Jacqueline West, Writer

Bestselling author of The Books of Elsewhere and Dreamers Often Lie

Only 43 days left? It’s almost anoetic!

May 23, 2012    Tags: ,   

In general, I try not to rely on a thesaurus while I’m writing.  I’ve found that, unless you already have a very clear idea of the type of word you need, staring at a list of not-always-exact synonyms with all their sneaky connotations and roots and sounds will only lead you astray.  However, I do love the thesaurus for those moments when you know there’s a word that starts with “m” and it means something like fake or cheap, but your brain is refusing to give up the goods.

So, the other day, I fell down a thesaurus hole (and I would guess that thesauri would dig rather large holes) while I was on just such a quest, and I found a list of synonyms for “surprised” that were so strange I was sure that some of them must be fake.  Someone must have hacked into the online thesaurus and added these words, I thought to myself, like I saw my high school students do with Wikipedia. (The town where I taught was famous for being the home of several of my 11th graders.)  But it turns out that these wonderful words were real.  The first–anoetic–which actually means ‘unthinkable’ (and which isn’t recognized by WordPress’s spell check, apparently), sounded familiar.  The next, blutterbunged, had that too-perfect-to-be-true sound to it, and it’s an antiquated adjective that means exactly what it should mean.  A ferly is a Scottish adjective or noun meaning something strange and amazing and unexpected.  Best of all was gloppened–which is a form of the verb gloppen, meaning to surprise or frighten someone.  You can be a gloppener.  You can do something gloppeningly.  You can have said something gloppenedly.

For some reason, this makes me ridiculously happy.

And just for fun, here’s Brom on the porch, disemboweling a new toy.



56 days

May 10, 2012    Tags: ,   

Today’s accomplishments: Typing and cleaning up more than 4,000 words of the current version of Volume Four, and smacking a wasp that had gotten into the house before Brom could eat it.

Today’s frequently-asked question: How many books have you written?

If the questioner means, ‘How many books have you written that have been published, the answer is: 2, with #3 coming soon (or #4, if you count my chapbook of poetry.)

If the questioner means, ‘How many books have you written, published or not, the answer is: I couldn’t possibly count them.  I’m currently revising two books, and I have two more waiting in the wings with their early chapters and notes.  And, back in my practicing days, I wrote an adult novel, a series of graphic novels, and dozens–perhaps hundreds–of novels that end at Chapter 3, where the writing started to get hard, and I gave up.

Here’s a picture that I sometimes show at schools:

All of those binders and notebooks are full of my writing: hundreds of poems, dozens of short stories, and many novels — some finished, and some that never will be finished. There is another row of binders that can’t be seen on the shelf up above, and another stack of currently-in-use books and folders sits on my desk.  I’ve never counted to see when and where I reached a million words (Ray Bradbury once said, “If you want to be a writer, write a million words,” which I think is pretty good advice) but I’m sure that most of those first million are here, in these folders.  And I’m grateful that no one will ever get to read most of them.



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