Must You Suffer for Your Art?

Robin Williams

Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society

This past week, there’s been an abundance of news stories and reflections on the life of a comedic genius and extraordinary actor, Robin Williams. Despite his public persona as the funny man, he clearly suffered from deep depression and suicidal thoughts. There’s been plenty of debate about his life, the causes of his suicide, and what those suffering from depression should or can do.

I’m not getting into any of that.

But several articles also suggested a link between creativity and “insanity,” or perhaps better called “instability.” After all, Seneca the Younger (an ancient Roman philosopher) said: “There is no great genius without some touch of madness.”

We have a character archetype of the mad genius or the suffering artist — the person whose creative tendencies keep him from eating or sleeping or succeeding in relationships. We certainly have many examples of brilliant, yet self-destructive, artists — from Vincent Van Gogh to Ernest Hemingway to Janis Joplin to Heath Ledger. And we rightfully pay homage to their creative contributions.

But I want to speak up and squash the myth that you must be a mess inside to produce excellent work outside. The suffering artist type is often romanticized, and I think it’s bunk.

"The suffering artist type is often romanticized, and I think it's bunk."

Yes, our difficulties in life can make us more aware of senses and emotions and underlying truths. I do believe that some become artists because of the lives they have experienced and their subsequent desire to speak to the flawed human condition. But I don’t think it’s a necessary avenue that one must have massive hardship to create well, or that you must perpetuate suffering to continue your creativity. Indeed, the human experience itself is sufficient to produce all the material needed, since no one gets through this life without some challenges.

Sometimes I hear other writers talk fondly of sacrificing so much for their art. One keynote speaker at a conference I attended even recounted the failure of his first marriage as simply the cost of pursuing his creative path. How heartbreaking! Is it not possible to create excellent art and live a happy life at the same time?

Let me assure you that many others have done exactly that. (Personally, I’ve been heartened by the successful comeback of Robert Downey, Jr., who stopped torturing himself with drugs and has produced some of his best film work since.) It’s well worth the effort to be both excellent at creativity and at life.

Yes, Robin Williams’s work will be remembered and cherished for years, but what about the heartache he endured? The family he left behind? The memory of a life gone too soon? I choose to believe that Williams’s amazing talent would have flourished with a happier life as well. Because talent can be like that — it can thrive in bad times and good.

If you’ve bought into the myth of the tortured artist and you’re accepting life pain for the sake of creativity, for heaven’s sake, I’m begging you to stop. Trust that your talent goes deeper than that. Trust that you can have, and deserve to have, a happier life. Get help if you need it. Be a creative, yet happy, soul.

Other excellent articles I read on this topic: Why I Hate the Myth of the Suffering Artist; Scientifically-Backed Reasons Why Being Creative Can Make You Happier

As a happy person myself, let’s now see how creative I was this past week. Following is my weekly update on A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

ROW80 Update

1. Finish editing Sharing Hunter, young adult contemporary novel. Seven more chapters completed. It’s going quite well, and I hope to be finished in a couple of weeks.

2. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. I’m aiming for September releases and will tackle this goal when #1 is finished.

3. Read 12 books. This week, I read Radiant (novella) and Boundless by Cynthia Hand, Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock, and Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter. Not counting the novella, I’ve read 6 books this round (halfway there).

4. Attend RWA Conference and Day of YA in San Antonio and follow-up as needed. I polished up my query, delivered it to a critiquer, and I’m waiting for feedback.

One bit of happy news! My novel, Sharing Hunter, finaled in the young adult category for the New Jersey Romance Writers of America Put Your Heart in a Book Contest. My thanks to those who put on these chapter contests, which offer valuable feedback and opportunities to hone one’s writing.

So what do you think of the “suffering artist” stereotype? Is there truth to it?Do you believe it’s necessary to suffer in order to produce great art?

And how was your week?

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My Recent Travels and #ROW80

From July 12 through August 3, I was out of town 17 of 23 days. So it’s no wonder I’ve been a bit MIA on my blog. I’ve been catching up this last week, and I thought I’d catch y’all up too.

Here are my recent travels, summarized with photos:

Camp Staff Photo

Here I am in the front, on the staff of 89 adults who led church camp at a facility on the Medina River near Bandera, Texas. It was my ninth year to attend and my first year to teach story writing classes to kids ages 9 through 16.

Kids at camp

If 89 staff members sounds like a lot, it’s only because there were 360 campers.

DSC_1799

In addition to teaching writing classes, I also got to teach the younger kids one night. I absolutely love getting to hang out with elementary-age children.

Julie at camp

It was a fabulous experience, but admittedly, I was not looking my best by the end of the week. For instance, fashion was not forefront on my mind. (If only you could see the knee socks and tennies I actually wore with this shirt and skirt combo. Hey, it was raining!)

I returned home on a Saturday evening and hit the road again on a Tuesday morning — heading to the Romance Writers of America (RWA) National Conference in San Antonio.

Diana and Me on Riverwalk

I got to hang out with the lovely Diana Beebe (fantasy author) at the Marriott on the Riverwalk. (You wouldn’t believe how long it took for us to get this fuzzy selfie of ourselves with that view.)

Steampunk party

Diana twisted my arm (not much twisting required) to attend a Steampunk-themed party one evening, hosted by the terrific Fantasy, Futuristic & Paranormal chapter of RWA. [Shown in photo: Callene Rapp, Tameri Etherton, Diana, and me.]

The conference was wonderful…and huge. Texas-size huge. It’s one thing to visualize being among 2,000 writers, and another thing to experience being one among so many pursuing and enjoying a writing career. I learned so much and interacted with such encouraging people. It was an unforgettable week.

RITA Awards with Friends

The week culminated in the RITA awards ceremony, a formal event during which the highest awards for published and unpublished books are given to romance authors. [Shown in photo: Same people, opposite order.]

Laura Drake and Me

One super-special treat was being there when Laura Drake was announced as the RITA winner for best debut novel, The Sweet Spot. Congratulations, Laura! Well-deserved.

Then it was home for four days and back on the road. (I’m starting to hear Willie Nelson’s “On the Road Again” in my head.) Because I was meeting up with family members to enjoy a weekend in Round Top — a population-91 town in Texas that has made a name for itself with great shops, fabulous food, and interesting sites.

Royers Cafe

One place where we ate delicious food was Royers Cafe, which has been featured in numerous newspapers, magazines, TV networks, and the Food Network. Yum!

Julie with Osmonds lunchbox

We checked out several antique shops, including this one where I located an Osmonds lunchbox. Having been a huge Donny Osmond fan when I was a young girl, I had to get a picture. If it hadn’t had a $49 price tag . . .

Black Cat Choir performing

In addition to wonderful shopping, the town had a court yard area outside the Stone Cellar restaurant where bands perform in the evenings. Here’s the Black Cat Choir covering 70s rock.

Finally, by August 3, I was back home and ready for some R&R. But that’s not all I’ve been doing. Indeed, with all of my traveling, I’ve skipped a couple of check-ins for A Round of Words in 80 Days.

So here’s the scoop, and how I’m doing with my writing goals.

ROW80 Update

1. Finish editing Sharing Hunter, young adult contemporary novel. Burning it up, y’all! I’m so excited. I love how it’s coming together. I whipped through maybe nine chapters this past week of rewrite, edit, polish. If only you could see my happy dance . . .

2. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. I’m now aiming for September releases, but I did get some excellent feedback from fellow writers on my back cover copy. As soon as #1 above is done, I’ll be tackling this goal.

3. Read 12 books. I should have kept better track. I’ve let my Goodreads account go idle the past couple of weeks. However, I believe I’ve read the following: City of Bones (Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare, Hallowed by Cynthia Hand, and I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You by Ally Carter. (By the way, I met Ally Carter at RWA, and she is both a genuinely fun person to spend time with and a great author.) So that makes 3 books down, 9 to go.

4. Attend RWA Conference and Day of YA in San Antonio and follow-up as needed. Obviously, I went! Now for the follow-up. When I got home, I connected with those authors I’d met at RWA and had contact information for. Now I’m pulling together the manuscript to send it to those who made requests.

So that’s it! Now how’s your summer gone? Have you been busy, or enjoying the lazy days of summer? And if you’re doing ROW80, how are your goals coming along?

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My Writing Process: Vlog Edition

My lovely friend and author extraordinaire Christina Delay tagged me in the Writing Process Blog Hop. Christina writes fabulous young adult novels with a mythological bent. If you want to check out her writing process, click here.

Since I’d written before about my writing process, I decided to give this one a go through video. Hope you enjoy my vlog answers!

I’m tagging three writers, all of whom I recently saw at the RWA Conference in San Antonio: Diana Beebe, Callene Rapp, and Angela Quarles. As usual, if you’ve already participated or want to pass, feel free to skip.

The questions:

  1. What are you working on right now?
  2. How does your writing differ from others in your genre?
  3. Why do you write what you do?
  4. How does your writing process work?

Readers, feel free to answer any of those questions below!

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Coming to #RWA14? 6 Quick Tips from a Texan

I leave the Houston area tomorrow to travel to San Antonio for the national conference hosted by Romance Writers of America (RWA). Much to my satisfaction, we’ll be gathering on the San Antone Riverwalk — a fabulous location to get a glimpse of Texas.

Riverwalk photo

By Zereshk, via Wikimedia Commons

Since many writers, agents, and presenters will be coming from other states around the country, I thought I’d throw out a few practical things non-residents might want to know.

1. Yes, it’s blazing hot. Now I personally don’t balk at 90°-degree weather. Being a native Texan, that only strikes me as warm weather. But hey, we like to crank it up even higher, to ridiculous temps like the 97° to 100° Fahrenheit predicted for the next five days. Add in 75% humidity, and you’ve got a nice little heat wave happening in San Antonio.

So pack light — as in light clothing that will be comfortable in the heat. Remember that looser, thinner clothing, like a sundress or linen pants, will allow for air flow and comfort more than a pair of jean shorts and a cotton tee. And flip-flops are standard attire.

2. We air-condition. Don’t forget the jacket or sweater, though. Every building you enter will have air conditioning, almost always central A/C. So just because it’s hot outside doesn’t mean it’s hot inside. If you’re prone to getting cold, you’ll like want something to layer on top of your summer outfit while sitting in a workshop or standing in a book line. Grab the jacket, sweater, shrug, pashmina, or whatever, but be prepared that it could feel cool inside.

3. Tex-Mex is its own cuisine. I’ve had New-Mex and Cal-Mex and down-in-Mexico-Mex, and they are all different. If you’ve had an enchilada in New Mexico, it won’t be made the same in Texas. So if you decide to give San Antonio’s Mexican cuisine a try, go ahead and ask questions about what things are. Ask how spicy a particular sauce will be or what ingredients are put in a dish. We love our Tex-Mex, and we hope you will too, so we’re happy to answer any questions and help you order something you’ll enjoy. And we won’t even make fun if you, as one Boston friend of mine did, mispronounce jalapeño (it’s ha-la-peen-yo, not jah-lah-pen-oh).

4. The Alamo is not big. Yes, I know everything is supposed to be bigger in Texas, and it mostly is. But people often see a movie based on the Alamo and then expect to see a large Spanish mission and surrounding grounds. In fact, most of the original Alamo fort is gone. The facade and courtyard remain, but the Alamo’s land is now filled with downtown buildings. The Alamo is still worth visiting and a very interesting historical site, but know ahead of time that it isn’t big. If you want a more complete look at mission life, check out the Mission Trail, which includes Missions San José, Concepción, San Juan Capistrano, and Espada.

5. We don’t all have accents. It’s a pet peeve of mine when movies and TV shows have a Texan character, and they immediately shove a fake drawl onto the poor, unsuspecting actor. We don’t all have overly pronounced accents. Now of course you can tell that I’m from Texas by the way I speak, but I don’t talk like J.R. from Dallas. And frankly, few of us sound super-country.

So you won’t need a translator! ;) But you might want a primer on the use of the word y’all. It’s the quintessential form of the plural you. There’s youy’all (more than one), and all y’all (a crowd). You might hear when leaving a store, “Come back, y’all!” — which isn’t a call to turn around right then and there, but simply a courteous you’re-welcome-back-anytime for you and all those you’re with.

6. Buy a pair of cowboy boots while you’re here. My own confession is that I didn’t own a single pair of boots until I passed age 40. I wasn’t really a cowgirl, so I didn’t see the point. But now I’m 100% sold on the idea. If you’re interested and you’ve been waffling about making that purchasing decision, let me assure that we Texans don’t just wear boots for the look — boots are actually very comfortable and sturdy footwear, not to mention that there are many be-you-tiful choices these days.

Lucchese boots

Lucchese boots, made in Texas

Find a Western wear store while here and grab a pair of Justins for a workhorse boot, a pair of Ariats for comfort, maybe Corral for some fun looks, or go whole hog and grab some gorgeous Lucchese (pronunced loo-kay-see) boots. Don’t freak out about the $100 or up price tag: You’ll be wearing those boots for a long time to come. Boots can be resoled again and again and last many, many years. My husband has a pair of boots older than our teenage children.

2014 RWA logoThat’s not much, but it’s a few things you might not have known before — or wanted a reminder about. If you’re looking for a good packing list, see Jami Gold’s Ultimate #RWA14 Conference Packing List and for more details on San Antonio, check out the new RWA 14 App.

What tips would you give for traveling to #RWA14? What other tidbits about Texas or San Antonio do you want to share? Or what questions can I (a born-and-bred Texan) answer for you?

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Lucky 7 & An Unlucky Fairy Godmother

One of my very favorite indie authors, Kait Nolan, tagged me for the Lucky 7 challenge. The rules?

Go to page 7 or 77 in your current WIP.

  • Go to line 7
  • Post on your blog the next 7 sentence or 7 lines — as they are!
  • Tag 7 people and do the same

A Little Fairy Dust coverSo here’s my entry from page 7 of A Little Fairy Dust, the next short story coming out (hopefully) in August! Faye is a fairy godmother in training, Jet is her ex, and she gets caught working a little magic.

“What is it, Faye?”

“Why should I tell you?” I dropped my caught-off-guard tone and moved to my he’s-still-a-liar tone. He’d hid plenty from me, so whatever I was up to was none of his business.

“Because you might be doing something else to sabotage the team.”

“Something else? What did I do before?”

Jet tilted his head and held up his casted hand, like it was a smoking gun.

“I didn’t do that,” I answered. “You punched the wall.”

[Now imagine a serious, booming voice.] “Why did Jet punch the wall? Why is he blaming Faye? Is Faye sabotaging the football team? Why is this guy named after a plane?

“Find out when you read A Little Fairy Dust – coming soon!” :)

ROW80 Goals

It’s time again to announce my goals for the next round of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life. Last round, I set only five goals and did reasonably well reaching them. I’m going to keep it streamlined once again.

1. Finish editing Sharing Hunter, young adult contemporary novel. I’m already making better progress on this, by the way.

2. Edit, polish, and release two more short stories in my Paranormal Playground series. Release dates will probably be mid-August and late September.

3. Read 12 books. This remains a good number for me, and my reading will include both fiction and nonfiction.

4. Attend RWA Conference and Day of YA in San Antonio and follow-up as needed. The conference is July 23-26.

That’s it! A few specific goals that are do-able, yet stretch me all the same.

I am forgoing sponsor duty this time around, since summers are kind of crazy for me, but I’m glad to stay involved. ROW80 has been a boost to my work productivity and a great chance to support other authors. If you’re a writer looking for some inspiration, motivation, and/or accountability, check it out here.

How’s your writing or your week gone? What goals have you set for yourself? And, just for fun, who’s your favorite fairy in fiction?

Posted in ROW80, Writing, Young Adult | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

4 Tips for Writing a Short Story

I recently wrote a guest article at Writers in the Storm on 6 Reasons to Write a Short Story. So that was a bit of why, but how do you craft an effective short?

While there is much advice about writing novels that translates to writing short fiction, other aspects don’t seem to apply. For instance, the story structure for novels — with various theories, diagrams, acrostics, and outlines — doesn’t fit a lot of successful short stories.

By researching, taking an RWA course on short stories, reading other stories to see what worked (and what didn’t), and using trial-and-error, I came up with my own tips for writing a short story.

1. Limit your characters. You don’t have enough time and space to develop many characters. Just as you wouldn’t introduce twelve people in chapter one of a novel, don’t overload the short story reader with too many names and faces.

Make sure every character must be there.

  • Does each character contribute to this particular storyline?
  • If you have two secondary characters each serving a purpose, can you mesh their purposes and create a composite character?
  • Does your main character need so many friends or family members?
  • Can you refer to a character by their profession or appearance, such as “the police officer” or the “red-headed cheerleader”?

If you need to mention several people, maybe you can link them more generally. For instance, you could refer to a group of friends by their leader’s name, like “Rudy and his gang.” Or group them in a memorable way.

In my upcoming short, A Little Fairy Dust, the main character, a fairy godmother-in-training, has three sisters, all with names beginning with F. Having their names all start with the same letter allows the reader to immediately recognize a sister without needing to know exactly who’s who. Although be careful not to be gimmicky; have a story reason for your choices as well.

2. Forget those subplots. Choose a main plotline, and maybe one subplot. You can’t weave several plots together the way you can in a novel. Know who and what your story is about, and stick to that.

If you’ve ever written a query, synopsis, back cover copy, or an “elevator pitch,” you already understand this principle. When describing a novel, you stick to the main story with the protagonist, the antagonist, the primary conflict, and its resolution. Approaching a short requires the same perspective: Whittle away at the whole convoluted story to find the core element within.

Indie author Kait Nolan does this well in her Meet Cute romances, a series of shorts celebrating the first meeting of a romantic couple. As she explains, “You’ve got a very narrow window that requires quick and ruthless worldbuilding and leaves no room for you to get distracted by other stories beyond your main plot—and that includes backstory. Don’t overcomplicate by trying to tell more than one story.”

3. Squish the timeline. One of my stories happens in the course of a few hours, and another occurs over the course of four months. But in both, the timeline is truncated—by choosing a single event or by sharing only slivers of the whole story.

Shrinking the timeline to a single day or hours can give your short story a sense of urgency—that now-or-never feel.

My Sister's Demon book coverOr you can cover a longer period of time, but expect to leave stuff out and do a little telling to catch readers up. This can work well with internal or external dialogue as the main character reflects on something that happened during a time gap. For instance, there’s a month gap each between most chapters in My Sister’s Demon, so at one point the main character summarizes:

In the last month, she’s bought all kinds of not-Nickie stuff—everything from a black-and-blood-red clothing line to bags of marijuana to creepy wooden idols she found in some weird magic shop.

With one sentence, the reader gets the overall picture: things got worse. Slid seamlessly into real action time, you can keep the reader up-to-date, cover a greater time span, and maintain your focus.

4. Remember the arc. While studying up on short stories, I read many examples from writers that weren’t stories at all. They were scenes or interesting premises, but conflict and a growth arc were missing. A beautifully described scene or character is not a short story. The same character arc applies to short fiction: Your hero must face an obstacle and change as a result.

Make your main character face his fears, encounter difficulties, wrestle with a villain, fight for true love. There should still be an inciting incident, crossing of a threshold, building of stakes, a climax, resolution.

You won’t have as many plot points as you would in a well-structured novel, but you might be surprised how well you can cover a character arc even in a short story. Think of how many times in your own life you’ve learned something important from a single, attitude-altering event.

Just like in a novel, make each word count in your short story. But feel free to use a little trial and error yourself. Shorts can be a great way to step out of your comfort zone, tell an impactful story, and hone your writing skills.

ROW80 Wrap-Up

Yep, this is the final report for Round 2 of A Round of Words in 80 Days, the writing challenge that knows you have a life.

1. Read 12 books. I read 13 books and one short story. In case you’re curious, here’s the list:

  • Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point-of-View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson (nonfiction craft)
  • Unearthly by Cynthia Hand (YA paranormal)
  • Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight V. Swain (nonfiction craft)
  • The Collector by Victoria Scott (YA paranormal)
  • The Quantum League: Spell Robbers by Matthew J. Kirby (middle grade paranormal)
  • Self-Publishing Attack by James Scott Bell (nonfiction craft)
  • Top Ten Uses for an Unworn Prom Dress by Tina Ferraro (YA contemporary)
  • After the Scandal by Elizabeth Essex (historical romance)
  • Stupid Cupid by Tina Ferraro (YA contemporary short)
  • Defiant by Jessica Trapp (historical romance)
  • How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles (YA contemporary)
  • No More Christian Nice Girl: When Just Being Nice–Instead of Good–Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer D. PhD Degler (nonfiction)
  • Sketchy Behavior by Erynn Mangum (YA suspense)
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green (YA contemporary)

2. Finish editing SHARING HUNTER, a young adult contemporary novel. Once again, I did not complete this. But I’m so amped about where I am now that I almost don’t care. (Almost.) I’ll push this goal to next round, but I expect to get it done soon.

3. Edit one short story to publication quality. Last week, I still hadn’t hear back from everyone about my next cued story, A Little Fairy Dust. But I’d rather hold that one until I’m absolutely certain it’s ready for publication. It’s almost there. But I also did the last polish and formatting for another short in the series.

4. Publish and promote two short storiesMy Sister’s Demon was published on May 15, and I flipped my planned sequence and released The Vampire Exclusive on Friday, June 27.

The Vampire Exclusive cover

Click for link to Amazon

5. Stay on top of ROW80 sponsor duties. In total, I visited 64 ROW80 updates, and I think I hit everyone who participated in this round at one time or other. I truly find it inspirational to see how other writers are progressing by setting manageable goals and taking important steps in their writing journey.

Are you a fan of short stories? What tips do you have from reading or writing shorts? And how was your week or your round?

Posted in ROW80, Writing, young adult short stories | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

10 Words We Don’t Use Enough

The marvelous Jenny Hansen knows how much I love studying words and grammar, so she sent me a fabulous article on Important Infrequently Used Words to Know.

Among the words listed are some I’ve used with fair frequency, like alacrityegregious, gratuitous, hubris, poignant, sycophant, and veracity. But there are plenty I almost never use, like copacetic, fatuous, insipid, misanthrope, polymath, and unctuous — even though I know that they mean. (I won’t talk about the ones I had to look up!)

But there are plenty of other words I use, which maybe we don’t use quite enough. Here’s my own list of 10 words you might want to include in your vocabulary:

Boondocks. I thought everybody used this word, until I recently had a teenager read a story of mine and comment that she didn’t know that word and didn’t think anyone in her age cohort did. *sigh* It means way out there in isolated country. Like “I had to drive an hour outside of town to reach his lone shack out in the boondocks.” Although I’m more likely to use it as in, “Where is my car in this mall parking lot? Oh, yeah. I parked out in the boondocks.”

Conniption (Fit). So the word is conniption, but I never say it without immediately following with the word fit. What’s a conniption fit? Well, conniption means the full range of hysterics. So a conniption fit is what you have when you discover your two-timing boyfriend is at it again or your children have left another mess in the middle of your living room or the election ballot once again provides two completely unacceptable choices.

Hissy vs. Conniption Fit Mug - available from Zazzle.com

Available from Zazzle.com

Eschatology. Ever wonder when the world will come to an end and how? Then, you might be intrigued by eschatology, a branch of theology that deals with the end of the world’s history and/or humankind. It may sound a little depressing, but it’s quite interesting to hear all the theories of what a grand finale might look like.

FlabbergastedWhy go for simply “surprised” when you can amp it up and say you’re flabbergasted? Synonyms include “astonished,” “perplexed,” and “amazed.”

Gobsmacked. Need something even more than flabbergasted? Hello, gobsmacked. You gotta love a word that sounds like its meaning. Gobsmacked is like “surprised” on steroids. When you just can’t believe something, you’re gobsmacked.

Julie demonstrating "surprised," "flabbergasted," and "gobsmacked"

HippopotamiSure, you say hippopotamus, but do you look for opportunities to say hippopotami? Personally, I’m not entirely happy if I see a single hippo; it just sort of takes away from the pronunciation fun of punctuating that final long i. You can also extend the fun with other -us to -i words, such as cacti and octopi and radii and alumni. (Yes, I know you can also say hippopotamuses, but where’s the fun in that? ;) )

That last entry is in honor of “Hip Jenny,” who is recovering from recent hip surgery.

Lackadaisical. Welcome to summer with teenagers! However, this word gets used in my house throughout the year. It means lazy, listless, idle, unambitious, slothful. You may live with someone who qualifies as lackadaisical or have a few days when you meet that definition yourself.

Persnickety. Got a nitpicking, finicky person in your life? This word entered my routine vocabulary with the arrival of my second son and his picky eating habits. But persnickety has come in rather handy in a number of other situations, when someone is a bit too fussy about this or that.

Rambunctious. Anyone who has children or has been to a rock concert needs this word. Google’s dictionary defines it as “uncontrollably exuberant; boisterous.” If you’re trying to imagine this word in action, just think Chuck E. Cheese. Pretty much everything going on in there describes rambunctious.

Surreptitious. I likely hear this word in mysteries more than any other place. Which makes sense, since it means “done in a secret way,” or on the sly. Surreptitious brings to my mind such actions as peeking, sneaking, and spying. That guilty pleasure of yours? Do that surreptitiously.

Which of these words do you use or want to add to your vocabulary? And what words do you use with some frequency that you don’t think we all use enough?

Posted in Amazing Words Wednesday, Words and Grammar | Tagged , , , , , | 30 Comments