Category: seriously

2012’s Most Overused Words: Epic; Awesome; Heh…

About once a week I try to find time to sit down and check out words. I’m talking about words in general, to see if I can find something I don’t use often or have never used before. Unfortunately, this post about overused words all started with me looking for homophones and turned into something completely different altogether.

I came across one web site that had a list of the most overused words of 2012, and then did another search and came up with so many lists like this there didn’t seem to be an end. Now keep in mind I didn’t come up with any of these lists and I’ve never really paid that much attention to things like this. But I do find it interesting because I know other people who do. My literary agent friend, for example, despises the word “awesome.” He’s not fond of “hopefully” either. In fact, he’s told me if he sees a query letter with either of those two words it’s automatic slush pile material. He’s been known to correct people in public as well.

As it turns out, the word “awesome” is on almost all the lists of overused words I found. “Hopefully” isn’t there, but there are several others that seem to turn up on almost all the lists. Words like “epic” and “seriously” seem to be the most overused…some of these web sites get downright snarky about it. I’ve been guilty of some of these things myself, but I try to stay away from trendy things while I’m writing unless it’s part of dialogue that is important to the character. I have had characters use the word “seriously” more than once, as part of their natural dialogue. I go through stages sometimes where I use it in my daily speech as well.

In any event, here are a few links to the most overused words in 2012, with a few examples.

Urban Dictionary gets very entertaining with the word “epic.”

the most overused word ever, next to fail. for even more asshole points, use them together to form “epic fail.”

everything is epic now. epic car. epic haircut. epic movie. epic album. epic shut the fuck up.

saying “epic win” doesn’t make you sound any better, either. and for fucks sake, don’t ever say it in person.

At the risk of further offense, here’s another spoiler alert: The phrase receiving the most nominations this year is “fiscal cliff,” banished because of its overuse by media outlets when describing across-the-board federal tax increases and spending cuts that economists say could harm the economy in the new year without congressional action.

To be honest, I didn’t even know what the hell “fiscal cliff” meant until someone told me. I don’t pay attention to politics because I find most politicians are liars and scoundrels, and every time I heard this it sounded so political I automatically dismissed it. Sometimes things work out just the right way.
“Heh” works in chat clients, but in comments it’s like unzipping your fly: OK with another person with the context and the right atmosphere, but do it in front of every without warning and nothing good is about to be revealed. It condenses more smugness than Wall Street into an almost lethally superior syllable. “Heh” is the evil opposite of “LOL.”
No argument from me with this one. Never used it and never will.
Those aren’t my words, which is why I put them in quotes. But this web site hates “epic” so much they go into a detailed explanation of how the word should actually be used.
The word “epic” is one of the most misused and overused filler words in the English language. Here are examples of its misuse on Facebook and Twitter:
We got front lawn seats and it was fucking epic.
Epic. Where? 
 If you check out the link you’ll see the correct definition of epic is explained in detail, and very well, with some entertaining photos to enforce the stand. There’s even a poll being taken over at sodahead, to see whether or not “epic,” “awesome,” or “amazing” is the most overused word. The comments are a treat.   Along with some words I’ve mentioned already, you’ll find a few more here. But it’s really the comment thread that is most interesting here as well. Some people don’t like being told certain words are overused. And they aren’t shy about expressing their opinions. One might even say it’s “epic.”  

Here’s a dictionary of despicable words.  One of these words is something that bothers me every time I see it.
firstly. Why the ly? Simplify.

Exactly! I couldn’t have said it better. I feel the same way about secondly, thirdly, and fourthly, etc…There’s really no need for the ly. First, second, third, and so on does the job. I will never forget this experience: as a freshman in college majoring in English, I wrote a paper and used “firstly,” and the professor handed it back to me with a huge red circle around it and used it as an example in front of the entire class. Of course he was right. And I never did THAT again.  

I could list more, because there doesn’t seem to be an end. And frankly, some of the other web sites were so stupid it’s not worth linking to them. One jumped into a big thing about how the word “gay” is so overused. They also commented on how it can be a insult to gay people when it’s used in a derogatory way. It often is used in a derogatory way. But they did it with such backhanded comments I’m not sure if they are supporting gays or slamming them.  

In any event, words and language change all the time. And the links above are a good examples of what was hot yesterday isn’t so much today. At least I’ll start working on not using “seriously.”



How Spouses Handle Bad Reviews, and No, Gay Men Don’t Have a Hymen

Sometime last winter I remember reading an article about an author who wound up very embarrassed because her spouse went ballistic over a bad review she’d received for one of her books. My heart sank for her. I thought she was graceful about it, and she apologized for her husband’s rants and for him calling attention to to the review. In any event, some didn’t seem to think she was being honest about it, and I found that very distressing to say the least. If she’d said nothing, I would have wondered. But she went out of her way to apologize to everyone involved and she didn’t even do anything wrong. It was her husband who went on the rampage.

I’ve been writing and getting published about as long as I’ve been with Tony…twenty years. And in all that time Tony has never mentioned anything about the reviews I’ve received. I’ll admit there were times, though not in the last five years or so, Tony has had to listen to me complain about the occasional bad review. But I didn’t do it often back then, and never do it now. And he’s never actually paid any attention to any of the reviews my books have received and it’s never been a topic of conversation between us. When I shut down and sign-off, I don’t bring my work into my personal life.

Ever since I started self-pubbing a few novels on Amazon through the KDP program, Tony has been dealing with the tech details. This was new to our relationship because he never got involved in my work. After I get the book back from final edits, and go through one last final read myself, I send it off to Tony and he takes care of actually getting it published on Amazon. He understands HTML and all that good stuff about formatting. I understand a little, but not enough to trust myself to release a book alone. So I really depend on him to do this, otherwise I’d be paying someone else to do it.

What I didn’t realize was that Tony was getting more invested in my self-pubbed books than I thought he would. He never even reads my books with publishers, or their reviews. But now that he’s doing the tech work, he’s also distributing the books to other online book sellers and he’s checking sales figures and things I normally wouldn’t check until I get my royalty statements. And this morning he checked a review I got (not on Amazon or goodreads) and went out of his mind. I came back from running five miles, exhausted in this heat, and found him waiting in the front hall with that vein sticking out in his neck that usually means trouble. Here’s the dialogue, edited for this post because I’d like to keep this a pg rated blog:

Me: What’s wrong?

Tony: You should see the review you got. It’s ridiculous. It makes no sense. I’ve never seen anything more fucked up in my life.

Me: Calm down. Everyone has a right to express an opinion. And that’s why I don’t usually read my own reviews. It’s not a big deal.(I’m thinking I just want a shower…it’s too early for this.)

Tony: But someone questioned the fact that Jim Darling in Chase of a Lifetime is a virgin in the beginning of the book, but that he uses sex toys, too, and they didn’t think it was believable. I couldn’t believe what I was reading. Many gay men who are virgins use sex toys before they actually have sex with a man. I’ve shoved XXXX up my XXXX when I was still a virgin and I’m hardly a porn star. What kind of bullshit is that?

Me: I don’t know. Maybe they don’t think gay men who are virgins should be using sex toys. Maybe they think young gay men are like young women, and maybe they don’t understand. It doesn’t sound like a bad review to me. You can’t blame someone for not knowing something. Let’s talk about it later. (I’m still thinking: shower.)

Tony: But gay men don’t have hymens! They don’t have vaginas. And most gay men are in the closet so long, and so terrified to come out to anyone, they wind up not having any sex until they are in their mid-twenties. Of course they have sex toys…or something that resembles a phallus…for self-gratification. I’ve never met a young gay man who didn’t experiment with sex toys, and none of them turned into porn stars. It’s insane that someone would question this. It makes no sense at all. And it makes you look like you’re wrong.

Me: No. It does make sense. There are a lot of people reading gay fiction that don’t understand how gay men really are. And when you show them, even in fiction, they don’t always believe you. Sometimes they even become vicious about it. We both know that most gay men experiment with sex toys long before they actually have sex with a man. I did, you did, and I’m sure most of the gay men we know did. And I think that most people who read my books understand this, too. It’s just one isolated review, so stop worrying. Things like this that are so socially incorrect cancel themselves out. And the sex toy scene wasn’t a large part of the book anyway. That’s why I kept that sex toy scene short and I didn’t get into detail. I didn’t see the need to drag it out.

Tony: I don’t know how you can stay so calm about something like that. It’s just wrong all the way around. It’s inaccurate.

Me: You learn how to deal with things like this in time. I’m thrilled that someone took the time to buy my little, humble self-published book, to read it, and to review it. So just calm down and stop worrying. Like I said, everyone has an opinion. And right or wrong, I’ve learned to respect those opinions. (I’m dying to get out of my running shoes; my feet are burning.)

Tony: I think I’ll stay away from reading your reviews from now on.

Me: I think that’s a good idea. I know a lot of authors who go through this with their spouses and their spouses all feel the same way you do. It’s part of the territory and you learn to take the good with the bad. (I’m running wild into cliche land now.)

After that, Tony walked away shaking his head. I know he didn’t totally get it, and I know he’ll bring the subject up again, but I also know that he’d never go batshit crazy in public either. I was just surprised at his strong reaction because he’d never reacted one way or the other to any reviews I’ve had…never. I think because he was so involved with “Chase of a Lifetime,” he became more emotionally invested than before. And for those seeking entertainment, Tony won’t go into a huge rant on the Internet about this review or any other.

But the point of this post is that our spouses have to learn how to deal with the reviews we get, too. Good or bad, it comes with the territory and there’s nothing they can do about it. And the last thing you want is for them to start ranting in public about a bad review. So sit them down and explain this to them in detail, so they don’t make the mistake of doing what that other author’s husband did I spoke about earlier in this post. I’m still feeling sorry for her as I write this post.