Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Words Needed

My sister sent me an article about the early Christian missionaries to the Inuit in Alaska. The Inuit had no word for bread, since they did not grow grain and had never baked bread. The missionaries therefore adapted the Lord's Prayer to read "Give us this day our daily fish."

The Germans have a useful word, "Schadenfreude," to describe the (guilty) pleasure felt at the misfortunes of others. English has no single equivalent. Like Inuit and gloating Englishmen, writers, too, lack several useful words. We need:

* a word to describe the complex of emotions -- hope, anxiety, fear of rejection -- that a writer feels while waiting to hear from an editor or agent about his/her manuscript

* a word to capture the lovely sensation of a character suddenly springing to life and pulling the plot in a direction you didn't expect but which is really exciting. (and which it just took me 25 words to describe)

* a word to encapsulate the feeling of one's very first story sale -- "pride," "pleasure," or "triumph" don't even come close.

English may be a rich language, but these additions are needed.

6 comments:

Mary Robinette Kowal said...

Rejectomancy covers many of the sensations that come with waiting for back about a manuscript.

Ken Schneyer said...

I was going to mention rejectomancy too, before MRK beat me to it. Although that one, really, applies more to the attempt to predict, or to devine the meaning of, one or more rejections.

German is useful because it allows you to make new words out of combinations of old words. In that spirit, maybe the word is manuscripticipation?

The feeling you describe about a character is a special case of the more general feeling one experiences with, say, a child who grows beyond expectations. In the general case I'd be inclined to use a term like genesisawe (hm, shorten to genisawe?) or metamorphawe. Then, in Deutsche fashion, we simply add the prefix: charactogenesisawe or charactometamorphawe.

Maybe publishiphoria for the last feeling you mentioned? (I experienced it a year ago, and had a very similar rush a few weeks ago when I got into Clarion. But the real word I've been using to describe both those experiences is validation (which isn't a feeling) Maybe validationiphoria?)

A.R.Yngve said...

The complex of emotions -- hope, anxiety, fear of rejection -- that a writer feels while waiting to hear from an editor or agent about his/her manuscript:
"Neurosis"

A word to capture the lovely sensation of a character suddenly springing to life and pulling the plot in a direction you didn't expect but which is really exciting:
"Authorship"

A word to encapsulate the feeling of one's very first story sale -- "pride," "pleasure," or "triumph" don't even come close:
"Success"

(OK, these are lame puns. ;-))

Mike Flynn said...

a word to describe the complex of emotions -- hope, anxiety, fear of rejection -- that a writer feels while waiting to hear from an editor or agent about his/her manuscript

Try "fishy."

Hey, it worked for the missionaries.

The Choctaws had never seen a horse before, so they combined issa [deer] and subah [big] to get subah [kinda like a deer only bigger].

Actually, Shadenfreude is two words: Shaden [shame] and Freude [joy], bt German lets you run words together. In English, we hyphenate or adjectivize: so, "shame-joy" or "shameful joy."
+ + +
the lovely sensation of a character suddenly springing to life

Erwachenschocken.

gdtownshende said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
gdtownshende said...

Definitely! It's rather like Greek having different words for different types of love, and for us say the equivalent in English requires the use of two or three words.

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