Green's Hill-Amy Lane's Home - News

Thursday, June 26, 2014

A little o' this, a little o' that, a little o' @#$%!

Mostly just chilling with Chicken and chewing the fat…

Seriously-- fun stuff going, but nothing earth shattering.

Does Johnnie look thrilled?  He should!  Rhys Ford gave my Boobie Hamster a shout-out at The Novel Approach, while pimping Tequila Mockingbird-- a book I personally can't wait to read, btw.  (I shall pimp it on July 6th's *kermit flail* Monday-- which reminds me, peeps, if you have a new release, hit me!)

This is exciting to me, as is the release of Behind the Curtain  on audio!  Speaking of audiobooks, I'm getting sort of a collection going, don't I?  The first three books of Promises, the Talker novellas, the first three Johnnies novellas-- Going Up, The Locker Room, A Solid Core of Alpha, Clear Water,… I'm sort of excited about how big the audio program is getting!

And in other news?  Well, I finished Black John.  Oh my God-- can I just say, I'm working on a short novella right now, something cute, and sweet, and fun, and adorable, and all the angst I've been writing is leeching into my happy happy!  I"m hoping it's all gone by the time I get to the Christmas novella, cause I'm sayin'… I need some happy in my head!

Also…

I've been thinking about a random comment somebody made-- which is dangerous.  It's something I haven't been able to get out of my mind, because it's one of my favorite subjects, and that means I've blogged about it before.

But I don't remember when.

It's about swearing.

I've written an Amy's Lane on the difference between porn and romance, and I've written one on how you can build a world based on what you say when you stub your toe,  but I don't remember if I've written any Amy's Lane columns on why I like to swear.  And why it doesn't mean you're stupid.

The thing is, like anything else in our language, swearing has an origin and a purpose.  Being able to manipulate swear words is just as important as being able to manipulate multi-syllabic latinate words--in fact, since the latinate words tend to obscure emotional punch, and a well-placed swear word can double it, it's wise not to underestimate the impact of a well-chosen blasphemy.

And the cool thing about swear words is that they're versatile.  I once grabbed the attention of a really recalcitrant freshman class by getting them to dissect the sentence "Fuck the fucking fucker who fucking fucked me."

It's sort of enlightening:

"Fuck (verb present tense) the fucking (adjective) fucker (noun) who fucking (adverb) fucked (verb past tense) me."

So, if you need to really nail a moment with something that shocks, something that surprises, something that can titillate, something that implies obscenity, something that implies violence, something that can fit in any part of a sentence you want to emphasize…

Well, it's a possibility.

It's not the only possibility-- and it's always wise to think about cutting down on something, especially if you're using it for effect.

But here's the thing.  In the past, swear words have implied a certain decadence, a lack of morality or decency.  Girls didn't swear-- girls were too good to swear.  Gentlemen didn't swear-- unless really put to the test by their uppity women.  But the pushing of the sexual envelope has also pushed the language envelope, and why not?  Most of our best, most verboten swearwords are closely linked to our absolute terror of human sexuality-- in particular, the empowerment of female sexuality.

Erotic romance did it first--used the "big bad words" to make a sex scene hotter, and that opened the door. M/M romance (and NO, gay romance is NOT ALWAYS erotic romance!) has taken that freedom to use the "big bad" words and do something even more courageous than make us hot.

They've made it real.

Kurt Vonnegut once published a letter he'd written to a school district who burned his work.  (I love this letter-- I base a lot of my blogging technique on the flawless showing-not-telling displayed within.) In this letter he defends a sentence in Slaughterhouse Five by saying, "A soldier swears.  Soldiers use coarse language." (I paraphrased.)  And I grew up with people swearing around me-- I loved those forbidden words.  The minute I was old enough, I embraced them-- those words gave me power over the male dominated conversations I was frequently privy too. To me, the world in which men and woman both swore was a world of verbal and social equality, and when I started writing the Little Goddess books, I embraced the holy fuck out of that.  When I wrote The Bitter Moon saga, I created an entire world, social class, prejudice, religion, belief system, family tradition, and mood, based purely on blasphemies--most of which can be freely repeated in any setting.  ("Triane's purple tits" is, perhaps, the one exception.)

When I switched to strictly M/M, I created characters who spoke the way the men around me swore.  Walking into my school staff room was an experience in swear-word submersion.  The one way I kept my head above water when I was there was swearing as well as or better than the men in the room.  I knew I was done with that bullshit when I didn't feel like swearing in that room anymore.

So I know how powerful swearwords can be-- and I am a firm believer in using them.

George Carlin once spoke about his childhood, and he talked about the nun who singled him out because he swore like a sailor fucking a trucker.  She understood that the ability to manipulate profanity to create humor required a specific, important type of intelligence, and, he freely admitted, she was one of the reasons he made it out of school.

So, no.  I can't be shamed by people who don't like my language.  I don't foresee ever a time when I don't look at a swearword for it's potential to create emotion and power in a situation.  I have taught my children the value of time and place, but I have never taught them that swear words are evil, or that they diminish their people-hood in any way.

Even our blasphemies define who we are; denying that part of us fucks us up by definition.  








7 comments:

Carolyne Kleinman said...

What can I say? A family of blacksmiths, Marines and butchers....the swearing vocabulary is gonna be pretty varied and as colorful as an explosion in a silk market. Personal opinion? Those who swear-shame those of us who are fluent in verbal graffiti are jealous of the art and the limits we raise it to.

Anthropomorphizing Deity is going to include all of the sexual and scatalogical analogies we can imagine thru the kaleidoscope of our emotions and experiences.

....and those who don't like it can go fuck a platypus.

(((hugs))

Carolyne Kleinman said...

What can I say? A family of blacksmiths, Marines and butchers....the swearing vocabulary is gonna be pretty varied and as colorful as an explosion in a silk market. Personal opinion? Those who swear-shame those of us who are fluent in verbal graffiti are jealous of the art and the limits we raise it to.

Anthropomorphizing Deity is going to include all of the sexual and scatalogical analogies we can imagine thru the kaleidoscope of our emotions and experiences.

....and those who don't like it can go fuck a platypus.

(((hugs))

Vastine Bondurant said...

I'm glad you addressed this! You know, I tend to write more profanity in my work, and almost stop and delete it. Then I start to REALLY look and ask myself, why AM I writing it?

And I'd never really pinpointed it until reading this. And I see it. My reason? I sit all day at work---five days a week, eight hours a day---listening to folks swear. The F*** word used in every sentence, whether it's an angry statement, a happy statement or just a statement in passing. Like you say...it IS life. It just is. And I agree that our characters need the freedom to BE real, even if that does include profanity.

And do I personally cuss? Oh, baby, you ought to hear me in traffic.

Thank you for sharing.

Chris Rose said...

I came to swearing a bit differently. I was raised in a family and an environment where swearing was considered...well, it was considered a sin and any use of swear words was met with punishment and correction. I can probably count on one hand the number of swear words I uttered right up to the age of about 23, when I decided that me and religion had suffered irreconcilable differences and would no longer being seeing each other. Yet even after that it still felt really odd to swear. I guess if you purposefully don't do something for almost a quarter of a century, it is bound to affect you even if you no longer care about the reason you didn't do it.

Even now, when I will happily drop a fucking shit load of swearwords into a conversation, there is a lingering thought in the back of my head that I am doing something wrong. I love swearing, I love that you can manipulate the swear word, that you can compound them to sound absolutely ridiculous, but still have their meaning come across. I do wish that I had grown up in an environment that was less restrictive (and not just because of the lack of swearing), one that taught you the importance of time and place, instead of just falling back on 'you shall not sin!!'. Mostly because swear words do have power and it seems like such a waste to deprive people of that power.

Janet Black said...

My mother was a firm believer in the idea that swearing showed lack of intelligence.....until she developed osteoporosis. Then she truly developed a skill with words.

sxswann said...

Well said.

I once had my mouth washed out with soap for saying CRAP. I think I was probably 9 or 10? My mother and her mother and her whole family had (sorry, have) BIG issues with swearing and of course many other things ;) Caused me a lot of issues - but that's another story :) I rarely swear around her because I can't be bothered to put up with her nonsense. She complains about the language in movies, etc etc Must be exhausting to be so put out about something that has exactly zero real impact on her life in general.

My dad and his father on the other hand, swore like sailors. (I haven't been around too many sailors. Is that still an apt comparison?) The lesson I learned there was another less than subtle one about what was "appropriate" for girls vs. boys.

I much prefer the British calm about language. I think they get slightly put out by the word cunt on TV, but that's about it. I couldn't agree more about embracing the power of words. Yes, time and place are important, but each of us needs to make those determinations for ourselves.

Roxie said...

As a master wordsmith, you have a flexible and extensive vocabulary and the wisdom to fit your expletives to the audience and occasion.