have height.”


So a few years later when Little reached out and subsequently held the first meeting for this fledgling Catholic writer’s group, it brought me back side-stage to that moment where I was seen by someone in a way I hadn’t ever anticipated. I had thought about wanting to share my writing with more than my two closest friends at the time. I had wanted to find a way to get involved in the literary world. But I couldn’t do it without that push; I couldn’t do it without that nudge that said ‘try this out and see.’


Well, I tried it out and saw. it wasn’t for my puns and wordplay, but for the love of the craft of writing and the world that lived inside my head.


And everyone in this group had in common what had set me apart in the improv troupes: a love for crafting with words.


At the end of that first meeting, it was decided we’d do this again. But we needed a name for ourselves and I suggested one that I loved and wanted to share with a group of similar people:


Wordsmiths.


Not the ones who garner laughs and impress on a stage with cleverness and wit, but ones who craft and build with skillful usage of words to paint pictures in the theater of the mind.


I was a Wordsmith in 2015 when we competed nationally in Improv in California.

I am a Wordsmith today who crafts with words to build worlds of whimsy and wonder.


Mrs. Donna didn’t know, still might not know, how much that little interaction sidestage meant to me. I hope Little knows how much that invitation she sent meant to me, and still means to me. I’ve taken both of their words to heart and continue to wordsmith everyday. It means something new now to me - and yet it still calls me back to the first time I heard it.


Being a wordsmith meant I had to put myself out there, try new things, and embrace who I am. As a wordsmith in improv, I was taught how to embrace my awkwardness and my ways with words to bring joy and laughter to the stage. As a wordsmith with the Wordsmiths, I’ve learned how to use my words to better craft a tale and to encourage others to do the same.

Because at the heart of the matter, what is a wordsmith?


Wordsmiths are those who take little squiggles we call “letters” and sounds we call “words” and use them to cause castles and planets to form, where tales familiar are made new again with a fresh perspective and a new set of hands on the keys.


Consider this your invitation to put yourself out there and use your words to create something beautiful. Something unique. Something you, that no one else can.


Worried you’re not good enough? That’s no excuse. You have words to say, to write, use them!


Need even more encouragement? Well, this week we’re running Wordapalooza on our Discord Server! It’s a week of writing without fear of quality or caring about how much sense it makes, just putting words on the page. Join us. You are a storyteller. A writer. A game master. A creator of content - and maybe, too, a weaver of worlds from words.


Give yourself the freedom to remember why you create: because you, too, have a story to tell.


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