No pink slime in this post! No, HONEST!

We are growing a Victory Garden this summer, for sure. It’s raining like Seattle out there and has been for a couple of days now. I filled the courtyard with blooming things just before it started. I need to find someone who raises chickens so we can get eggs. Then the grocery store can keep all its pink slime and wood filler.

Still waiting to hear from the nice writer/editor/pro who is going to (in fulfillment of an auction pledge) read the first 10K of MIRANDA’S RIGHTS. She said she’d get to it this week. I’m sure she’s dreading it and putting it off as a chore, as most would be, but I’m dreading it even more. Of course what I hope for is to be told there is a market for such books, but I don’t really think there IS any more. Perhaps there is something good in the work that she’ll say something nice about because she IS a nice person and has been kind in her dealings with me so far.

But I figure that within a couple of pages she found it insufferable . . . fey and twee . . . too arch . . . or something. We’ve discussed before that I have voice issues (people don’t like it and they want to edit it out)–the only person online who seems to know what I mean is Hal Duncan, who mentions several things on his blog:

“Voice makes character. For the purposes of this post, we’re not talking voice as in, “He’s found his voice,” but rather narrative voice, the degree to which idiosyncratic features of an articulation cohere and conjure a persona behind the words, cast it as an articulation of and by someone.
“When I say that voice makes character, note that this is not the same as saying that character requires voice. It’s simply saying that well-made prose can be engaging not just in terms of dynamics but because it generates a sense of the viewpoint character, brings them to life in the very lexis and syntax.”

This, this!! This is why, when April says something in APRIL, MAYBE JUNE, because it is inside her close-in intimate first person thinking cap, April might say, “He sounded like one of those radio preachers begging for money to support his broadcasting habit,” instead of the more succinct “He sounded desperate” that many critique groups advocate or insist on.

He says, later on in the post:

“[word choice/diction while describing an event helps to] reveal the core of the PoV character experiencing that event. And ultimately to do that you need to apply that incision not just in writing but in reading, in life. Voice makes character because the nuances of how one articulates oneself in the real world are manifestations of character. Voice is the use of a verb like “flocking” as regards immigrants that might speak of xenophobia or outright racism. Voice is the use of “goshdarn” that might reveal primness or diffidence or just habit formed in upbringing.”

*sobbing* Yes! I am not (always) doing this sort of thing consciously. Often it is instinctively. Often I just hear Tatyana or Daphne or her boss Barry in my head and I know how they talk. When I’m scribbling from a close intimate point of view, I might use a vocabulary that isn’t my typical thing or the reader’s typical thing, and SO MANY SO-CALLED READERS have been taught to exit and write, “This word threw me out of the story.” To which I am not allowed to reply, “What? You were never taught, when you were learning to read, that you should get the meaning from the context and look it up later to see how close you were and what the connotations/denotation(s) of the word are? Then increase your reading comprehension.” Because the Market does not like words it does not already know, sigh. That is the common “wisdom.”

Yet sometimes a word like “antediluvian” is required, or even “whoopensocker” (a Wisconsin localism for “a real doozie, a biggie, especially a strong drink or extreme hottie of a person” that should be figure-outable from the context it is used in.) A Biblical professor might write “before the Flood,” or might be so inured to speaking to other scholars that “antediluvian” falls off his lips easily, like those little tobacco grains that my mother used to spit out when she smoked those disgusting ciggie things that have now given her COPD and asthma. The editors of the world want you to take all these phrases out and just “write it normal.” This guy thinks you aren’t insane if you “write it differently.”

He even refers to the “anecdotal” voice, the “raconteur” voice, and a “mannered narrator.” I have long searched for terms with which to describe certain devices I was using on purpose. These work.

He has a book, apparently. I will be getting it. (Irony off! I know he has a bunch of books out.)

But the blog is very cool.

Please, PLEASE, go read his rules for writers if you are a fictioneer, aspire to publish fiction, or critique stuff for people. It will give you insight as to why I (and I use myself as a bad example because I can discuss myself without insulting anyone, ha) write things the way I do. I have never encountered anyone else who could put these things into words, or who even believed on a conscious level that these things are valid ways to build the tribal lays. No, no, Pamela and a few others have understood that it is OK to write things in voice, but we’ve never put it into words this way. The MAJORITY of agents/critters will not “get” this and will try to make you write in the No-Style Style, the vanilla way. “Why say that her pimples shone forth on her chin like traffic cones? No one knows what that means, and they can’t be in reality the same shade of orange. Just write “she had pimples” or that “red bumps tracked down her cheeks.” (an example of what critique people pick up on in my work, never something like a plot problem or why the stuff can’t sell)

But anyway, go read it before it gets buried in later posts. I wish I could meet this person. If he is real, then he can think in a manner that wouldn’t rule out my work. I wish there were more people like him.

Oh, and elsewhere on that blog, Hal Duncan also mentions that books can have voices of their own–the viewpoint character’s voice–as well as having the typical sound of that author (“sounds like Hal”). This is an aspect of my work that many people have commented on. It’s one reason that I wanted to send the editor 5K of one book and 5K of another, so she wouldn’t think that I always wrote in the Miranda style (the April book is pretty different), but she said she couldn’t tell anything about a book from just 5K, so I had to send all Miranda. We’ll see.

I’ve also run across a blog by an editor who says that older authors can’t properly promote their work because they get tired too quickly and can’t travel, so she will consider the author’s age and health when considering a work. I don’t see what that has to do with the quality or readability of the work, and I think she’s going to miss out. There’s another editor blogging today about how you must always cut out everything you can, but his examples remove voice from the sentences. Even his comments section objects to his extremist position. What a mess is today’s publishing industry.

At least most books are free of pink slime and transglutaminase! Unlike your friendly neighborhood hamburger! Get ’em while they’re hot off the presses.

(Soylent pink is peeeeeepul . . . but only the stinky ones.)


Author: shalanna

Shalanna: rhymes with "Madonna" and "I wanna," and is not a soundalike with "Hosanna" or "Sha-Na-Na." Aging hippie with long hair, husband, elderly mother, and yappy Pomeranian. I've been writing since I could hold a crayon. I started with fiction, which Mama said was "lying." “Don’t tell stories,” she would admonish, in Southern vernacular. “That's all in your imagination!” When grownups said this, they were not approving. So, shamed, I stopped telling stories for a few years--rather, I stopped letting anyone read them. I'm married to a fellow computer nerd who doesn't really like hearing about writing, but who reads sf/fantasy and understands the creative drive. I'm actually a nonconformist/hippie still wearing bluejeans and drop earrings and the Alice-in-Wonderland hair with headbands and sandals. Favorite flavor is chocolate/orange, favorite color is either Dreamsicle orange (cantaloupe) or bubble-gum pink, favorite musical is either Bye Bye Birdie, Rocky Horror, or The Producers . . . wait, I also love The Music Man. Is this getting way too specific and irrelevant yet? Obvious why I don't sell a ton of flash fiction, isn't it? To define oneself, I always say, it is good to make a list. How about a booklist? Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth, Cheaper by the Dozen C.S.Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (all the Narnia books) J.R.R.Tolkien,The Hobbit/LORD OF THE RINGS trilogy Gail Godwin, The Odd Woman F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby J. D. Salinger, Catcher in the Rye (before dismissing it, actually read it) George Orwell, 1984 Kurt Vonnegut, Cat's Cradle Donna Tartt, The Secret History Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn James Allen, As A Man Thinketh Mark Winegardner, Elvis Presley Boulevard James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times The Wizard of Oz, L. Frank Baum Winnie-the-Pooh/House at Pooh Corner, A. A. Milne Peter Pan, J. M. Barrie The KJV and NIV Bible (each translation has its glories)

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