As I have discussed -- here? elsewhere? mostly in my own brain? -- the beginning stages of novel-writing look a lot like wandering around the house aimlessly. Followed by writing. Followed by revision. Followed, only then, by obsessing about language. Novel-writing is long -- for me, in the early stages, language-matters are indulgences that interfere with the work that must be done: research, writing, revision, and wandering around the house.
But that obsession with language is hard to let go of. During early-stage novel writing, it comes out in other ways.
Example from some crackers I was eating this weekend: "Natural Flavor with other natural flavor."
Natural flavor with other natural flavor? Look, I hate to be a graduate student about this, but:
a) Can I get an S? Natural flavorS with other natural flavorS.
b) Or articles? A natural flavor with another natural flavor might also work.
c) What does this even mean? Are we talking about flavor or ingredients? Flavor means taste. Is their point that these crackers taste like two things? Crackers and sweet onions? Sweet potatoes (their main ingredient which is why I bought them. I am a sucker for sweet potatoes) and rice? Salt and crunchy? Bananas and bologna? Flavor and flavor?
d) Or do they mean ingredients? Because flavor does not mean ingredients. But that does seem to be what's implied here. I chose these, in fact, because their ingredient list was short, recognizable, and non-chemical. These crackers contained actual foods on their ingredient list, foods such as sweet potatoes and rice. But then you'd think the copy might read: Sweet potatoes with rice. Instead of natural flavor with other natural flavor.
e) Flavor means taste. All flavors are natural. Their cause might well be artificial, but their taste on the tongue is natural. And natural.
f) There are only two reasons makers of crackers put copy on their boxes: to make me buy them or to make sure I don't sue them for having done so. I honestly can't imagine which this is.
And then check this out:
This sign is in the women's locker room where my kid takes swim lessons. I can only assume this is vandalism, a joke, but if so it's awfully well done -- I couldn't see any scratched out or scraped off letters. It is, in any case, someone's intention, be it the makers and hangers of the sign or someone with a pretty good sense of humor. So I ask you:
a) Is the final word here meant to be gender? Because at the very least they probably mean sex.
Unless b) they mean gender in which case bravo and more power to 'em though I'm not sure that requires signage at that point. Maybe this is too long: "Children six years [of??] age and older must use the locker room which best aligns with their gender performance always acknowledging that that performance is culturally imposed and interpreted, subject to change, and may lie outside the two (falsely dichotomous) locker room options herein presented."
c) Or maybe it's literal where end=genitalia. Which I love.
d) Or maybe it bespeaks everyone's eventual demise. We don't want to think about it in very young children, but by six, you're old enough to consider that someday we must all shuffle off this mortal coil. Another too long sign: "Those whose off-shuffling will be in a car, a body of water, a hospital room, a mountain slope, or a dog park must use the women's locker room. Those for whom it will be a bedroom or other room in a private home, a yoga studio, a glacier crevasse, a boat, a ballpark, or a movie theater must use the men's locker room. We know you don't know, but guess."
About The Author
Laurie Frankel writes novels (reads novels, teaches other people to write novels, raises a small person who reads and would like someday to write novels) in Seattle, Washington where she lives on a nearly vertical hill from which she can watch three different bridges while she's staring out her windows between words. She's originally from Maryland and makes good soup.