ToBS R2: calling anything you write a manuscript vs. Gmail chat people who are always visible

Posted by @ 7:13 pm on January 31st, 2012

[matchup #45 in Tournament of Bookshit]

There’s nothing wrong with always being visible on Gmail chat, except that it comes off as pathetic. Talk to me, talk to me, won’t you please talk to me? Yes, I am the asshole who will talk to you, because you’re available, because I’m available too, not available like single but available like I’ve got nothing else happening in my life, or maybe I am available like single and you’re available like single and then it’s triply pathetic because we’re talking on the screen and maybe we’re flirting, maybe you say something clever about writing and I say something clever about writing and we’re both smug with our cleverness, because we both know when we meet face to face at some shitshow like AWP that we’ll both be too awkward to squeeze out a two minute conversation, much less a two minute romp in anyone’s hotel room. 

Calling anything you write a manuscript, on the other hand, is legit, but probably only if you carry around the OED in your back pocket, which knowing you, you probably do. A manuscript, you see, is something written by hand, not printed. So, technically, if you’re writing by hand, you’ve produced a manuscript. Except that’s not what you mean when you say you’re writing or have written a manuscript. What you mean is that you’re writing or have written something that hasn’t yet been published. It’s short-hand for failure. Oh, I’m shopping my manuscript around. If you say that, chances are good that you’ll never publish it, your manuscript I mean. See, here’s the problem: whereas some people may legitimately and correctly use the word “manuscript,” by the time they discuss it as a “manuscript,” it’s probably already been word-processed, which makes their original correctness obsolete. So, it’s lose-lose: either you’re an asshole for misusing a word or you’re an asshole for being pretentious. Or, I guess you’re probably an asshole squared for both misusing the word and being pretentious. Go cry into your Moleskine.

[Bonus: the only thing that would trump calling anything you write a manuscript is if you wrote a book with no words and called that a manuscript.]

Lily Hoang

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Winner: Calling anything you write a manuscript.