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.