Mmmm, Salty! Or, Words as Seasoning


I love to cook. So much so that my “spells” are often referred to as “recipes.” Likewise, my personal recipe book is fondly known as my “spellbook.” Food is magical. Words are magical. So it’s no surprise to me that I think of words as seasoning.

Just stay with me a minute, here…

There’s a few blogs I read regularly, many of which are overly fond of the “F-bomb.” One, I understand why. She’s a rebel, she’s a fighter, she’s throwing convention out the window, making a point, and appealing to her audience. The rest seem more like teenagers trying too hard to rebel, pissing off their parents every chance they get just to be “cool.”

Let’s just look at that word, f*ck. We all know which word I’m talking about here. I’m not afraid to use it, just trying to be polite. And we all know what that word really means. By that, I’m talking about dictionary-definition. You know, coitus. In fact, more of us know what f*ck means than coitus. But that’s a completely different topic.

When I write, I do use this word. (F*ck that is, not coitus.) Not often, I think there’s maybe one or two f-bombs in over 70,000 words. The use depends on the situation and the character. I have striven, each time, to make sure that the word is appropriate where it is. Because it’s seasoning. To me, cuss words are salt. Not just because of the multiple uses of the word “salty,” but because if you use too much salt when you cook, that’s all you taste. And all you want is a big ole drink of water. It leaves you thirsty. Great if you own a bar (which is also ironically where you hear a lot of swearing), not necessarily so great in literature.

Some characters would, by their natureneverutter this word. Others might start, and catch themselves. There are some, who like the author of some of these blogs, would use them every other word. I don’t have any characters like that, nor do I think I ever will. Not as major characters, anyway. Maybe as dragon fodder…because rebellious teenagers aren’t really good for much plot-wise. Many of the characters I have right now use alternative cusses, or use less offensive swear words. It all depends on who they are.

I do avoid the term “f*cking.” Hold on, I’ll make sense here in a minute. I use it an awful lot in daily life…it just rolls off the tongue just right, I’ll admit. But when I’m writing the literal definition of the word just sticks in my craw. I mean, “pass the f*cking salt?” When was the last time salt was used inthatfashion?

Although, on a rather disgusting side-note, I did hear tell of a young woman who was using the spoons at a local restaurant in a creative fashion for personal pleasure, so “f*cking spoons” in that context would make sense. I know, ew. *shudder*

To get the absolute most use out of my analogy here, there are other kinds of seasoning, both in writing and in real life. Let’s look at my (semi-infamous) rant about fantasy fiction, for example…http://wp.me/p1lH4W-5Z. Over use of proper names that start with Q and X could be looked at as…well, something exotic like, say curry. Some people love curry and can’t get enough of it. Some people can’t even abide the smell. No matter how much you love curry, there is such a thing as too much…and that could easily ruin a dish no matter how well prepared it is.

So as much as I ranted in that post, I’ll admit that occasional use isn’t bad. Sometimes I’m in the mood for curry. I don’t want it all the time. I don’t want something that’s got so much curry in it I can’t taste the meat, vegetables, rice, or noodles however. That’s curry abuse. Or in this case, apostrophe or consonant abuse. Whichever.

Science-fiction has its own flavor as well, with all the jargon, lingo, and technical terms that get bantered about. Again, some people crave it regularly. Others pick it up and end up with an agonizing headache. Romance is much the same way…how many different words are there for various parts of the anatomy? Yeah, the phrase “throbbing member” is enough to make me throw down a book and start laughing. But many, many people can’t get enough of it.

Then there’s the people who really have a craving for something even though they know they aren’t going to take it well. Like horror movies and books right before bed. Bad for the mental digestion for many of us, others can watch or read morning, noon, and night with nary a disturbing thought or case of indigestion.

So I guess personal stamina might have something to do with it as well.

On the same note, sometimes I start something and realize I’m not in the mood for curry, I’m in the mood for Oregano. Nothing like pizza, right? And then that book will hit me all wrong. Not because it’s bad but because it’s just not what I was craving right then. I suppose I shouldn’t blame the book. Just put it down, find something else, and go back to it when I have a craving for its particular flavor.

There are some diehards out there who claim you should absolutely never-ever use swear words. You’ll never get published if you do. Seriously? Because I see it all the time in print. Again, not every other word…and some words seem to be more easily digested than others. I figure after the publication of Catcher in the Rye, we’ve pretty much seen everything. Ok, maybe not. There are some “new” words out there that I don’t even use. Well, not often anyway. Point being, I’ve seen plenty of published works with moderate to liberal use of the various “unacceptable words.” It seems that publication would be dependent on the publisher and the audience. After all, you’re not likely to see these words even referred to in “Christian” fiction, are you?

I’m going to forge ahead. I’m an artist after all. The words I choose are my seasoning, my flavor. Hopefully, I’ll find enough people out there with a healthy appetite and a fondness for my cooking.

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About Camylleon

I don't need gurus, and sure don't want to be one. I'm not here to buy stuff or to sell it. I am just another spiritual wanderer, trying to figure it all out. My blend? A little Santeria, a little Polytheism, a little Spiritism and shake gently. Comments are closed...because I detest drama. I'm not completely anti-social though. If you've got questions, shoot me a email. Camylleon at hotmail dot com...
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19 Responses to Mmmm, Salty! Or, Words as Seasoning

  1. Aubs Tea says:

    Is this post because of my tweet? 🙂

  2. ljwitch says:

    I’m all over the F word. I use it a lot in daily life, but I also don’t shy away from using it in blogging. I try not to overdo it, but if I rant, I can’t help meself.:D

    • Camylleon says:

      To me, you don’t ABUSE the f-word. Every time I’ve read your posts, you’ve used it quite reasonably. When you rant, all rules go out the window!

  3. FlyingPoppet says:

    Love the post….love my obscenity, too.

    Your comment about “Catcher in the Rye” really made me laugh out loud! 😀

    Swearing is fine…if it’s not a way to avoid using other words. Sometimes it seems like it has a stranglehold on an author’s style.

    • Camylleon says:

      Thank you! I love literary citations when appropriate and useful but most especially when humorous.

      Too true, sometimes authors use too many cuss words & it feels like a cop-out; they just couldn’t think of anything else.

  4. F-ing spoons? Damn, give ‘spooning’ a whole new meaning. On the F-ing note, I tend to moderately curse when a situation merits such or in casual conversation (boils down to maybe three words – f*ck, f*cking and shit; the word ‘mofo’ I don’t use at all…it has the word ‘mother’). On my blog and other writing I purposely avoid profanity because when I’m actually talking about things in real life I don’t use curse words like openand closed parentheses. Also, I know I can’t take most people that curse a lot too serious so I wouldn’t expect anyone similarly disposed toward profanity to take what I write seriously or even bother reading.

    On a slighly out-of-place note, this reminds me of a prayer written to Hekate that referred to her as ‘Bitch Goddess’ I was like..come again? I know the dictionary meaning just describes a female dog but I think the term’s more popular definition is too thoroughly ingrained in our culture for someone to say ‘Bitch Goddess’ and not be like “did I just call my Goddess a bitch?”. I know some women (and probably men too) thrive on identifying themselves as bitches (indeed it’s some of these seem to do it exactly for the reasons you describe, to look cool) and might project this onto their deities, spirits or w/e. I wouldn’t though seems iffy as hell. Anyway, now I’m ‘talking’ too much so mea culpa for the longish comment.

    Blessings.

    • Jessica says:

      Holy crap. Hecate and I are not BFF’s or anything so I don’t work with her a lot. I can’t say how other people deal with her but I would rather be shot than call her “Bitch Goddess.” There aren’t any of them I would call that. Wow.

      • Exactly. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the prayer was actually pretty good (and the book overall is pretty interesting) but I just felt then, as I do now, that maybe better wording could’ve been chosen. I know the reference is to Hekate’s association with dogs but using the aforementioned title doesn’t seem appropriate. Blessings.

    • Camylleon says:

      Yeah…that doesn’t sound like a really good idea, does it? I mean, I totally understanding reclaiming words and all that, but sometimes it simply isn’t going to work. Either the word is just too far gone (certain racist words come to mind) or it never *was* anything positive to begin with. (Thinking about Clerks II here, I’ll admit it) Bitch…isn’t going to be “reclaimed.” Not like that. And I wouldn’t start “reclaiming” it with Hecate. Bad idea.

      Okay…if we stretch it out as far as possible…and it was someone who was actually educated who wrote this…and they were using the phrase in context with dogs being sacred to Hecate….?

      Ok. No, that doesn’t even work. Sheesh.

      And never worry about being verbose in the comments. I love it. Seriously. Comment away…!!!

    • squeakerxmim says:

      You know I saw a prayer written once that referred to Oshun as the “sacred Puta”, and I honestly was offended by this. There are many people who refer to her as a “Puta” and various books who have referred to her as “La Santa Puta” and I really pity their souls. Oshun’s beauty is lost in these words. I don’t think anyone in their right mind would refer to her as this…
      Anyways I digress, I agree with you that calling Hecate the “Bitch Goddess” would not go anywhere in any invocation that would come from my lips.

      P.S. To my non-Spanish speaking homies out there, “Puta” is similiar to bitch or whore.

      • Wow. I know some Santeros and know a tiny bit about Santeria (it’s not a tradition I’m drawn to so I chose a long time ago to leave it alone) so my knowledge is not nearly encompassing in any fashion but I’ve never heard anyone refer to Oshun as a puta of any kind. As Camylleon noted above, there are people reclaiming things for years and amongst these you can find folks reclaiming the ‘holy whore’, ‘sorcerer/y’ hell even ‘warlock’. I’m not sure if this title or epithet of Oshun is a modern development (folks use more contemporary lingo) or if this has older roots; it’d certainly be more understandable if it was something carried over from older streams of the tradition. Even then I think it’d still be questionable.

      • squeakerxmim says:

        Well, one place I know for sure where this is stated is in Raul Carnizares’ work where he refers to her as “La Santa Puta”. In his work he says that the prostitutes of Cuba used to petition her for more work. Many people say that Oshun is very promiscuous because she is the spirit of women’s sensuality, flirting, fertility, and love. In my opinion, this is something that was applied by new world interpretation. When you look back to the traditional Yoruba pataki, you see that Oshun is much deeper than a love/fertility spirit. Oshun is the keeper of the Lukumi traditions, she is a warrior, she is the guardian of the Lukumi laws, and she is the generous spirit who protects those who serve her. In some of the literal translations from the Yoruba text she was raped by the IFA spirit Orunmila, and in which she questioned him as to why he would do such a thing. Now I can see the new world people changing this because Orunmila is supposed to be pure and has never done anything wrong.
        Anyways, I am babbling again. I agree with Camylleon, in the sense that it may be reclaiming that word (female empowerment all that), I mean the prayer that I saw that referred to her as the “Sacred Puta” was written by a woman, but again poor word choice. However, in the context that Mr. Carnizares wrote it, to me he lost all perspective of what Oshun embodies, and it just came off very egotistical and insulting.
        Either way, I don’t believe in calling a spirit anything that has such a negative context. It may be modern lingo, but it is still disrespectful to a certain degree. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me…

  5. Jessica says:

    Really, a woman was doing that IN the restaurant with spoons? (Aren’t you glad that’s what I took home from your post today? heehee)

    Seriously, though, I don’t use that word terribly often in my writing but if it shows up, it’s in dialogue. I have one girl in one story who is completely beside herself, is locked up, does not know where she is, no one will call her by her real name and they all treat her like she’s crazy. When she starts out calm, she just talks to the people around her. She is confused but socially polite. As she escalates and gets more afraid and more angry, her language escalates. You know…..like real people tend to do! I had one girl who reviewed my story say “I can’t believe you were so brave….I wish I could be brave enough to write that word.” Really? My character is really really upset. She is detained and terrified and being harmed. She isn’t going to say “shucks” or “darn” or “fudge.” That’s not who she is. She’s going to say “let me the hell out of here or I’m going to smash your fucking face in!” You get the idea. I think most writers use their judgment and it goes with their style and their character development, if it’s fiction.

    • Camylleon says:

      Yes, oh yes. The worst part…which I inferred but did not actually say…is that she was putting them back up on the table in the rolled up napkins. I was warned by someone aware of this not to use the spoons on the tables; always ask for a clean one. Ew.

      Good point, too…because I never use any swear words in the actual “text;” descriptions, action phrasing, explanations, what-have-you. Its only in a character’s speech, and always with characters who would use that language…in circumstances that warrant it! There really are no absolutes. I’m both annoyed by people who say you must never and the ones who use it every-other-word. Anything in the middle (within reason) is fair game(to me)!

  6. squeakerxmim says:

    *Point* ooooooh…..I’m telling your mom!
    We’ve talked about this before, but I am going to share anyways… When writing a character’s dialogue the way your character expresses themselves also shows their level of intellect. When I was very young and began writing, my work had SO MUCH swearing in it. There was 2 reasons for this, 1: I was a teenager and 2: I thought everyone could relate to characters who swore. What I realized is that by using so many cuss words, I was creating characters who were viewed as being ignorant and pretty much full of themselves. When I realized this I hated my characters, and wanted better out of them. I did not want to dumb them down. So I cut out most of the swearing and replaced certain words with sarcasm, wit, and intelligence.
    So while I have probably lost most of what would be considered my “mainstream” readers, I gained characters that I am actually proud of.

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