Deirdre Saoirse Moen

Sounds Like Weird

Kameron Hurley on Persistence and Being a Writer

23 January 2014

Kameron Hurley’s post is here. But I’m really more reacting to Rose Fox’s response here.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. Writing wasn’t something I tried until my 20s. It wasn’t an easy start, and it’s still not easy, but it stuck.

If I’d known how hard it would be, I probably would never have tried it, but I think that’s true of many art forms. We have a romanticized notion of the craft in question, and, by the time we find out that’s not the cold, harsh reality, we’re sucked in deep enough that we plod along.

The actual truth: I don’t enjoy writing — most of the time. I do enjoy taking stuff I’ve written and shaping it into something. In other words, I enjoy editing (my own work) more than I enjoy writing. I don’t enjoy editing others’ work nearly as much.

I wrote more about my history with writing in this post. When I was thinking about what to say to the posts linked at the top, pretty much everything I thought of was said in my previous post.

Except, perhaps, the most important thing of all: I write because I’m happier when I write consistently. Not every day, but when I get my writing time in on fiction projects. Whatever else I’m doing with my life, I need to make enough mental space that that can happen.

One of my fans said (paraphrasing) that I write my best stuff when I’m traveling. She’s seen my dailies, as it were, and I think she’s right.

Oh, and I’m still working on the book whose synopsis I mentioned in that post — been working on the book for about three months (though I’m also working on other projects).

This post brought to you by a rainstorm in Bora Bora….

bora-bora-rain

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On Quark XPress's Demise

21 January 2014

Back in the day, I used to write Quark XPress XTensions for a living, so this commentary (and linked article) about Quark XPress’s demise was fascinating.

One of those involved revamping and revising a significant (and sluggish) XTension to add new features.

I remember contacting Quark because of a problem we were having with so many boxes being laid out on the page (the XTension was for television listings, so there were often 600+).

They said, and I quote:

But why would you want to do that?

So I explained it to them, and they said:

Huh.

Here’s the thing. No matter what kind of program you write, someone will use it (or want to use it) in ways you don’t expect. You can learn to roll with that, or you can ignore it.

They chose to ignore it, as they chose with other customers.

And that is why oh so many of us no longer write Quark XTensions.

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Pitcairn Island

16 January 2014

Technically the occupied island out of the four-island group, a British Overseas Territory.

Home to 49 people. Though I’m not sure if that number is before or after the Pitcairn native we dropped off today.

Pitcairn Island

Pitcairn

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Cool Writing Tool

11 January 2014

So I write in Markdown, which is basically a text file where you put asterisks around stuff you want to underline, etc. There’s more to it than that, of course. Full syntax here.

There are a number of Markdown editors. I normally use Byword, which I prefer.

byword

However, there’s another Markdown editor, Writer Pro, that has a cool feature I rather like using for editing. You can syntax highlight any of the following: nouns, verbs, prepositions, adjectives, adverbs, or conjunctions.

Like so:

writer-pro

Pretty sweet, huh?

It’s gonna save trees, as I traditionally have printed out for these editing passes. Don’t have to any more. Yay.

And, part of the beauty of the Markdown format: you can freely switch between these (or any other) Markdown editors.

The heavy lifting on this feature’s actually a part of MacOS, so there may be other editors doing this soon. One can hope.

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Random Linguistic Notes

10 January 2014

Phrase that annoys me: “tribal tattoos.”

Tattoo is from a Tahitian word, from tatau, meaning “to mark.” They were inherently tribal. Your ink, tribal or otherwise, is your ink. But ink that has cultural meaning isn’t tribal. It’s a tattoo.

Likewise, taboo is also a Polynesian word, though it’s been credited to Tongan (tapu), Fijian (tabu), or Maori (tapu). The Hawai’ian form of the word is kapu. (Some day, I’d like to write a long post about why Hawai’i has so few consonants. One aspect of the answer is that teeth were considered to have mana. So. Religious dentistry.)

While I’m on the linguistic tear here, I’d also like to put in a word for desert.

Apple’s dictionary gives the derivation as follows:

ORIGIN Middle English: via Old French from late Latin desertum ‘something left waste,’ neuter past participle of deserere ‘leave, forsake.’

And most dictionaries stop there (because everything stops at Latin or Greek, right?), but that’s not where the word comes from.

The Middle Egyptian word, transliterated dshrt (deshret), means the red lands beyond the area where the flooding occurred aka those lands that were desert. Kmt (kemet) referred to the black soil where the flooding occurred annually. More notes on this with hieroglyphs.

So, I get why, historically, the original meaning was lost — because we really did lose much of the meaning of hieroglyphs until the Rosetta stone was deciphered. It doesn’t really excuse the dictionary derivations being wrong past that point, though.

IMG_0664

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My Problematic Relationship with Spanish

06 January 2014

I’ve long had a problematic relationship with Spanish and the countries that speak it as a native language.

I’m working on it.

My parents both spoke French. My dad also studied German for his Ph.D., as well as Latin through college. My mother also studied Russian and Chinese.

Knowing more than one language was always expected of me. My parents put me in Spanish classes when I was little. And my friends’ parents put them in French, which sounded way cooler. Plus, the French teacher would give out goodies, including candy, but the Spanish teacher did not.

Meanwhile, I’d go to the library and try to learn Russian out of a book designed for kids. Out of all of that study, I remember one word: молоко (milk).

I wound up resenting having to take Spanish. The first time I got a choice, when I was in 10th grade, I enrolled in German. German because the French classes were full, and thus began another round of linguistic resentment. Though, I tried to console myself, if I went for a Ph.D. (which seemed a given at the time), German would be an acceptable language, so it was all for my long-term good. Right?

I didn’t actually take French until I went to college.

When my parents went (separately, as they were divorced) to Costa Rica and Nicaragua — I didn’t understand why anyone would want to go.

Over time, I’ve studied smatterings of a bunch of different languages: Hawai’ian, Middle Egyptian, Italian, and Yoruba among them. Just not the language next door.

I never again attempted to study Spanish, but I did finally take a course in Spanish literature and cultural history (of Spain, not of other Spanish-speaking countries), and it was a really great class.

That’s kind of when my transition started — from thinking Spanish was largely irrelevant to my life to becoming interested in the history and culture of Spanish-speaking countries.

Rick and I went on a cruise from Barcelona to southern Spain to Morocco (and the Canary Islands and Madeira) in 2011.

Then, in 2012, there was a glitch that allowed certain short-haul one-way award tickets to be booked for 10,000 miles — and the routing was extremely lenient due to a bug. The usual rules allow for 4 hours between flights without counting as a domestic stopover, but it’s 24 hours for international.

Thus, you could fly, say: San Francisco-Los Angeles-Houston-Guatemala City, stay less than 24 hours, and fly Guatemala City-Houston-San Jose (California). That would be 10,000 miles instead of 35,000. So, for a grand total of $27.60 and 10,000 miles each (plus a hotel room we paid for), Rick and I went to Guatemala. I also visited El Salvador, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica that year.

And I loved each and every one, though I liked Costa Rica the most. Of the four, Nicaragua’s the place I’d most love to go back and spend more time in, partly because of Ometepe.

So we went back to Costa Rica, spending a day in Nicaragua, too. I found that I understood the Costa Rican Spanish pretty well, and I started wondering why I’d ever felt it was intimidating.

Panamanian Spanish and Chilean Spanish are another thing entirely, and it reminded me of my big problem with Spanish: it’s generally spoken intimidatingly quickly for me.

There we were, driving around, wondering what the number twelve was in Spanish when we were trying to speak to our cab driver (who spoke very little English). I come up with French (douze), Middle Egyptian (mḏw sn.wy for masculine form iirc), Yoruba (èjìlá) — the only language I know of that uses subtraction for expressing numbers, and Hawai’ian (`umikūmālua).

But Spanish? I got nothing.

Our cab driver says doce and both Rick and I looked at each other with that look where we clearly had both been searching our brains searching for the word — and failing to find it.

And, thanks to The Offspring, I will always have Spanish numbers go through my head this way: “uno dos tres cuatro cinco cinco seis.” So not helping.

Mount Arenal, Costa Rica

Mount Arenal, Costa Rica.

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