A Blog About a Word
I love reading blog posts created by other WordPress bloggers because of the profound creativity I discover in their posts. Bloggers all have interesting things to say about the world. While I did my morning scan for posts I wanted to read, I stumbled across an assortment of black and white photographs. I clicked on the entry and became fascinated by a word I’d never heard before, and I tried looking it up in the dictionary. My dictionary is old. The word was missing, so I went online, where I found the definition. According to the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, Exulansis is “the tendency to stop talking about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.” I chose Exulansis: A blog about a word to be this month’s rambling entry about nothing.
The reason Exulansis has a deep meaning for me
I am a member of a writer’s group. We meet in a private room at a local library. The participants submit samples of their writing for critique at the following meeting. All of the folks in the group are good people. This group has given me lots of helpful advice over the years. The simple truth is the members are better at critiquing than I am because the flaws in other people’s work are hard to find. I’ve discovered most criticisms are simply a matter of personal preference. I might not like what someone else is working on because I cannot relate to the writing style. I’ve discovered picking out small flaws can sometimes stifle the creative process.
How the word exulansis relates to my monthly writer’s group
Back in 2014, I did a short story project for NaNoWriMo. I asked people during the month of November to tell me a story. Plus, I added a touch of exaggeration in the beginnings and endings to make these stories more interesting. I tucked them away on a flash drive and forgot about their existence. Editing has become a big part of my writing journey over the past two years. Saving the Henhouse is almost complete. I plan to work my way through all four books in the series before I write the fifth. The short stories are what I take to the writing group.
This past month, I took a short story centered on two events that happened years ago in the apartment building next door. I combined what went down for dramatic effect. The other members in the group were skeptical that what I wrote about could be a possibility. Things such as a lit frying pan being thrown through a window 0r a guy’s wife knocking out all the windows in his car while he complacently looked on never happened in their neighborhood. Unfortunately, they happen all too regularly in my neck of the woods. I attempted to justify my plot, but it was obvious by the dazed look in everyone’s eyes they weren’t getting it.
Why Exulansis should establish itself in the English language
I have encountered many situations in my life where the word exulansis would have come in handy. The college classrooms where I dared to share a snippet of my life and watched people’s eyes glaze over in disbelief. The meetings at work where I shared a viewpoint that didn’t fit the upper-middle-class model. A writer’s group where I share stories I collected for my NaNoWriMo project or a story from my past. I wish I’d had the handy word exulansis to give voice to what I was experiencing.
Here’s the deal about exulansis
I think what throws people off is that I’m an educated, white, old lady who lets the word ain’t slip into her vocabulary from time to time. I don’t use it like Joe Biden to prove I’m down with the folks in the hood. When I use it, I do it in the way my mama taught me. It slips into the conversation even when I want to keep it out.
The people who zone out aren’t trying to be rude. They don’t have a point of reference to understand what I’m talking about when I slip and share a fragment of my life.
How exulansis influences my writing
I know I will never be able to publish traditionally because I don’t write the stuff a New York agent is looking to accept. I read a lot. The characters in the books I come across are all middle class. The poor person in these stories finds themselves rescued by a moneyed person. The first book I wrote years ago is about three women who attempt to save their struggling flower shop by taking up bounty hunting.
Two of the ladies are working class. The third character once fit neatly into a neat upper-middle-class world but experienced a fall from grace. My character discovers the relationship with the two women at the flower shop and the love of a sexy biker bail bondsman has deep meaning. I am four books into the series. The first book is one of the works I am currently editing. I’ve learned a lot since I first started this writing journey.
Why I don’t take Saving the Henhouse to writer’s group
I never take pages from Saving the Henhouse to my writer’s group. What I do is send pages to a guy I know serving time in prison, and he shares with the other inmates. The feedback I get from them is the best, and it appears I have some real street cred.
One guy thinks I’ve spent time on the west side of Chicago, where he once lived. He says shit like what I write about happens all the time in the wild west. One of the characters in my book is a strong African American woman. I wrote her because, in my world, strong African American women exist.
I had my doubts about whether a white woman could write a black woman honestly, and I figured I should change her race. The inmate’s opinion was I should leave Elba Mae the f… alone. One of the guys said I’d better not mess with her so Elba Mae will remain a strong African American woman because I don’t want to feel the wrath of my incarcerated friends. I would never get this kind of response from my writing group. They would look at me with glassed-over eyes and suggest I wasn’t politically correct enough, and I know I will never sell the story through mainstream publishing.
I know this post is a rather long rant over a word that doesn’t exist in a dictionary. Exulansis needs to stick around for a while. People like me don’t normally write blog posts, let alone novels. There are a lot of us who can’t read or come into reading late in life. This new word gives us a platform that expresses our feelings. I think we all should attempt to use it more often.
Who is Molly Shea?
Molly Shea is an accomplished fictional short story writer from Indiana who writes short stories and novels about a fictional town called Tecumseh. To read more of her short stories and adventures, click here.
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