We Are Looking For

A clue!

A clue!

Normally, I use this neatogroovycool magnifying glass to examine the minuscule creepy crawlies in the tank.  Today, I’m using it to examine context clues.

I have a Twitter account (@MrsFringe).  I don’t use it much, but I hop on semi-regularly to see what’s trending, and sporadically I’ll spend quite a bit of time for a couple of days having fun with one-liners. Some of those I follow are friends, some are Fringelings, some are people I admire, others are agents/editors who are sharp, or funny, or interesting.  Quite a few publishing professionals will tweet tips–what to do/what not to do, why they’re requesting or rejecting queries, and query trends.

Recently I logged on and happened to catch a tweet at the top of my news feed that’s stayed with me.  While it probably isn’t politic, I’m going to address it.  Since I’m 40,000 years old and not twitter savvy (read: a blabberfingers), I’ll respond here on the blog.  Someone (agent? I think, maybe) tweeted something to the effect of:  Two spaces after a period and I know you’re over 40, don’t do it.

Really?

Well I suppose it’s true, those of us who learned to type on typewriters did learn to put two spaces after a period.  If you learned in typing class and/or did a lot of typing for any reason, it’s kind of ingrained–and if you do think about it, one space often looks “wrong” to us ancients.  Despite my advanced age and inherent slowed mental faculties, I actually understand that things change.  The world changes, advances are made, things that were once acceptable are now either extraneous or completely unacceptable.  Language evolves.

A friend of Nerd Child’s is staying with us for a few days.  He hasn’t been here before, and when he first walked in he said, “This apartment is sick.”  Hard to believe, but I didn’t go running for the Lysol, nor did I tell him to get off my lawn.  I thanked him.  Context clues.

I promise you, Fringelings, I am not what anyone would consider a delicate flower.

I checked. Nope, this is not a self portrait, but I may add it to my salad tonight.

I checked. Nope, this is not a self portrait, but I may add it to my salad tonight.

I also understand publishing professionals are inundated with queries, and there are many reasons to reject manuscripts.  What I don’t understand is why someone would think it’s ok, on a public venue like Twitter, to make this type of blanket, ageist statement.  True, I (and others like me) should probably try to break this wasteful habit of two spaces after each period.  All that white space left to rot by the end of a manuscript, shameful.  Also true, there are practicalities and logistics, reasons someone might not want to take on a debut author who’s 90 years old.  You wouldn’t have to dig too deep through my archives to find I’m quite open about not loving some of the facets of aging–oh, those saggy bits!  But these are query letters for manuscripts, not applications for centerfold models.

I had dinner with my journalist friend the other night.  She is (gasp) older than I am.  Not only still writing, but people still pay to read what she has to say, because she’s good at what she does.  If I checked the list of current best selling novelists, I’m certain a significant percentage would include authors over forty.  If I checked tweets of those I follow on Twitter, I’m certain all would include tweets (from men and women) about being feminists, supporting feminism.  You cannot separate feminism from ageism.  I’d like to see that placard carried at a women’s rights march, “Equal Pay for the Perky Now!”  It doesn’t bother me to be told to break an outdated habit, but the implication that my words hold no value because I’m a woman of a certain age?  That bothers the hell out of me.

I think I’ve posted this video before, but you can just go ahead and blame senility for the repeat.  Or, yanno, trust I felt it was appropriate for this piece.

*And yes, I made sure to add two spaces after each period for this post, ’cause that’s how I roll.

8 comments

  1. I’m not over 40, but I was also taught in typing class to use two spaces after a period. Indeed, it isn’t a habit I broke until AFTER college because it wasn’t a Thing, that I’d ever seen mentioned. In fact, I don’t see it mentioned very often anyway, anywhere. I forget where I heard of it the first time, in fact.

    So. Maybe just take it as a cue that this is perhaps not somebody you’d like to work with? Or not, I dunno. I let my mouth (and sometimes fingers) get away from me all the time and have to qualify my declarative (and/or misunderstood) statements. Could be a fluke?

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    1. Maybe the acceptable age limit should be lowered to 27? 😉 I honestly don’t remember who tweeted it, if it was the person I *think* it was, it isn’t someone I’d be querying because of what they do/don’t rep. My point is more about the casual dismissal and vast assumptions made. Context clues work on both sides of the generation gap, kwim? 🙂

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  2. KWIM?????!!!!!! There you are, being all hip, mrs fringe. Do you know I had NO effing clue what that meant, not until a writing buddy of mine, in his thirties, no less, explained it to me?

    I am older than you, you know that. So I take umbrage with that ‘gasp’ wisecrack, mrs. fringe. Unless, you know, you meant in jest, or to make a point about ageism and all that, which, had I read between the lines, e.g. or i.e. considered the CONTEXT in which that little gem appeared, all shiny and new, unlike ME, who is, yanno, ANCIENT by standards that used to apply to the other guy, you know, that OLD GUY with the butt crack showing, and holes where his teeth used to be back in the day when he sat at his kitchen table, hunched over the keyboard of his beloved typewriter, spending half his time typing TWO PERIODS AFTER EVERY SENTENCE because that is how it was done, PERIOD, and the rest of his time changing the GD typewriter ribbon. . .

    Where was I?

    Oh yeah, so in conclusion, mrs fringe. . . um . . .

    🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. bwahahaha, oh the typewriter ribbon–let’s not forget getting our fingertips hammered by those keys when they got caught/stuck together if we typed too quickly. 😀 Probably what made my fall in love with my keyboard so easily. 😉 Context, it’s everything–and often found in between the wrinkles. 😀

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