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.
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 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.