Words have more impact than you can imagine. Petra Thomas already realized this when she was a child. Later on, words would become her life and livelihood. First as a speech-language therapist, then as a ‘word’ teacher at the Academy of Tienen, where the spoken word is made tangible in the form of drama and narrative theatre. Since a few years ago Petra writes about everything and nothing on her blog ‘Niemen(d)alletjes’. And each and every time she hits the spot. A glance inside of the life of this professional coffee drinker, doubter and wonderful wordener.
Ever since her childhood Petra has been captivated by words. She started out writing little verses and poems when she was six, read thick books in the garden under the magnolia tree and rode her bike with fully loaded bags to the library two villages away. And frankly she never ceased to do this. So many years later, she considers writing to be the ‘gathering of words’. “When I write, it seems something takes over. I float in some sort of parallel universe and forget time. It more than often happens that my coffee turns cold. Cold coffee always has been a good sign,” Petra says with a smile.
Musing Monologues, 10 works, 101 words, 1 story.
Writing has something crafty to it
Petra sees, listens and absorbs everything around her. A beautiful story, a beautiful sentence, a well-chosen word that sticks. She writes it down and uses it later in a text. “When I am very restless, I find the access to my pen much harder. However, if I am not writing, something feels off. A day she’s writing, is always a better day. And if she succeeds it’s awesome.
“I built writing into my morning routines: before I start my day, I will write for half an hour to ‘get into the day’. Sometimes it looks like the words find me, instead of me finding the words. Words have a habit to search for each other and find each other.” That sounds much easier than it actually is.
The process of writing doesn’t always flow. It’s more often a lot of trial and error. Writing a lot, deleting, cutting and pasting. Puzzling and refining until everything fits completely. “In this light, writing is a craft.”
Art by post
Reading Petra’s work, one will soon notice she is sensitive to details and symbolism. Her writing reveals the way she looks at the world, shows she loves people and how gladly she observes people. Look, there she does it again. She not only does it when she writes. I notice it while she talks: everything Petra says is in some way thought out. Is it because she, as no other, knows what a word or its absence, means?
“Actually I have a love-hate relationship with words. On the one hand words are precious, they make the intangible tangible and provide the surface a new, different reality. On the other hand I see and experience their shortcomings. More often it’s the combination of words, instead of the meaning of one word, which evokes or expresses an emotion. Words need each other.”
The written word
Petra’s passes her love for words, and their power on every day. Among others at home to her two gorgeous daughters, at the Academy, but mostly through all her writings.
If I had to choose, I choose the written word. Because words are allowed to sit inside your head, and don’t always need to be said. Not every text is speakable, however every text is readable.
Since a few years this lady chooses explicitly for herself and the written word. She learned to do this by trial and error. And there she sits, stronger, and still as warm and integer like I always have known her. Fortunately. Petra is skilled in finding and seeing the small things. It’s good to know that they are given the right to exist through her pen and words.