Archive for September, 2015

Literally: A Rant

Posted: September 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

I’m not sure when or why it became a thing. I can’t remember if it was a spoof first or if the spoof came after. All I know if there’s some serious language abuse going on.

I scowl only at the GenX’ers who do this because I think they should know better. I don’t know why I think they should, but I think they should.

So to you Millennials and Baby Boomers who are killing me with this shit:

Literally means actually, or without exaggeration. It is NOT the exaggeration itself.

When John Green uses “We are literally in the heart of Jesus,” as the pastor’s favorite saying in The Fault in Our Stars, he’s telling all of us that misusing “literally” is fucking ridiculous.

We cannot be literally in the heart of Jesus because he’s a) not a living person, b) not a national park, c) not big enough to hold human beings inside himself, d) all of the above.

When I hear people say, “I was literally on the floor laughing,” and I think, “Um, no. You probably were not,” I mostly just want to erase them from the planet.

Not in a their-family-would-miss-them way, but in a Please Don’t Vote. Ever. kind of way.

It’s not that hard to misuse words. People do it all the time. I hear them say things like “I would never do that,” when, really, “never” is far from true.

Or “I always think that,” but actually, “always” isn’t the right word for that at all. You cannot always be thinking any one thing. Sometimes you’re thinking something else.

Superlatives are prone to abuse. They know it. They’re fine with it and I am, too. Honestly. I may repeat them to the person who’s abused them, “Really?” I’ll say, “You’d NEVER?”

I get that superlatives are gonna get abused.

But “literally”? It’s not superlative, it’s barely an adjective. It’s like a noun pretending to be an adjective. Literal is an actual state of being. It’s what-you-see-is-what-you-get. It’s the honest, balls-out truth.

So literally is the adjective of that state.

When you misuse literally, you’re lying. If you’re not in any way actually “literally” doing what you say you’re doing, then it’s misrepresentation at the least. At worst, it’s you trying to sound purposeful and lacking the vocabulary to make your case. Find a word-of-the-day calendar and move on. Perambulate. Mosey. Peregrinate.

If you think you are “literally” anything, ask yourself, “Am I balls-out, honest-to-Somebody’s God truly this?” Because if you’re not, stop fucking saying literally.

Or I’ll think you’re an idiot.

And probably a Millennial.


The Agent Rejection

Posted: September 8, 2015 in GenX
Tags: , , , , ,

I’m about to begin querying my GenX novel After December to a small press. I made the decision over the weekend after considering, again, the response I received from an agent last spring.

Agent: Nobody wants to read about the 90’s. It’s too recent to be considered historic and too long ago to be considered relevant.

Fair enough. To be honest, I don’t remember that much about the 90’s. We have Trivial Pursuit: The 90’s Edition and it’s ridiculously hard. I spent most of the decade wrapped up in my own personal dramas related to high school, boys, college, and my parents’ divorce.

Also there was a lot of drinking and smoking weed.

But the next part of the agent conversation is what made me question why I was even interviewing agents:

Agent: Why can’t the main character just be 22 now?
Me: Like, a Millennial?
Agent: Yeah.
Me: But there’d be social media and a big part of the story is his detachment from his friends.
Agent: Maybe he’s just not into social media.
Me: A Millennial?

I know some Millenials and they’re basically good kids. But come on. They’re value system is very very different from ours. Stripping GenX from Brian Listo is like making Elizabeth Bennett a lesbian. While it might be a doable version of the story, it would be a very different story.

Finally, the agent asked who would read my novel. I said book clubs — you know, those GenX moms who drink wine and remember their high school boyfriends? Possibly college kids now — I read Ethan Hawke’s college-kid-finds-love-and-loses-it novel The Hottest State when I was in college and it resonated.

Agent: So Millenials are a target audience?

As if to prove her point about aging Brian into the now.

The Millenials I know think DiCaprio originated the role of Jay Gatsby. They don’t need modern-era novels. They just need something that confirms their own interests in self, fame, and partying.

So, okay, one agent who doesn’t get it is just a single strike out. Get back up there and keep swinging. What I realized, though, was that agents reflect what the publishers say they want. So I need to find a publisher who will buy my pitch.

Next blog: The Pitch.