Saturday, September 10, 2005

Da Vinci Code for beginners

It's bathetic, really.
First one must learn the language.
You may feel this point obvious and of no account, something like advice on "How To Shit in the Woods." Good book, by the way.
I don't mean learning basic English or Urdu. Or Peterborough pictographs and hieroglyphs. Or gnomic riddles. I mean the industry language.
Every societal group developes short forms, idioms, slang and acronyms. Like belly buttons, the wordspeak separates the innies and outies. Cheerfully aware of my ignorance about the latest mot-cle, mot d'ordre and mot juste, I set out to learn at least enough so when a native says "there's a swamp that way,"maybe I'll have sense enough to pick another path.

Usually the meanings of this specialized patois can be deciphered by context. Usually. If an erotique writer's blog is the first context in which you first encounter the term, POV, you may wonder - perhaps affected by all that spam in your in-box - if it means "perverts on viagra." You may wonder if WIP is a mis-spelling. Oh dear. Not your thing. Oh no, not at all. It's alright to be a little old-fashioned, isn't it? Things certainly have changed. Probably a good thing, all in all, really, just - not your thing. Ah well. You hit the "next blog" button.
Eventually, though, some kind soul writes the term in full and you understand. You think of going back and writing a kind note on the erotique site.
Then you discover HEA. HEA? What are they blowing up? I thought this was a romance site...Oh, I see, happily ever after...TSTL? Is this another erotique term or a medical one? It sounds sexually transmitted. Oh. Too stupid to live. You feel you are.

And then there are terms like slush pile, aka the largest industrial vacant lot in the listing, the urban swamp. Possibly your future home. You learn that not only do editors have slush piles for writers, they also have slush piles for agents. You eye the native guides uneasily. You puzzle over high concepts - just the old radio contest entry of 25 words or less, tarted up, you figure - chicklit - you did manage to figure out why it's not called chickfic, blurbs, and head-hopping - which is sprong, sprong, pogo POV. Your vocabularly expands to include the names of conferences and other nifty insider things.

Slowly, you are breaking the code.


Muse said...

Kathleen Meyer, 1989. How to Shit in the Woods. Berkeley, Califonia: Ten Speed Press. ISBN: 0-89815-319-0

Good book indeed. Pages single ply but thick and absorbent. Biodegradable. Opens with this epigraph from Aesop's Fables: "I dyde shyte thre grete toordes."

Robyn said...

I have got to read that book.

And my favorite code? SIP.

Stud In Pain.