...nothing here is promised, not one day... Lin-Manuel Miranda

St. Ursula part 2
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I can't remember all of the reasons why Le Guin's writing grabs me so, but last night when Stu tracked down a paperback for me entitled FANTASISTS ON FANTASY, it contained two essays by her. One is "Dreams Must Explain Themselves" and the other, as mentioned by Sandra in other comments is "From Elfland to Poughkeepsie" which saw print first as a chapbook and then appeared in the anthology THE LANGUAGE OF THE NIGHT (all mentioned here should you care to track 'em down.)

In "Elfland", an essay where Le Guin seriously takes on how to get it "right" in writing fantasy, in not just making it sound like, well, like you're in Poughkeepsie, only with well, with elves, she talks about speaking with the "genuine Elfland accent". Terry Pratchett's done some very funny riffs on this, trying to get the point across that a few "prithees" doth, er, do not make a character ancient, wise, witchy. It's not the hat (ok, the hat can help), it's not looking the part (ditto) but it's realizing it's really really Different in Elfland.

She talks about language, speech, and trappings. About using and misusing "-est" (I also goest") and the subjunctive (remember the subjunctive? Neither do I.) and how sprinkling in some words don't make it work no how. She says

"And then comes the final test, the infallible touchstone of the seventh-rate. Ichor. You know ichor. It oozes out of several tentacles, and beslimes tessellated pavements, and bespatters bejeweled courtiers, and bores the bejeesus out of everybody."

And then I found this line, one of the lines I used to have tacked up on the bulletin board, or taped to the wall. I'd forgotten the source until now:

"Nobody who says 'I told you so' has ever been, or will ever be, a hero."

This is a line that stopped me cold when I read it the first time. And probably the fifth time. And did last night.

Like the Tom Stoppard line I've used recently in my email sig,

"Happiness is equilibrium. Shift your weight."

it just _stopped_ my breathing.

And people wonder what we book geeks get out of reading.

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