March 14th, 2008

ozarque figure

Writing nonfiction; It's A Whole 'Nother World; part three...

Tell you what.... I'm struggling here, trying to revise The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense and get it right. And I'm having an awful time. It's struggle enough, and awful enough, that I can't really find room in my head for very much else. [Like writing blogposts for this journal on other subjects, for example.] The two problems that are giving me fits are:

1. I need to make sure that I don't leave anything truly essential out of this revised edition -- while at the same time making sure that what I write stays within the limits my editor/publisher has set for me. That means a lot of drastic bouilloncubing, and it means taking great care. It's especially difficult for me to be certain that I put every last thing into the new chapter on Verbal Self-Defense In E-Language that needs to be there.

2. I need to figure out how to handle the topic we've been discussing here for the past few days: the drastic change in the way that sexism [and other elitisms] are expressed in our language today, as compared with the situation when I wrote the first version of the book in the 1970s. Do I, as some of you have advised, specifically state that this change has taken place and write about that change? Or do I just presuppose the change, since the readers are living in 2008, not in the 1970s, and give them credit for being aware of it without needing a lot of infodumping from me? That's not an easy decision for me. I'm not much for infodumping at people when what I'm writing is neither a textbook nor a scholarly article.

To make it even more complicated, a lot of what's going on in the Democratic presidential primary campaign right now seems to me to be putting a merciless spotlight on this change. And I have the uneasy feeling that the things the candidates and their "surrogates" are saying -- and the heated discussions of the things they're saying, on the news networks and in other media -- may well be tearing away those veils of "subtlety" and "sophistication" we've been talking about in this journal and dragging us straight back into open expression of the various elitisms.

It would be awful to write a book alleging that we've gone all subtle and sophisticated in our language about sexism and racism and classism -- and have that book come out in a culture that is racing headlong in the opposite direction.

Like I said. I'm struggling.

Nonfiction online: "How Verbal Self-Defense Works" at ; "Why Are Old Women Older Than Old Men And How Can We Fix That?" at ; Religious Language Newsletter archive at ; Fiction online: "We Have Always Spoken Panglish" at ; "What The EPA Don't Know Won't Hurt Them" at ; "Weather Bulletin" at ; "A Quorum Of Grandmothers" at ; The Communipaths at . More stuff at ; LiveJournal blog index at .