A quote from Australian author Lucy Sussex is very relevant here:
"I write because I get a buzz out of chasing words down a page - otherwise, why bother? And if I communicate that buzz to someone else, all the better."
I'm a big fan Janny of your phrasing.. although I do admit to occasionally re-reading a sentence or phrase three or four times and think "what the heck is she trying to say here...."?
If anyone is interested in examples of how literacy has fared in the US, track down a letter written by any common soldier from the Civil War period (or watch one of the superb shows on the subject that are aired from time to time on Discovery or PBS including Ken Burns's documentary on the Civil War). These men, most often of low economic background (the rich at that time would often pay people to serve for them if they got drafted) and perhaps limited opportunities, wrote letters to their wives and girlfriends that sparked the language to a fine beauty. I don't know many educated people today who could write as well evidenced by my getting asked by co-workers (all of whom hold degrees) what a word I've used means.... or worse, not asking but I can see the lack of understanding in their faces.
I suspect the people who visit here have above average vocabularies.
On the subject of learning or change: I had the opportunity to point out to some one at work that if one does not change how does one know they're still alive.
I was told recently that "they" (who "they" are is still a mystery) say that if you wish to write for general consumption, one should not write above a fourth grade vocaulary. I would be truly distressed if this actually happened because I graduated 4th grade a long time ago.
One of the reasons that I love Janny's work is that there is always that nuance and shades of lauguage. It's beautiful, a rich tapestry of imagery and characters. I have only once had to look up a word and I can't say that I would quibble with any of her word choices. It's great to learn new words. I don't want her to write "down" to me but I love reading "up" to her!
Janny: You are very welcome, anytime.
Frank and Auna: Thanks very much for your comments.
In regards to the "good guys and bad guys" comment I was trying to get across the idea that not everything is what you think in these books and I didn't know how to put it any other way that would make sense. Janny likes to keep her readers on their toes and thinking (which I greatly enjoy and appreciate by the way and one of the many things that I love about her work). And in regards to the last comment about the big words I think that it is fair to warn people that when they read these books they are actually going to have to think. In other words if you like to read at a third or fourth grade level then maybe these are not the books for you but if you like more of a challenge then these are definitely something that you want to look into. I lent my copy to a friend right after I got into Janny's books and she read the first couple chapters and gave it back to me and when I asked her why she said that the words were too big. I could never understand that way of thinking but then I do logic puzzles and Sudoku puzzles in my spare time in addition to reading pretty much anything that I can get my hands on. Thanks.
Janny, that was an amazing small essay you wrote there!!! I wish I could send it to our newspaper as an article for a guest feature writer spot! Alas that more people won't see it and perhaps begin to think on the beauty and complexity of language.
Whn pple txt msg att wrds r shrt n smpl ths dys
(When people text message all the time, words are short and simple these days)
Shakespear's complexity in language is one I find semi-difficult to understand in the written form, and better understood first in a play, then the writing. I understand that he is still considered to be an excellent writer of his time, even if my high school teacher had to help us appreciate his works.
In almost everyday we (hope nobody is offended by this word, can't think of a better alternative) 'bastardise' our own language in our efforts to go quicker, be more efficient.
Taking the time to communicate properly and fully, either by spoken word, a letter/email, a text message or a book is becoming rarer. An appreciation of wording and the actual message given is becoming a thing of the past.
At work, I use initials, abbreviations, shortened words etc. It becomes a language of simplicity and efficiency, almost it could be called a separate industry dialect, and with the people I deal with, I have to be shift dialects constantly, even between departments. I used to joke that I was a translator for 'technicalise' to/from 'business', but it isn't a joke anymore. There truly are different languages and language barriers.
So when I can come home and live on my time, I enjoy the ability to stretch my mind by thinking through your books and the scenarios, trying to pick out the meaningful clues, and taking in new concepts and words. Sometimes I even see ways to use the scenarios to help improve my situation in my real life.
If I want to read a 'fluff' book, I have plenty of them also, after all, if I want to enjoy the finest books, I have to compare them with others. Somedays I'm too tired to concentrate so I'll pick up a Mercedes Lackey which won't require much thought. When I was younger it was Andre Norton. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy both of these authors, when I'm in different moods.
The only book of yours I regard as a 'light' book is Sorcerer's Legacy, and I still enjoy it and read it semi-regularly. I have introduced my young nieces and my sisters to your work through lending them this book, to graduate through to Empire, then Mistwraith series.
Janny, go for the words that are best for the scenario, challenge me to grow myself, dare me to expand my mind and my own experiences!
Some people will think it's all too hard and not attempt it, some may try and fail, and some will succeed, and some will win glory!
Anyone who at least makes the attempt, even if they fail, will walk away richer from the experience in ways they may not be able to appreciate for years.
Well I'd hoped to spark a discussion!
I read fluff, too, when I don't want to think! Mostly on airplanes. I am a firm believer that all things have their place.
And simplicity has its merits, also. Sometimes a story is so well told you don't notice the words. Sometimes the story is so well told you just are stunned by the beauty of the words.
Creativity can move in Any direction - I really only get peeved (and I wasn't peeved, here, just on a productively explorative rant) when people think there is ONLY one way to approach a thing.
There are as many approaches as people on this planet...you'd think, given the opportunity to appreciate variety, we'd handle differences as exciting.
With Light and Shadows I am really trying to push limits.
Not every story I write will do this, or approach this degree of challenge.
I certainly don't mind, Collette, if you share that bit with anyone you wish so long as they realize it's a personal opinion of the moment, and that the beauty and possibility of words are a fascination of mine...I am not out to change anyone's mind, or dictate what they should feel for themselves, just to throw light on an angle of thought.
My own $.02 worth on your use of $2.00 words Janny:
Please use them!!
If the education system would get out of its rut of trying to turn everyone into mathematics supergeniuses, and realize that language is just as much a rich, vital, important part of our lives, culture, and history, I think we'd be a lot better off.
I spend more of my time trying to explain what I am saying when I use "big words" - and I am not speaking to stupid people!
From the time when I was very small, words and language fascinated me. Thanks to the above mentioned, rut, however, I received mediocre grades throughout most of my schooling, because the "logical/linear" discipline of mathematics did not hold even 1/100 of the fascination for me that language and words did.
Sometimes, when I read your text Janny, I am forced to pick up a dictionary - no problem, except I need to get a hardbound copy of the OED [Oxford English Dictionary] you recommended, because you have included words I have not seen used, - either in a long time, or ever, for that matter - or because I want to understand the nuance in which you used the particular word.
I also like collecting gemstones, and I look on new words as much as those gemstones. Something unique and beautiful that I can hold onto like a treasure.
I shudder to think what WoLaS would be like were you to "dumb down" the language, or try to make Arithon "more likeable" or "more sympathetic" by making him an inarticulate moron. "I, like, don't get my bro, Ly, and his, you know, problem with me. Oh yeah, do I have a hot old lady in 'Laira or what?"
Thankfully, you are having a love affair with words, you don't talk down to your readers, and best of all, you're standing your ground like the immovable object of legend against the whiners demanding you use simpler words or language.
I can think of someone else who likes using "bigger" words and does not talk down to her audience. Her name is J.K. Rowling, and I have yet to hear of anyone whining about her particular choice of words or language.
>> I shudder to think what WoLaS would be like were you to "dumb down" the language, or try to make Arithon "more likeable" or "more sympathetic" by making him an inarticulate moron. "I, like, don't get my bro, Ly, and his, you know, problem with me. Oh yeah, do I have a hot old lady in 'Laira or what?"
Blue - Good Lord, that's hilarious. When I was at school it was P.E. that everyone seemed wild about promoting. Everyone thought I was weird for sitting around reading all the time, and all the popular girls were the ones that were good at netball and hockey. I hated both. Netball usually gave me nosebleeds, and I spent hockey games fleeing from girls about 3 times my weight runing towards me and wielding sticks apparently designed to hack my skinny ankles into bruised, broken pulps.
My second contribution to the word controversy: Perhaps I just spent too much of my early life reading books full of polysyllabic words, but I've yet to skip a beat reading any of Janny's books, and I love seeing such splendid and underused words brought back from the decaying pages of unloved dictionaries and into the living fabric of a decent novel. Bring it on, I say!
Please explain what 'dumbing down" means and please don't use words that we dummies will have difficulty understanding.
Appreciate most of your comments Blue. They are constructive. Some of us have engineering backgrounds because we excelled in mathimatics/sciences because we absolutely love solving problems. Back those many years ago when I was in college and I needed an A, I took a math or science course.
The three teen hostages, and the psychotic with the ouzie who lurked in the back of their dilapidated Impala, broke down in the middle of the suspension bridge at rush hour.
Dumbed down: The three helpless girls and the mean man with a gun had car trouble and stopped on the crowded bridge.