Author of WICKER PARK WISHES, a novel, published by Eckhartz Press "It's like 'Hi Fidelity' from a woman's perspective. A 90s book about relationships." - John Siuntres, WordBalloon. Language discussion and expression, a view from the city: "A fascinating and enlightening look at language and other important matters" - Rick Kogan, Chicago Tribune "...definitely an interesting voice!" - Languagehat.com "...a great site!" - Mary Beard, Times Literary Supplement
Japanese government internet TV
Impact is a verb
I guess it's because I'm one of those people who's been affected by "its frequent appearance in the jargon-riddled remarks of politicians, military officials, and financial analysts." I had a loathsome job where a boss kept using that word, and I thought they were trying to sound "modern" and "slick" because they were about appearance, but apparently they used the word correctly.
Check out the usage notes for contact: it was originally a noun, and "was initially frowned upon" when used as a verb. Which means that "impact" is legit, while "contact" is newly legit.
I think I'm gonna be sick
I've been lucky to meet some well-known people, and I currently work with someone who was quite popular on Chicago radio for years. In fact, when I mention his name (not to be a name-dropper but just because I work with him and see him every day), people smile and some are "impressed" though that's not what I'm going for.
One time I met someone whose stuff I'd read for a while, and it was the kind of content that made me laugh out loud and lifted my spirits, especially when I was doing tedious work. They're too well known for me to mention them here by name, but their success has gone to their head for sure. I sensed they could care less about me, so I didn't say much and was very polite, but that didn't matter--I was a nobody and didn't have hot looks to make up for it, so they were quite snobby and distant, and I don't read their stuff anymore. And there are other people I've met who are either successful and don't want to interact with non-successful people, or there are non-successful people who only want to meet people who "matter" to boost their image or whatever.
Anyway, Mary Beard is not like that at all, even though she's achieved a lot more than most people, and she also has a comfortable career that doesn't "require" her to be friendly or curious about anything outside her elite world.
Precious and cold
Who's buying fiction
The office in Japanese
I work with some folks who watch "The Office" (the American version), but I don't usually watch it because it doesn't seem that funny. This clip is funny, though, not only because they're speaking Japanese with odd accents while maintaining their Americanisms, but because it pokes fun at British humor as well (what Ricky Gervais says at the end). It's also funny to see how Westerners portray Japan (though I bet a well-informed person wrote the sketch, because it has some good Japanese details).
It still sounds negative
They're playing with words, but it still sounds negative: "gruntled" still has the sound of dissatisfaction about it, so I don't think that ad campaign is going to work.
I didn't watch the whole interview, just the part where he talks about writing ("chapter 5"), and he said what a lot of people say: make an outline. But for some reason, even though I've heard that advice many times before (usually from blockbuster authors who create thrillers, mysteries, etc.), his emphasis was pretty convincing.
I think I haven't followed that advice because I'm not writing a thriller or anything like that, though I'm definitely not writing "literary" fiction, but I will probably create an outline because it makes sense.
When Grisham was working on his first book with an editor, he had to get rid of hundreds of pages and change the rest (which made me wonder how he got a publisher in the first place, and how it's "unfair" that he didn't write stellar stuff and still got into the Publishing Industrial Complex), which convinced him that an outline would reduce the amount of throw-away material.
So I've been reading about how three-act stories break down, and I feel more sane. I've written complete drafts, but I always have to go back and fix a lot of it or get rid of it altogether. I'm still tempted to write whatever and meander down a path, but I think structure will help keep me on track and finish something that might see the light of day one century.
Like and go
They also have a list of other annoying words, including the "Most cheapened cherished word: Awesome; a C+ on an algebra test is mediocre, not awesome. Dude."
I remember when "awesome" became popular in the 80's, especially with the whole Valley Girl thing (there are still valley girls because the San Fernando Valley around L.A. still exists). I agree it's been cheapened: the Grand Canyon used to be awesome, and other stuff was "cool" or whatever, but now everything is "awesome." And I'm guilty of using that word too, though I sort of joke around with it, or I use it in a light way.
I gave in
UPDATE: I can't take it anymore--her writing has a lot of subject-verb constructions, and seems like TV. And her voice is so arrogant and smug--too annoying to continue on. So I've stopped reading it. I don't care about her, and now I don't care about her writing about her.
(Side note: when I was reading the article, the woman seemed American, due to her drive, straightforward manner, and the fact that her wedding planning business was successful, and I was right--sort of: she spent many years in the U.S. when she was growing up, so no wonder I sensed the American "vibe". I'd love to hear her accent :D)
I think I know what my problem is
"Finding your voice" is an overused and vague phrase, and I used to not think it was as important as plot or other stuff, but now I've realized it is. I think I had that attitude because it sounded so fake: "find your voice." And it seemed impossible, and part of some requirement for writing like 100 years ago, when fiction didn't have to be so hyper-commercial to succeed.
But I've noticed in different creative mediums that people hit their stride when they find their voice, whether they're singers, painters, writers, musicians, radio talent, or anything that requires a person to dig deep within themselves to share their craft with the world. I've been able to spot and develop a voice in non-fiction writing, but for some reason, I didn't want to accept that I needed to hone it in fiction until I started feeling fake about what I was writing.
So today I worked on the story, and anytime I felt like I was being fake, I got to the "truth" by getting to my "voice". But the problem is, I still haven't settled on a voice, so I have to keep working at it.
I looked it up at Merriam-Webster and expected them to have just "my" pronunciation, but they have both! Check it out--they have audio samples of each.
So the question is: is there a "correct" way to pronounce it, and if not, then why are there two ways?
The right decision
Some of the American actors faked British accents, and while they weren't perfect (as is usually the case, though I don't know personally because I'm not British, but can recognize a bad British accent when I hear it), I was glad to see that Ted Danson (who did a great job) did not try to speak with one. I was surprised, since actors always seem to attempt it, but I accepted he was British because that was his character. Which just goes to show that you don't need to speak with a certain type of accent (especially if you're going to butcher it) when you're playing a character from another culture. Well, it'd be good to have an accent, but only if it's convincing. Otherwise, a bad accent is distracting.