Where do you draw the line between keeping up with the most modern quirks of the English language and refusing to contribute to the destruction of the words that you love?
We all use and abuse it every single day. We’re cool and hip and we’re having fun, OK Dad?! But, there’s got be a line, right? Right!? A handful of very successful writing careers have been built upon completely made up words, and I’m certain I don’t need to tell you who I’m talking about (Dr. Seuss. It’s Dr. Seuss. But there’s others, of course, like that one old guy they call Shookspork or… or Shakeweight, or something like that). Quite frankly, if you’re writing Science Fiction, it’s almost impossible to get by without making up a word or two. So why, do you ask, am I so crotchety about modern slang terminology?
Because I’m a grouchy ninety-five-year-old trapped in an only slightly less grouchy twenty-four-year-old body, I suppose. Get off my damn lawn with your “yeet”s and your “turnt”s and your “fire”s.
It’s total hypocrisy, of course. Ten minutes ago, I told my girlfriend how dope I think bagels are. Dope. If that doesn’t date my level of coolness, probably nothing will. Because it can’t be dated. Because I will never stop being cool.
Slang is almost certainly one on a long list of things that every generation, every subculture, every person thinks 'we did it right and you’re doing it wrong'.
Speak however you like. Say whatever new neato phrases your favorite hip hop rappers are using. Not everyone is going to like it, but if it’s the person you want to be, then be it. But stay off my damn lawn if you’re gonna be yeet-ing and doing lits.
Just kidding. Be your terrific self. Don’t let my whining affect your decisions.
Well, tomorrow is the official book signing/launch party/narcissism event for The Vigilant Principle! Let me tell you, it feels weird not only inviting but encouraging people to attend something that is basically all about me and the story I wrote. Not only weird, it feels downright wrong. I’ve never been the type to actively seek attention, but now, in a way, that has become exactly what I must do to succeed. Does the obnoxious feeling ever abate even slightly? Does it ever get easier to say, “hey friends, pay attention to this thing I’ve done, it’s important to me so it should be important to you too,”?
I’m honestly not really expecting it to. I love the fact that people are reading and enjoying my book, but I’m not entirely sold on the idea of pushing it in to people’s hands. Finding the happy medium between loving my stories enough to share them and aggressively shoving them under your nose is going to be one of my biggest goals and toughest struggles.
Largely, though, I’m really just excited to meet people who are excited about reading, and to discuss the act of putting words on a page, and hopefully encourage someone with a book inside of them to get it out! It was one of the most liberating and therapeutic things I’ve ever done, to bring these characters and places and events to life. In a way, it was even a cathartic experience, to explore these ideas of morality and consequence through the eyes of fictional individuals.
I’ll never be able to vouch enough for writing as a form of stress relief. It doesn’t even have to be good. It doesn’t even have to make sense. Just tell the page how you’re feeling; or what you want; or make up a world where you’d rather be; or even something that scares the absolute hell out of you. Put the words down as a form of escape, if you have to. Build yourself a safe place in the lines of text on the paper in front of you.
I started this blog post afraid to face tomorrow—to speak to anyone about the story I’ve told and the time it took and the reasons why. I’m still afraid, and I’m still extremely nervous, but I do feel a little bit better about the fear. That’s one of the most incredible things in the world to me, and that’s a large part of why I think writing is so important.
Anyhow, thanks for reading my rambles. I look forward to seeing some of your faces tomorrow or any other time in the future. You’re all absolutely lovely and I appreciate every second of your time that you’ve given me.
Well, we're both here, so the choice has been made. The irony of a blog post about how much distaste I have for blog posts certainly is not lost on me. In the back of my mind all I hear is "xoxo, gossip girl" and that bothers me a little bit. My knee jerk reaction to the idea of a blog would be a firm shake of the head. The word itself sounds like a dry heave to me. Bleeehawg. But, I felt the same about Twitter approximately two weeks ago, and now I'm checking it often, seeking the approval of strangers on the internet. That comes with the territory of being a writer, probably. It's all fairly new to me!
But, honestly, how cool would Gossip Girl have been if it were reimagined as a supernatural crime drama on HBO, in which the Gossip Girl is some sort of omniscient deity picking off New York's most talked about young adults? Am I allowed to talk about Gossip Girl like that here? Am...Am I supposed to be portraying myself as a professional? Is it abundantly clear that I have no idea what I'm doing? Huh... That's neither here nor there, I suppose, but I've been thinking about it for a while. If you have a friend at HBO, let me know I guess?
So if you're here reading this, then I thank you for giving me a minute of your time. Maybe I'll get better, maybe I'll get worse, but more blogs will begin to pop up eventually.
xoxo, Mark Karsten
(That's not going to become a thing, don't worry.)