Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Writing { and reading and publishing } ~

Tag Archives: etymology

#BlogPosts as #Conversations


Blog posts as conversations Two days ago, I began a restoration of my commitment to regular blogging after a month-long psychological sabbatical (though I was re-blogging during that break…).

In Monday’s post, I said:

“I want to enlist my readers, you and you and you, in a long-term project…

“I’m hoping my regular readers at first, then, perhaps, folks who happen in, will begin commenting on the Monday and Wednesday posts, in a way that creates ‘bridging ideas’ that I can carry into my next original post—either your thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams, experiences, lack of experiences—you name it—perhaps, call it ‘creative writing prompt invention’—something to help me ‘thread together’ a series of posts…

“Sometimes, I may have only one comment that inspires what I write in my next scheduled post—sometimes, hopefully, there’ll be a whole bouquet of comments…”

Of course, if any given post has no comments, I’ll have to carry on the “conversation” myself—not very hard for this writer :-)

As it happens, there were two readers’ comments on Monday’s post; and, I was able to capture these two thoughts:

“I like the idea of blogs being a conversation rather than a monologue.”

I think every author stands at that window of trust and wonders if it’s possible to jump and land unhurt. In a way, we are all shouting into the emptiness of bookspace and listening with surprise to faint answers.”

First, I notice the “flavor” of the two comments—one being directly about blogs as conversation, the other broadening the conversationality to “authoring”. Though, writing a blog is authoring; and, many authors write more than blogs…

And, one more curious form of “authoring” that comes from my belief that the Reader is always “rewriting” what conscious authors produce—the re-authoring of the author’s words—an authorial Conversation between writer and reader…

Plus, if we expand “authoring“—based on its etymology ( increase , promote , originate )—and apply it to other human activities, we can say the TV commentator is an author, the mother is the author of the household’s “rules”; perhaps, stretching it to ideas like the cook’s authoring of a cake…

Yes, I’m playing with the word; but, I’m an author, of blog posts, poems, short stories, a novel, and my own little Life…

I’ll end my end of this conversation with a question:

Are you authoring your life; or, are others writing it for you?

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So, this conversation began Here and continued right up there…

Where will you take the conversation in the Comments?
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“Wordnik Is Looking for a Million Missing Words—Can You Help?”


The title of this post was the subject line of an email I got yesterday. Wordnik

Wordnik is an online dictionary/thesaurus; and, if you didn’t know, a thesaurus is what shows you the synonyms of words. And, Wordnik also shows you a word’s etymology—its word-history

Or, in their own words, “…we’re the world’s biggest and friendliest English dictionary.”

Then, they told me:

“This is just a quick email to let you know that Wordnik launched a Kickstarter campaign today!”

Before I share about the Kickstarter campaign, I should let Wordnik tell you a bit more about itself:

“Every word at Wordnik gets its own full page, with as much data shown as possible: a standard definition (if one already exists), example sentences; synonyms, antonyms, and other related words; space for community-added tags, lists, and comments; images from Flickr and tweets from Twitter; and statistics on usage, including how many times a word has been favorited, listed, tagged, commented-upon, and, of course, whether or not it’s valid in Scrabble (and how many points it scores).”

And, here’s more about the Kickstarter campaign:

“We want to find a million words that haven’t been included in major English dictionaries and give them each a home on the Internet.

“At Wordnik we believe that every word of English deserves to be lookupable!

“The internet is, for all practical purposes, infinite. Wordnik can and should include every English word that’s ever been used.”

Why?

“Every word deserves a recorded place in our language’s history. We want to collect, preserve, and share every word of English, and provide a place where people can find, learn, annotate, comment on, and argue about every word.

“If you want to know more about a word—any word!—we want to help you find the information you need. If you’re curious about a word, why should you have to wait until someone else decides that a word is worth knowing?”

And, in case you need even more reason to go check out the Kickstarter campaign:

“We already have all these words in English! They exist right now in articles, books, blog posts, and even tweets. But they’ve never all been recorded in one place where they can be discovered and loved.

“Have you ever felt that the right word was out there, but you just couldn’t find it?

“Have you ever learned a weird word that made your whole day? Perhaps a word like thoil, which means ‘to be able to justify the expense of a purchase’? Or pandiculation, which means ‘yawning and stretching (as when first waking up)’?”

Here’s Wordnik’s Kickstarter link again :-)
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Reading My Own Book . . .


Finally got here… 

Reading My Own Book

Image Courtesy of Mateusz Stachowski ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/mattox

Preparatory reading and note-taking are finished

I’m reading my last book (for the first time in four years) and appreciating what I did, while I take yet more notes (leading to a working outline)

Mind you, it had taken me quite a long time to write Notes from An Alien so it better be good :-)

When I say “write” I’m including the eleven years and three false attempts

This next book should be done next year (early?) and, near the end of this year, I’ll be looking for a few Beta-Readers for Finally, The Story Can Be Told

As I’ve mentioned here before, I’m re-reading Notes to make sure Finally is “congruent” with it—they happen in the same universe and time-frame, with mostly new characters, and a different way of narrating

If Notes is a documentary novel, Finally will be full-on Speculative Fiction

Might as well mention, for anyone reading this who is just beginning their writing-journey, the work of authoring a book is totally Weird.

Just to nail down what I mean here’s weird’s etymology:

“c. 1400, ‘having power to control fate’, from wierd (n.), from Old English wyrd ‘fate, chance, fortune; destiny; the Fates,’ literally ‘that which comes’, from Proto-Germanic *wurthiz (cognates: Old Saxon wurd, Old High German wurt ‘fate’, Old Norse urðr ‘fate, one of the three Norns’), from PIE *wert- ‘to turn, to wind’, (cognates: German werden, Old English weorðan ‘to become’), from root *wer- (3) ‘to turn, bend’ (see versus). For sense development from ‘turning’ to ‘becoming’, compare phrase turn into ‘become’.

“The sense ‘uncanny, supernatural’ developed from Middle English use of weird sisters for the three fates or Norns (in Germanic mythology), the goddesses who controlled human destiny. They were portrayed as odd or frightening in appearance, as in ‘Macbeth’ (and especially in 18th and 19th century productions of it), which led to the adjectival meaning ‘odd-looking, uncanny’ (1815); ‘odd, strange, disturbingly different’ (1820). Related: Weirdly; weirdness.”

And, don’t forget, you can download a free copy of Notes from An Alien

Till next time………
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Is That Really A Word??


I’ve written a number of posts explaining how I understand words—one of the slipperiest things we humans use.

Words

Image by Christian Ferrari ~ http://christian-ferrari.blogspot.com/

I was deep in discussion with my Best Friend last night and she made the eloquent observation that words are, in fact, slippery…

It seems that words come from some other realm, change meanings like chameleons, and slip our minds like cat burglars.

Of course, I’m only talking about English words because I have scant understanding of other languages—languages which have donated many words to English.

But, I do love to look up word histories when my writing demands control over deeper meanings.

I often use an Online Etymology Dictionary for those listings of the roots of words…

Two other cool word-study sites:

Wordwizard

The Sciolist

And, here are a few fun word lists.

And, once words are born and start growing up—especially in their adolescence—they pretend they mean new things and they start mating and acting like they’re really some other word.

One simple example—“bad” means “good”…

So, since I’m merely a maverick explorer of the surreal landscape of words, I thought it best to call in an expert.

Anne Curzan is Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of English at the University of Michigan. She also holds faculty appointments in the Department of Linguistics and the School of Education.

That may seem to make her some dry-as-dust person to invite into this blog but I can assure you she’s quite capable of talking just like the rest of us :-)

In fact, she has a remarkable ability to understand how the rest of us use words, even those adolescent ones…


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I Give Myself A Fantastic Writing Challenge . . .


It’s always interesting how seemingly isolated threads of activity can weave themselves into a new goal

First : I was contemplating the writing of one of the stories for the series, Behind The Scenes, and decided to purchase a deck of “Magic” cards to do a little research

Second : I gave a half-hearted attempt to learn how to play that card game and then just left the cards sitting on my writing desk

Third : I’d finished all the Behind The Scenes posts and faced the unrelieved desire to continue creating new stories each Friday

Fourth : A few days ago I spied the magic cards and playfully (randomly) drew-out five of them

Result: I had a Writing Prompt for a story and knew I’d begin a series of posts called Friday Fantasy

I’ll share, in a bit, a mind-map I created to evoke a plot for a fantasy story; but, first, here’s a graph from Visual Thesaurus for the word “fantasy”:

Post

And, here’s the Etymology of the word “fantasy”:

early 14c., “illusory appearance,” from Old French fantaisie (14c.) “vision, imagination,” from Latin phantasia, from Greek phantasia “appearance, image, perception, imagination,” from phantazesthai “picture to oneself,” from phantos “visible,” from phainesthai “appear,” in late Greek “to imagine, have visions,” related to phaos, phos “light,” phainein “to show, to bring to light” (see phantasm). Sense of “whimsical notion, illusion” is pre-1400, followed by that of “imagination,” which is first attested 1530s. Sense of “day-dream based on desires” is from 1926.

I’ve shared that info on “fantasy” because some of my regular readers might wonder why in the world I’m going to engage in genre writing—check out these past posts on genre—and, be aware, I fully intend to Bend the fantasy genre :-)

So, when I’d drawn those Magic cards, I got Merfolk, Enchantment-Immortality, Mountain, Forest, and Plain.

Here’s the mind map I created with Scapple as I contemplated the First Friday Fantasy

FirstFantasy

EDIT: Here’s the fantasy story I wrote the day after I wrote this post  :-)
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