Tag Archives: creative writing

A Book a Day Keeps the Doldrums Away – Contest Day 1

I spent the weekend on the beach in Fire Island with two of my oldest friends, a much-needed respite from my everyday life, which has recently been rife with sadness. We cooked amazingly delicious food, sat on the beach, talked and talked and talked, read Tarot cards (yes, we did!), got tan, drank quite a bit and read our books.  One friend was in the midst of a novel on her Nook, the other finished one book and started a second on her Nook. I was all old school, and read two whole books that had real pages and paper.

The first was a beautiful advanced reading copy I got at BEA, Wonderstruck, by Brian Selznick. If you don’t already know, Selznick is the author and illustrator of the 2008 Caldecott winning book, The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Both of his books are gorgeously told with both words and drawings, but don’t make the mistake of dismissing them as mere children’s stories or just picture books. Wonderstruck won’t be in bookstores until September but until then I highly recommend you buy or borrow Hugo Cabret. It is complex, like a wine might be, multi-layered and delicious.

The second book I read was The Forgotton Waltz, by Anne Enright. She won the 2007 Man Booker Prize for her novel The Gathering. I’m still allowing the story in The Forgotten Waltz to percolate. What I can say about it now is that it is a lovely, wry drawing of daily life as well as an exquisite voyage through betrayal and love. It won’t be in bookstores until October but I’m giving away one of the advanced reading copies of The Forgotten Waltz that I got at BEA. It is signed by the author, whom I had the pleasure to hear speak. It is truly brilliant.

On the ferry back to the mainland, squeezed between my two good friends on the windy upper deck, I finished the second book. It was the end of a perfect weekend and I had the experience of all being right in my world, if just for a moment.

What about you? What books have you read recently that have put the icing on your cake?

(Please read the rules on the Contest page for a chance to win The Forgotten Waltz.)


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Metamorphosis of a Potty Mouth

I’ve always loved descriptive language and the more expressive the word the better (expunge, sanguine, visceral). I almost wet myself when as a teenager I first heard comedian George Carlin’s “7 Words you Can Never say on Television” (shit, piss, fuck, cunt, cocksucker, motherfucker & tits) which obviously were compiled before the advent of cable TV. It might be difficult for today’s teen or young adult to even imagine how risqué Carlin was for speaking them out loud or how clean our censored television was.

I do also love descriptive words that aren’t nasty or sordid (aerie, bunny, slink, pungent, drizzle). But my heart is in the gutter. In high school, college and grad school, I was at the pinnacle of my poetry writing phase as well as my blabbing my mouth stage and I gloried in using Carlin’s words (sans the -sucker and mother- suffix and prefix). In my life and my writing I made use of so-called profanity as I pleased. So-called, because I think things like poverty, racism and downright meanness is way more profane than descriptive language about body parts and sex acts. But, as usual, I’m digressing…

When I had my first child I was worried I would slip-up and say something to my 2-year old like, “Honey, get in your fucking car seat before Mommy’s shit fit gets real ugly.” But I didn’t. Somehow, all the f-bombs were defused before deto

nation and my scatological riffs were creatively baby-wiped into a whole new use of language (doody, poopy, kaka, stinkies, etc…). Out in the world, toddlers in tow, mama bear that I was, I would ferociously glare at other people as they fuckin’ this fuckin’ that spoke with each other. Just like the ex-cigarette smoker who’s such a pain in the ass to those un-reformed public puffers, my evil eye cast many a hex on cussers when my kids were young.

Well, as the old English saying goes, “What’s bred in the bone will come out in the flesh.” Now that I’m the mother of teenagers and my youngest is about to go to middle school, I seem to have found the key to my verbal chastity belt. I’ve spent over ten years using euphemisms like “poop” and “a-hole” for perfectly sound words. But now I quit. Once the kids are into double digits all bets are off. I’m not going to suddenly be an asshole in front of my kids, but the other day I did tell my son not to “eff” something up.  He knew exactly what I meant, and he kind of rolled his eyes at me. I’m not sure if it was because I said that to him or because he thought I was being ridiculous for saying “eff” instead of just using the word.

How about you? Has your language use changed over time? Gotten cleaner or dirtier?


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