Emdash friends


A convention of Jane Austen’s literature and others of that time is an emdash followed by the word “shire.” So in Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy is visiting from “—shire,” which a librarian led me to believe is intended to be said, “Mr. Darcy was from *coughcough*-shire.” The other day a friend and I were talking about what we had done over the weekend. I told her that I’d done absolutely nothing, and she said, “Nice!” And I said, “I know, right?!” Because I belong to the Mean Girls generation.

Anyway, this got us to talking about how some people don’t understand how awesome a weekend of nothing can be. How, after being busy with work all week, sometimes all you want is to be in your home watching television you’ve already seen and never getting out of your pajamas.

Which leads to this happening:

You are going about your business, content in the knowledge that you have a weekend of nothing-doing ahead of you. Your Emdash friend approaches/calls/texts/shouts across the room at you.

Emdash friend: Hey, a bunch of us are going to [insert club/concert/bar/bowl/country name], you in?

You: I’m doing nothing this weekend.

Emdash friend: Awesome, we’re all going to meet at [person you both know]’s to [pre-drink, probably], and then—

You: No, you don’t understand. What I’m doing this weekend (dramatic pause) is nothing.

Emdash friend: … oh. Okay.

And they leave, and never invite you to anything ever again.

End scene.

You see, the problem with Emdash friends is that they don’t understand that not wanting to go out one weekend is not the same as disliking them. Even if you remove the dramatic pause. They are also the kind of people who will ask you if you’re mad at them when you’re quiet. They are work.

But they are often really fun. And because they can’t understand wanting to do nothing, they are almost always doing something. Those things aren’t always appealing, but they’re happening. And if you don’t want to miss out forever just because you didn’t want to go to the club one Friday but instead wanted to wear your onesie and work on your night cheese, you kind of have to lie to them about your nothing doing. You have to tell them that you’re doing something so that they won’t fuck with your nothing.

I don’t have any real advice for dealing with Emdash friends, except to say that you should be as vague about your plans as they will let you get away with. If you can get away with a mumble and a cough instead of a location, do that. You don’t want to have to remember this shit later on. Especially if you have a bunch of Emdash friends.

(Sidenote: not all Emdash friends do fun things and not all fun friends are Emdash friends. That’s just a silly application of the transitive property that doesn’t have any bearing on reality.)

Anyway, just wanted to remark upon this phenomenon, and attempt to introduce a term into wider usage.

What do you think? How do you deal with Emdash friends?




NaNoWriMo so far


How are you? I’m fine. How’s your NaNoWriMo going? I’ve written a little over fifteen thousand words, so I’m a bit behind on my word count, but whatever. I don’t think I’ve updated my word count since the last time I posted about NaNo.

As someone who regularly gets absorbed by minutiae to an excessive degree, going online to get to the NaNoWriMo site is just placing temptation in my own path. With Imgur only a click away, it might be hours before I get to the site I went online to check out. If I ever do. Sometimes I fall into that pit of cats and Ryan Gosling, and don’t make it out until 3am. (Sidenote: the full Magic Bullet infomercial is probably better than everything else that’s on at 3am. There are so many layers. And I’m not just talking about the dip.)

Twitter has been helpful, though. Mostly because most of my friends aren’t on Twitter, so I just follow book and music people that I don’t know. I’ve been a follower and occasional participant in @FriNightWrites, and I recently started following @NaNoWordSprints. Even when I don’t actively participate, having that stuff constantly cycling through my feed keeps NaNo at the forefront of my mind.

I don’t like talking about a work in progress unless I’m stuck and *knock on wood* right now I’m not stuck. I don’t like to talk about writing in general, actually. I don’t like to talk about process and how I get ideas and what you should and shouldn’t do. Maybe because I don’t understand it well enough yet to feel qualified to comment, or maybe because the part of me that is superstitious thinks that talking about it will cause that very personal, sometimes almost alchemical, process to become permanently tainted. And the thought of losing the ability to write gives me anxiety.

But without talking at all about writing, how is this an update. So here are some thoughts on writing.

  • I do not write in the morning. I am not a morning person. A lot of writers who write about writing have given advice about writing in the morning being the best way. Maybe for them. For me, night is best. Night is good. Darkness. Solitude. No one texting you about assignments or how they aren’t sure whether the guy they’re seeing is their boyfriend or not (if you’re not sure, he’s not your boyfriend. If you want him to be, ask him to be. If he says no, at least you know.)(I am not qualified to give relationship advice. People should really stop texting me about this stuff.)
  • I do not outline. Not because I don’t believe in outlining, but because I get too absorbed in the details. The most I’ll do is write “flaming globes of sigmund” on a post-it and stick it to my laptop.
  • I do character build like an OCD detective investigating a serial killer, though. Notes on the wall with pictures and strings and big red circles and different colored highlighters and all that jazz. Character is story. I need to know my characters more than I need to know my plot, because without my characters, there is no plot. (Sidenote: this is why I have trouble writing to prompts/themes. I have an idea about how to fix this, but I haven’t tested it out fully so I’m not going get into that here.)
  • I do write when I’m supposed to be doing other things. Just as when you try to sit down to write nothing seems more important than checking your Facebook status, there is nothing more satisfying than writing when you really should be working on a twenty page paper or listening to someone talk about metadata.
  • I do put on headphones but I don’t listen to music. Music distracts me. Makes me dance. I wear headphones solely for the “don’t talk to me” that headphones imply.

There are other things, but that should do for now. I have to save some of my insanity for future posts.

How’s NaNo treating you? Good? Bad? Ugly?



I will use “they” as a singular pronoun

It’s going to happen. It has entered common usage as a neutral pronoun. Here’s the argument for it, which is the argument I would have made if I could speak articulately about grammar:

Is “They” Acceptable as a Singular Pronoun?

I will link you back to this post if you correct me for using “they” as a singular pronoun.

That is my stance on “they.”

That is all.

Something that I think would be cool but would probably be really complicated

I think it would be cool to do a simultaneous release of a book in different languages with different artists doing the covers and binding and whatnot. Do a limited print release but in various countries, in conjunction with the eBook release. 100 artistically bound books each in Canada, the US, the UK, France, Germany, Argentina, and so on and so forth. And they come with an eBook code, so when you buy these (probably more expensive, let’s be real) print books, you get the eBook, too.

That’s the basic idea. It’s obviously more complicated than it seems. If you want to skip over me babbling about the idea and just comment on the concept, skip down to the comment section.

The easy publication of (immersive) fiction creates the possibility for books to be released worldwide without associated shipping costs and distribution issues. It’s easy to connect with artists around the world through the internet. PayPal and other such systems mean that you can get and give money to wherever from wherever. Sort of.

I love print books. I love the artifact of the book. I’m generally a tactile person; when I shop for clothes, I have to touch them. It’s part of why I’ve never really been an online shopper. If I think a sweater looks nice, I want to be able to touch it.

Because sometimes that’s the only way to tell whether or not it’s going to be itchy.

I like flipping through a book, I like feeling the weight of a book (have you noticed that YA books can be as thick as other books, even having the same page count sometimes, but are way lighter? Do you know why that is? I feel like it’s something to do with the type of paper and the amount of ink per page, but I’m not sure). And in a weird way, I like how battered a book I love looks over time. I like to see it’s poor cracked spine and dog-eared pages, and the notes that I wrote in the margins that I don’t understand because I’m not studying deconstruction anymore and don’t need to remember the difference between “difference” and “différance.”

I like that I have to read A Storm of Swords in chunks because the binding keeps coming unglued and I’ve lost interest in fixing it. And I like that I know that print books aren’t going to become obsolete the way that LaserDisc and Floppy discs did. I’m not going to lose the ability to read them when my system updates, or have to buy a new gadget to let me access them.

Have eyes, can read.

I can also lend them whenever the fuck I want, without having to pay extra for the privilege. And no one can take type in some lines of code and make them disappear.

Sorry. I just have a lot of feelings.

I also really enjoy seeing different editions of books – the different choices that publishers make so that the book will appeal to different cultures. I love the artistry that is possible (but not prevalent) with the print book that isn’t (currently) available across the board with eBooks.

I’d love to see what an artist in Senegal did with the cover of a book compared to what an artist from China or France or Finland did. I’d love to see what kind of idioms a Spanish translator came up with. I’d love to feel French binding. And I’d love for a book to be immediately, internationally available.

Mega-super wishful thinking, right? Right. Massively complicated to organize and fund and gather the funds from, assuming there are funds at all. What’s the sales percentage? How do you manage workflow? Getting a book out on time and on budget is a crazy crapshoot when you can see the person holding up the process five feet away from you eating frozen yoghurt, how will you keep track of people when you’re in different countries? How do rights work in this situation?

No fucking idea. I’m an idea man. I can’t do everything.

Also not a man.

Day 1: The madness begins


Today was the first day of NaNoWriMo. I meant to involve myself in @FriNightWrites’ marathon last night, but I was late to the party and it felt like cheating to count things towards my NaNoWriMo word count before it was November in my time zone. So I decided to go to bed early so that I could get a fresh start this morning.

Instead I read Rick Riordan’s House of Hades until 1 am. (I finished it. I liked it.)

Then I slept like the dead until 6 am, when I got up to go to school.

A lot of writers seem to write in the morning, and advise others to write in the morning. Some even suggest getting up an hour earlier to write. And I have something to say to that.


I am not and have never been a morning person. It’s rare for me to say more than ten words in the first hour of being awake. It takes me at least half-an-hour to wake up completely. Less than that and it’s much harder for me to handle the life choices that people make every day.

Like turning left from the rightmost lane, or wearing tights as pants.

I write at night. A writer friend of mine says that when you write at night, you’re setting a limit to how long you can write because rather than the day being ahead of your, it’s behind you. You can only stay up so long.

You don’t know how long I can stay up, writer friend. And in my experience there is nothing quite like passing into a coma-like sleep in front of your computer and dreaming about your story for the four or so hours you have before you have to get up to go to school.

It does make the morning after something akin to waking up hungover at a friends house after a big party: you’re mouth tastes funny because you didn’t remember to brush your teeth, your back feels weird, you can’t remember everything that happened the night before.

Which makes the morning a perfect time for me to edit, actually. When I don’t remember which parts I liked and which ones I didn’t like.

Oh, anyway. First day was good. Met my writing goals for the day. Wore a blonde wig to a project presentation for grad school (when you’re not particularly religious, November 1st is just Cheap Wig Day). Played with my dog.

I’m content, man.

It is now officially Day 2 of Nanowrimo.

I don’t think daily updates are something that I could sustain. Silly to think I could.

I also don’t want to flood this site with NaNo stuff constanly.

I think I’ll just update about NaNo on a week to week basis.

Unless something really awesome happens.

NaNoWriMo 2013

I have signed up for NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month, to the uninitiated). I’ve done it before, but this year I’m undertaking it while also in the pressure cooker of grad school.

I’ve also made the incredibly wise and not at all crazy decision to involve myself in @FriNightWrites 48 hour marathon of writing. I’ve currently contributed no words to it, because I thought I was supposed to start at midnight on November 1st when apparently I was actually supposed to start at 5am today.

So…already behind.

This should be fun.

I also want to build a guitar. I have a book on it, and I know a guy who has the tools.