I, too, like words
Updated: Jun 17
I can't remember how old I was when I first read Robert Pirosh's iconic letter, but I remember how it made me feel. It sort of blew my mind - I didn't realise that other people loved words the way that I did, the way they sound and look and can make you feel excited or sad or a million other things.
Ever since I first read 'I like words' as a teenager, it's been one of my all-time favourite pieces of writing. Most copywriters worth their salt will know this piece fairly well, but lots of writers have never encountered it before, which is a real shame.
This letter, written by a young Robert Pirosh in 1934 and sent to a number of studio executives in Hollywood, is an incredible effective piece of writing. A true testament to the power of words, all it took was this incredible letter to land Pirosh several interviews and a job writing for MGM. He later went on to win an Academy Award and a Golden Globe - and he got his start solely through expressing his love of words.
Here it is, in full, for your reading pleasure.
I like words. I like fat buttery words, such as ooze, turpitude, glutinous, toady. I like solemn, angular, creaky words, such as straitlaced, cantankerous, pecunious, valedictory. I like spurious, black-is-white words, such as mortician, liquidate, tonsorial, demi-monde. I like suave “V” words, such as Svengali, svelte, bravura, verve. I like crunchy, brittle, crackly words, such as splinter, grapple, jostle, crusty. I like sullen, crabbed, scowling words, such as skulk, glower, scabby, churl. I like Oh-Heavens, my-gracious, land’s-sake words, such as tricksy, tucker, genteel, horrid. I like elegant, flowery words, such as estivate, peregrinate, elysium, halcyon. I like wormy, squirmy, mealy words, such as crawl, blubber, squeal, drip. I like sniggly, chuckling words, such as cowlick, gurgle, bubble and burp.
I like the word screenwriter better than copywriter, so I decided to quit my job in a New York advertising agency and try my luck in Hollywood, but before taking the plunge I went to Europe for a year of study, contemplation and horsing around.
I have just returned and I still like words.
May I have a few with you?
Robert Pirosh 385 Madison Avenue Room 610 New York Eldorado 5-6024' And there it is - one of my all-time favourite pieces of writing, and I'm sure you can see why. As a writer, it's so important to seek inspiration and learning from other writers, and few things speak to me like the frank, straightforward style of this letter - Pirosh's unbridled enthusiasm and creativity shines through with every word.
I hope I've reminded some of you of this amazing piece of writing today, and perhaps introduced someone to it for the first time.