Tag Archives: language

Write is Right by Dellani Oakes


 I’m the first to admit that I can’t spell. If it weren’t for spell check, the greatest invention in the modern age, I’d never get anything written. Next best, on-line dictionaries, because now I don’t have guess every time I can’t spell a word. If I misspell a word when looking it up, the program will ask me if I mean…. And it gives me suggestions.

I misspell stupid things—anything with IE or EI, will always be reversed. Fortunately, the computer notices and changes it for me. Yay! Necessary. Camouflage. Bureaucrat. These are examples of words I frequently misspell. There are others, but I am most consistently wrong with these. I can usually get through necessary, but I have to spell it to myself as I go. I can’t just type or write it.

When I was a teenager, I had an extensive vocabulary. With a college English professor for a father and an elementary school teacher for a mother, how could I not? Unfortunately, I couldn’t spell the extensive vocabulary and had to rely on much more basic things. When I asked my English teacher about it, he told me to “Look it up.” “But how,” I asked. “Can I look it up if I don’t know how to spell it?” No one ever had a good explanation. It took me years to learn that if it wasn’t under the spelling I thought, that was wrong, I had to try something else. Tedious process. Again, thank god for spell check and on-line dictionaries!

I finally cracked down and put my mind toward spelling better when my English teacher, Mr. Frakes, gave me back a paper that said: “For story and content A. For mechanics F.” Much embarrassed, I decided that perhaps spelling did matter. It was a long process, and it only partially took, but I have finally gotten more conversant with spelling. I had thought of writing this piece, leaving the typos in, but decided that made me look way stupider than I was willing to look and I corrected them. I’m all for window dressing, but that would have been a little much.

I was grateful to Mr. Frakes for teaching me something else with that one message. That was to be as fair to my students as possible. I adopted that method of grading when I became a teacher, because I had some brilliant students who couldn’t spell their way out of a wet paper sack. One even bought a “Bad Speller’s Dictionary” only to find that his misspellings were so messed up, they weren’t in there. My heart went out to him. I felt his pain! More than once, he’d hand in a paper with the same word spelled three or four different ways, all wrong. I asked him about it once.

“I figured if I tried it different ways, one of them would be right.”

Sadly, he was completely wrong in that assumption. Somehow, he defied the laws of averages and statistics, defied the gods of grammar and still managed to mess it up completely. I lost track of him once he graduated. I hope he, like I, learned to spell and that he can find compassion in his heart for others the way I had compassion for him.


In addition to writing, Dellani Oakes is a prominent host on Blog Talk Radio.

Fush and Chups! How to speak like a Kiwi!

fush and chups

Aloha and Kia ora everyone,

In light of my new book just released on St Paddy’s Day ~Hawaiian Lei ~ the first book in The Hawaiians series, I thought it might be fun to talk about a subject fellow Muse It Up author, Ken Hicks suggested. He asked whether “flat tack” was a Kiwi or Hawaiian phrase. Then Monya Clayton, another Muse author contributed the “flat out like a lizard drinking” Australian saying. Thanks Ken (a Yank) and Monya (an Aussie.) J

We Kiwis and the Aussies avoid using proper words AT ALL TIMES. LOL.

No, we New Zealanders are not named after the small, round, brown, fuzzy fruit. J We’re named after our national bird, THE Kiwi. A small(ish,) round, brown, fuzzy bird. It’s about the size of a chook(chicken,) flightless, and riddled with fleas! As national symbols go, it’s not up there with the mighty American eagle, but we’re terribly proud of it anyway.

It represents New Zealand’s uniqueness well. Stuck at the bottom of the world, largely cut off for years, we’ve developed our own language and culture. We’re similar to the Aussies, but not quite the same… Like New Zealand, their culture is largely influenced by immigrants from the UK but also Europeans that came out in large numbers in the fifties and sixties.

New Zealand though has a native New Zealand Maori background, giving us a Polynesian mix in our culture. It’s only recently that Australia has started to give more acknowledgement to the native people of Australia—the Aborigine and it hasn’t influenced the culture as strongly.

So, our national symbol—THE Kiwi bird is as unique as we are.

It has external nostrils on its long bill to sniff out food. Belonging to the ratite family, it’s the smallest member which includes ostriches and emus. Its eggs are HUGE and the male does most of the incubating and egg sitting. Despite a stroppy (volatile, pissed off) relationship between them, Mum and Dad Kiwi bird are monogamous and live in pairs, mating mostly for life. But the woman bird wears the pants—she’s bigger and dominates the male. No wonder New Zealand was the first country in the world to give women the vote!

Our culture and character is unique and I bring these differences to my books when I write my Kiwi and American characters. I recently started a part-time job where I’m on the phones helping customers. Because I’m learning, I often have to put them on hold to ask my supervisor what the hell I’m doing. LOL. And unbeknown to the poor customer, I can hear their comments in the background, while I’m fossicking around (trying to work out where the bloody info is I need.) (Fossick – find.)

They like my accent, but can’t always work out where it’s from. I’ve heard I’m sexy, cute, Irish, Australian… “She says wee.” “She said, ‘Just a tick.” When a customer manages to hit New Zealand, I think I should give them a special prize. LOL. It’s also made me acutely aware of how strong my accent still is and how many Kiwisms, idioms, phrases and words I use without being aware of it.

Monya reminded me we all use “flat out” but they also use “flat out like a lizard drinking,” and “flat strap.” 🙂

Flat out like a lizard drinking:

Extremely busy, at top speed. Working hard. This is a word play on two different meanings of the standard English “flat out.” The literal sense is to lie fully stretched out (like a lizard,) and the figurative sense means as fast as possible. The phrase also alludes to the rapid tongue-movement of a drinking lizard. It is sometimes shortened, as in “we’re flat out like a lizard trying to meet the deadline.”

This was from http://andc.anu.edu.au/australian-words/meanings-origins

Yes, how that is shortened, I’m not sure. It’s one of those weird idiosyncrasies of Australasian English. We like shortening words and if we can’t do that—we lengthen them instead. J We have convos, bizzos, arvos and cuppas.

“So, I said, look mate, if you want to have a decent convo about this bizzo, too right. We can have a cuppa this arvo, then have some tea down the pub. Ring bugalugs and see if he’ll be around. Last time I saw him, he looked like he’d been pulled through a gorse bush backwards. He might’ve have been a wee bit crook. We can put the jug on and rustle up some biccies too if you’re lucky…”

Right. So I hope you were all keeping up with that conversation. The number of times I use expressions and everyone looks blankly at me is quite funny.

What was just said:

“I said, look mate (friend or just a general male person,) if you want to have a decent (good) convo (conversation) about this bizzo (business, matter to be discussed,) too right. (I agree.) We can have a cuppa (cup of tea) this arvo, (afternoon,) then have some tea (dinner, not the stuff you drink and we only drink black tea generally with milk and sugar) down the pub, (at the hotel or bar). Ring bugalugs (general name for someone, could be a friend or just a general person) and see if he’ll be around. Last time I saw him, he looked like he’d been pulled through a gorse bush backwards. (He looked unkempt, or scruffy.) He might have been a wee bit crook. (unwell, ill.) We can put the jug on (electric kettle to boil water. The moment you walk in the door in anyone’s house in NZ, they say, “I’ll just put the jug on.” You’ll be expected to have a cup of tea or coffee.) and rustle up some biccies (short for biscuits, which are cookies) too if you’re lucky…”

Here’s a Kiwi slang page. https://englishlanguagehelp.info/kiwi-slang/kiwi-slang-f/. Change the letter at the end for the rest of the alphabet.

As well as talking nineteen to the dozen—we talk very fast! We then have short vowel sounds or arbitrarily miss some out altogether. Our accent marks are in different locations sometimes. LOL.

Batteries for the Americans are Batt-ter-ries. We say Batt-ries.

Pro-duce in the States is prod-uce in New Zealand.

To-may-to, To-ma-to… let’s work the whole thing out. J

On top of this incomprehensible list of sayings, we have a distinct accent. Yes, we do sound like the Aussies (and that’s Oz-zees… not Oss-sees) but our accents are subtlety different. J The Australians have a more nasally sound while ours is flat and monotone.

They say feesh and cheeps. We say fush and chups.

Yes, we do get a bit “thingee” being mistaken for Aussies even though we are similar. But no we don’t hate them—only when they beat us in rugby. And especially if the All Blacks—our international rugby team—are playing. It’s our national religion in New Zealand and is taken very, Very, VERY seriously. However, if the Wallabies (the Aussie international rugby team) are playing against the English or Springbok, (the South Africans) we support them. It’s terribly complicated. J

The New All Blacks do a Maori haka before every game, as do most Kiwi sports teams now. 🙂 It’s a challenge to the other team. Ka mate, ka mate, roughly means “to the death” and variations of dying. It means they will fight to the death.

We don’t really don’t mean it in general. In rugby? Well… J There’s a lot of good-natured ribbing back and forth between the two nations. Not all our words are the same though. One that’s different is “dag.”

If you say someone’s “a bit of a dag,” in NZ, it means they’re funny, a bit of a character.

In Australia, it means they’re not that nice or a bit of a drongo. (Idiot)Dags are the fecal matter that sticks to sheep’s wooly bums. (backsides, butts) Not that complimentary if you think about it. Lol. You’ll also hear “rattle your dags,” in Australia, meaning to get a move on.

Whereas our dag comes from a comedian in NZ called Fred Dagg who took the mickey out of farmers and farming things. He was a scream.

Right… so I hope you’re all keeping up! There’ll be a quiz at the end of this blog. J We “take the mickey” (tease or rib) out of all sorts of things. We’re quite irreverent and anything is fair game.

On my first trip to Australia, I insulted lots of the Aussies. When someone asked me, so what do you think of so and so. I’d say, “Yeah, they’re a bit of a dag.”

The Aussies would look a bit startled. “Really? You really think so.”

And I’d enthusiastically say, “Yes, yes, a real dag.”

Thus making things even worse… I couldn’t work out their puzzled looks. It wasn’t until I got to the end of my trip (of course) that I realized I’d insulted half of Australia when my uncle explained the two meanings.

Oops. Sorry!! 🙂

So, back to our original thing Ken asked about. Flat out…

It’s suggested it came from the dawn of the motor car where you had your foot “flat out” to the floorboards and you’d be going “like the clappers.” (very fast.) Or a horse race where the rider lies flat against the horse, cutting down the aerodynamic effects. Possibly that’s where flat tack comes from. Flat to the tack?? (Horse tack or tackle possibly.) Not sure.

You can be flat out racing. “Going like the clappers.” (Fast).

Flat out broke. Not a cent to your name.

Flat out indignant—absolutely indignant.

It tends to heighten what is going on. Flat out brilliant—really brilliant.

We used to tell people “ladies a plate—men a crate.” The men would bring beer that used to come in big bottles in a crate. Many a poor woman turned up with an empty plate—not realizing it meant bring something yummy to eat on a plate to share, often baking.  

And we’re a wee bit fierce about our baking and sweeties.

Our national dessert – the Pavlova! Now the Aussies reckon it’s their dessert. They DID name it. It was named after Anna Pavlova the ballet dance. BUT fierce and intensive NON-BIASED research suggests the Kiwis made it first as a ‘Meringue cake.’ The Aussies will kill me for this. 🙂

We also do the Hokey Pokey!! No, not the dance, but the confectionary. LOL.

Hokey Pokey is a New Zealand institution. As we say in the old country ~ World Famous in New Zealand! Honeycomb candy that it put in everything we can think of. Fabulous in ice cream!! I love it!

I have never figured out EXACTLY where this comes from but somewhere in the UK, brought out with the people that immigrated to New Zealand in the 1840’s. A long way from anywhere, they had to largely fend for themselves and “Kiwi Ingenuity” was born.

KIwi Ingenuity” is a unique part of our culture. It means we can fix just about anything “with a piece of number eight fencing wire.” We are young European wise and still have a large pioneering spirit on board. Being on the other side of the world, far from anywhere (even Australia – 3 and 1/2 hours away by modern aircraft) we had to “make do,” often making things ourselves out of what was available. This fierce independence lives on today in Kiwi Culture. We pride ourselves on it.

Our Kiwi culture includes lots of funny wee sayings.

If you’re doing anything for Africa, it means you’re doing a lot of it. “She was shopping for Africa.” “They were partying for Africa.” It’s applied to all sorts of things. 🙂

They’re “a wee bit feral.” (Often refers to someone’s ‘darling’ offspring) meaning they’re out of control and a wee bit on the wild side.

If someone is “as mad as a meataxe.” They’re bonkers (slightly nuts, not dangerous, but just slightly unhinged or odd.)

And if something is “as silly as a two bob watch.” That refers to something that’s a wee bit ridiculous. A two bob watch was something pretty cheap and nasty and cost two bob, (in old currency before we went to metric, dollars and cents.) Given it was so cheap, it was unreliable and did silly things like not keep time correctly, slowing down or speeding up.

Some of our sayings have deep English, Scottish and Irish roots and you’ll hear them in the American South as well. “As slow as a wet week”(it’s taking ages and is dragging) or “like a month of Sundays.” (A very long time.)

My speech has the Scottish “wee” in it as all Southern New Zealanders do from the South Island. When the Scottish immigrated to New Zealand, they brought their delightful accent with them. They started out in Dunedin in the far south of the South Island and the wee has spread up the whole island for some reason. Even my dad who’s an Aucklander and Northerner originally, uses the wee now in his speech.

We get stroppy when we’re angry. And throw wobblies and berkies.(temper tantrums.)

We swear a lot more than Americans and are a largely secular country—using words like god, Christ, good lord has no real religious meaning. It’s just a set of words that gives emphasis.

We use bloody and bugger a lot—in all sorts of circumstances. They’re mild inoffensive swear words, that have multi-purpose meanings. It’s like saying damn or darn in the States.

“That bugger of a mongrel ate the bloody leg of lamb for tea.”

(“That darn dog ate the damn leg of lamb for dinner.”)

Things can be buggered (they don’t work.)

“Well bugger me!” (An expression of surprise.)

“Bugger, Bob.” (I’m annoyed with Bob.)

“I buggered up the paperwork.” (I made a mess of the paperwork.)

“Bugger!” (Darn, that’s a shame.)

“I’ll bugger off home then.” (I’ll go home.)

In my new book Hawaiian Lei which is out tomorrow, I have a glossary of words used at the end of the book. I also have words lists on my website at www.troikaromance.com.

I’m as pleased as punch to have my new book coming out. It’s a sensuous, heartfelt male/male gay romance set in the beautiful Hawaiian Islands.

I’m born and bred in New Zealand but my American home state is Hawai’i. Combining these two special cultures into one story has really called to my heart and soul. I’ve lived in the States for 20 odd years now and have become a hybrid of both New Zealand and America. I received my citizenship in the courthouse over in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawai’i. It ‘s the perfect blend of the Polynesian Pacific Island culture which sings to my soul, combined with the convenience of the American lifestyle I’ve become used to. I am happiest at home in Kona, on the Big Island of Hawai’i. J

All my stories are ultimately about soul deep relationships, the intense love and connection we all crave with another human being. The core need to be accepted just as we are.

I hope you enjoy our Kiwiana and enjoy the new book Hawaiian Lei. I loved writing using my Kiwi and Hawaiian voices. It’s lovely to showcase my own countrymen and the gorgeous aloha state of Hawai’i. 🙂

Mahalo and aloha Meg. :-).


Meg Amor

Meg Amor, a multi-published contemporary author, has always believed in love and romance. She writes deep, sensual, romance stories about heartfelt connections and deep soul relationships. Meg feels that passionate sex, as well as her characters inner workings—their vulnerabilities, emotions, and thoughts—are what make a love story exciting and real. She loves to write sensual, erotic romance, with committed poly, and gay male/male relationships.

Meg hand-wrote and “published” her first book when she was eleven about her parent’s separation. Constantly told as a child she had a vivid and (over) active imagination, the dawn of the computer era meant she could now take dictation at speed from the interesting characters galloping around her head.

She grew up in New Zealand, and temporarily lives in California with her American fur children: Leo Ray Jr., and Mr. Beaumont, the Ginger Ninjas. Her heart and soul are split between her American home state of Hawai’i in Kona on the Big Island, and the sultry, steamy Southern city of New Orleans. Nearly all her books are set in Hawai’i or New Orleans, along with snatches of New Zealand for good luck.

Meg’s a gypsy at heart and loves to travel all over the world. She has a love of open cockpit biplanes and the gentle waft into the air from a grass strip. Given a choice, she’d eat out most nights. Fine dining, French, Fusion, Afghani, and Burmese food are some of her all-time favorites. But her favorite junk food is New Zealand fish and chips cooked in pure fat. Never one to do things by halves, she believes in the motto “Amor Vincet Omnia”—Love Conquers All.


Do Words Change Our Responses to Violence and Injustice?   By Joyce F. Elferdink

Doublespeak_From a book cover on Doublespeak by Matthew Feldman                                      cover

Scene 1; Take I

 Awakened by my alarm set for WHYD 89.9 FM, the station that usually bore me gently back to the living, instead shocked me into a fully awake state today with this news flash:

A bomb exploded last night in Our Savior Catholic Church, killing at least 220 persons. Most of the dead are high school students who were practicing for a fundraising concert to continue Mother Teresa’s work in Calcutta. No group has yet taken credit for this heinous act, although evidence points to an anti-gay group. Our Savior’s priest who allowed the church to sponsor meetings of Until Love is Equal is among the dead. Most of the families of the dead teens were already reeling from the announcement last week by Heinz Distillers NA that positions for 700 of the 1476 currently employed locally will be abolished by month end and the lines moved overseas. With unemployment in the area already at a twenty hear high, the surviving family members will become poor overnight. The company’s CEO, Nicholas Nastii, defended the firings as necessary to remain competitive. He was quoted as saying, “Our wage expenses were too high, especially when the jobs required a level of expertise unavailable. We’ve contracted with Employment Services to help those being downsized find more suitable jobs.”


Scene 1; Take II

Awakened by my alarm set for WHYD 89.9 FM, I brushed my teeth as I half listened to the announcer discuss last night’s news. Something about an incident that occurred somewhere in the area…

Student workers—as many as 220–have been reclassified as collateral damage. The youth were practicing for a concert in a faith-based facility when the mishap occurred. This comes at a very bad time for most of the families. Many of the teens and their parents were employed by Heinz Distillers NA. The company, the region’s major employer, just last week announced plans to outsource fifty percent of its bottling unit to the U.S., a very large end user and said to have cheaper immigrant labor. Surveys of families affected by the mishap and downsizing indicate the majority will be forced  into the ranks of the economically disadvantaged.  Heinz CEO says that is not so. “These people only need to revise their employment expectations. Those who are willing to work will be able to afford all necessities.”

How differently did your mind and heart respond when the news reporter used the following terms instead of plain English: Collateral damage  instead of  death and property destruction; downsizing instead firing; economically disadvantaged instead of poor; mishap instead of catastrophe. There’s also outsourced and faith-based, which some would label doublespeak.

This is my attempt at doublespeak, a term that combines George Orwell’s ‘doublethink’ and ‘newspeak’ that he originated for his political novel 1984.” As he saw it: “Political language . . . is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” (George Orwell, “Politics and the English Language,” 1946)

In 1974, the National Council of Teachers of English established a Doublespeak Award, given annually to “public speakers who have perpetuated language that is grossly deceptive, evasive, euphemistic, confusing, or self-centered.” Recipients have included the CIA, Exxon Corporation, the U.S. Department of Defense (three times), Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Glenn Beck.
[Retrieved from http://grammar.about.com/od/words/a/Doublespeak-Soft_Language-Gobbledygook.htm]

What person or organization would you nominate for the Doublespeak Award, whether public speakers, writers, or  other “taxpayers”—oops, are all citizens taxpayers? And please explain the criteria for your selection.


Joyce Elferdink’s Bio:

This author thinks of herself as a teacher, apprentice, traveler and activist. Her inspiration comes from life experiences and an overactive imagination (nothing new to authors) and by the diverse novels she reads (but primarily science fiction). This summer she was stunned to receive an Excellence in Teaching award from her employer, Davenport University. Now if she could only get one of those equally prestigious awards for her novel, Pieces of You or the one just begun, The Battle of Jericho, 2035. Actually, her primary purpose for writing is to make readers think about questions we all may be asking.





Who are you? by James Secor

 jim 1

Who are you? Where did you come from? Not: Where are you coming from?

I began my adult writing career as a playwright, in the heady days of the alternative theatre of the late 60s-early 70s. Guerrilla theatre is provocative. Language is contentious and in your face, not the least subtle. At the same time, I wrote and acted in a touring children’s puppet company. Though subtle language was, again, not a top priority, puns were appreciated –if bad and pointed enough. But highly imagistic and evocative language was important. As I played the villains, I had great gobs of opportunity for putting language to use, especially with the florid improvisation as found in commedia dell’arte: certain bits of business and words and phrases were set; whatever happened in between was up to us. Actually, it was up to the audience; their response to what we did dictated how the play moved and developed. All along the way, like roadside kudzu or aloe vera, I wrote social satires. All were absurdist. Here, puns and double entendres and outré or extended metaphors are the norm; but they depend on the situation, the context. Social satire is intended to upset or arouse the audience.

Language and style–context–and attention to audience stayed with me during my doctoral years. No one much appreciated this. While I was concerned with audience, the school was concerned with PC performance.

I specialized in Japanese theatre. Japanese theatre is alternative theatre because it is not mainstream American theatre. Along with my five years in Japan, my use and expressability of language grew because of Kabuki, Noh and Kyōgen. This, along with my deep affair with Tanka, made its way into my work, my linguistic bag of tricks. Kabuki and Kyōgen are audience-oriented, Kabuki allowing for a bravura show-off by the star: improvisation. Japanese language rhythms and the tight construction of Tanka bled into my language use as well, so my voice also became other-hued, depending on context. That is, depending on what is being said and to whom.

With the expansiveness and broadness of summer vaudeville, the bigness of language, the subtlety and punning that I had long played with, and improvisation was kept alive. The improvisation as actor tipped over into my writing. Improvisation is difficult for most actors. It involves not only knowing the tenor and tone of the play and your character, but keeping track of where you began to take off and where you must end up. In the midst of this, watch yourself as the actor, watch yourself as the character, be able to react (adjust) to the other actors on stage and you must watch and respond to the audience.

So, here again, the two-lane highway continued on: language and attention to audience.

It was via Suzanne Langer and Ernst Cassirer that my love affair with language truly began. Because everything revolves around metaphor, my voice began to change. We can’t say anything without metaphor. Metaphor isn’t simply a part of speech; it is speech. It is also art. With further linguistic studies, the multidimensionality of language use blossomed and I was able to manipulate words in new ways. Along with Humberto Maturana and a slew of other linguists, this intellectualization fed my voice though it took some time and practice to make it serviceable.

Why multidimensionality? Because I can make words and sentences that say many more things than at first seems apparent. I can expand my voice and never bore my audience (except when I write something like this). To have a larger array of spices in your larder allows you more freedom and possibility for cooking but also altering of any recipe. Add a sprinkle of ground allspice to your pork chops.

While writing, my words will comment upon the story or upon the character or upon the author’s viewpoint or direct the reader in slant. Unless you’re open to the aliveness of language–which is waning, as Toni Morrison says—you’ll miss this. Yet this is voice. It is my voice. My voice changes with each story and within the boundaries set for that story’s form. I guess you could say I’ve a storeyed voice. Rumi uses multiple voices in his poetry, sometimes—most notably in his Mathnawi—up to seven voices in one poem, each voice a point of view, a different facet of the subject. It’s difficult to tell each of these voices from the overall voice, for they are seamlessly knit together and all turned to the same end. I’m not so brilliant. But I will change narrative voice for each character until the entire cast is drawn together when a neo-voice befitting the situation (context) is born.

Because of my theatre experience, the story is always directed outward. The only narrative in theater is in the dialogue; and then the dialogue with the audience.

The language and audience train. Track 29. May I help you with your bag, sir? Be careful, it’s kind of tricky. Oh!—it moves about! Yes, it does twist and shout, ne?

Literature is a non-discursive medium. Nevertheless, in today’s world it seems to me that language use tends toward the discursive; it is not part of the telling, it is not part of the story; it is outside looking in and used without discrimination. This is not to say non-discursive language is totally absent. But for some godawful reason, the “journalistic” writing of Hemingway—considerably less human than Faulkner’s or Gellhorn’s—was touted as the best in writing. This journalistic approach, because it is discursive language at base, lends itself to definition and instruction. How-to books are popular and so this ideal of journalistic writing is still pushed today, though reporting—there are decidedly few newspapermen who are journalists—is discursive and fractured, often to the point of a loss of coherence. Lots of he said-she said and authority-speak and damned little story. Lots of declarative sentences: it is this way.

Language is not heard any more and that is the problem with voice. Voice is the sound of language. But today it seems language is no more than ink in recognizable shapes on paper. Any more, it’s on the Internet—and who the hell knows where that is! Any more, it seems to me, writers give everything to the reader, a discursive trick; there is no play for imagination; there is no involvement of the reader. Narrative should be part of the story, it should maintain theme and context. Without the reader, we writers are nothing. The point is to involve the reader, as if making the reader part of the making of the story.

Did you know that there is no description of Sherlock Holmes until the third edition of stories (The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes)? Not only does everything not need to be given, some things are not important enough to be given.

During our run of Internet PR for The Speed of Dark, Clayton asked those of us who volunteered to be targets for the slings and arrows of audience feedback to write a little blurb on a story. I chose to write about The Tangled Net of Ruin, yet offered up another story (not known) utilizing metaphor and symbolism in storytelling and a tight structure that called upon the writer’s imagination. Here is what I gave him and put up at my wordpress blog:

Wherever did Tangled in the Net of Ruin come from? In Chikamatsu Monzaemon’s double suicide plays (shijūmono) the conflict is between ninjō (“passion”) and giri (“duties” or “obligations” to family and society). But, like everything that flows from our pens, there is basis in “real life.” But in building the story, I used my knowledge and practice of writing Tanka, a highly metaphoric poetic form requiring precision and implied meanings and connections between apparently unrelated things–the bread and butter of symbolism. We cannot escape symbolizing.

Thus, the language I used in Tangled is highly symbolic and suggestive. I did not need or want didactic or discursive explanations that took away not only the beauty of the language but the readers’ imagination. There is no need to say everything anyway, despite the popular trend of handing everything on a silver platter to a passive reader, much like TV and movies. The translator of this second tier symbolizing is the reader. Suzanne Langer notes that writers are nothing without readers. So, I included the reader in the story via imagination instead of keeping her outside and looking in. (My favorite story in the anthology did the same thing but in a very different way: Plastic People, Leigh M. Lane.

Stravinsky said: “The more constraints one imposes, the more one frees oneself of the chains that shackle the spirit. . .the arbitrariness of the constraint only serves to obtain precision of execution.”

Does all of this messing around with language, this constraining and multidimensionality boggle and confuse? No. Because it’s all about voice and voice does not exist without audience. Language is alive. It moves and breathes. It joins together with other words to create a different life. Words do not stand by themselves, isolated items, parts of a machine. In our highly Enlightenment-influenced literate culture, words are words and ever more shall be so. B-I-N-G-O.

Language. And reader. Alive! Alive-o!

The more tricks in my bag, the more choices I have, the richer my writing.

This is who I am.

Me can be found at Linkedin: James Secor. But it’s pretty dry.

Under my pseudonym, Minna vander Pfaltz–necessary to a certain voice–I can be found at: http://labelleotero.wordpress.com She even has a society page!

Several essays can be found at: www.counterpunch.com. Along with some satire.

Clatyon and I are working on publishing a buy one get one free pairing. For me, this is the first seven cases of one Lt. Detective Anthony Lupée and his sidekick Sgt. Cassandra Dumqik–“Please call me Sgt. D.” The title is Det. Lupée: The Impossible Cases. Both books involve finding the key to life and how it works and how to keep it from not working well at the hands of others.