January 31st, 2012 / 7:13 pm

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

[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

* * *

Winner: Calling anything you write a manuscript.



  1. Lindsay Lennox

      “…you’re writing or have written something that hasn’t yet been published. It’s short-hand for failure.”

      this is confusing. you’re saying all of the pieces you write are published *without* ever reaching a final written form that is then submitted to someone, somewhere? i guess writing-as-performance-art?

  2. Lindsay Lennox

      truly, your method is wondrous – please share it?

  3. Nick Mamatas

      Hey lady, my gchat is on because I’m already talking to someone else, not because I’m hoping to talk to  you.

  4. lorian long

      my boss just walked up behind me and upon seeing the picture at the top went ‘ewwww’ and i said ‘exactly’

  5. deadgod

      typing with your hands vs. visibility

      winner:  spilling your guts

  6. postitbreakup

      i think calling anything you write a “chapbook” is even worse

  7. Luke Johnson

      Everything about this was unpleasant.

  8. Jasmine Neosh

      Well, on the bright side that takes a lot of the pressure off for the AWP after-parties. 

  9. shaun gannon

      who cares

  10. deadgod

      ha ha ha — ‘I’ve got a chapbook I’ve been working on; I’m calling it Against the Day.’ –Pynchon  ‘Oh, I’ve had a chapbook out for a while; it’s about a frog jumping into a pond, and all that changes in the whole world is the water splashes.’ –Basho

  11. mimi

      spilling visibility vs. spilling hands  

      winner: spilling

  12. deadgod

      spilling is going to be hard to beat

      (cleaning? no

      new stuff? no

      ballet lessons? win/but-still-a-tick-in-loss-column)

      is the voiceware that exists used to translate speech directly to written poetry

      is that a current experiment that people perform

      because – not saying you didn’t get it – typing is “manu scripting”

  13. mimi

      manu scripting vs. technoware facilitated vox scripta  

      funny you should mention   

      i ‘teach’ (that is, ‘facilitate’) ‘art’ (‘creative expression/whatever’) to disabled adults  

      i encounter a wide range, and various combinations of limited cognition, speech ability*, manual/fine motor skills, hearing and/or vision (not to mention (and not pertinent to this discussion) gross motor skills/mobility, self care, & ‘social skills’) 

      winner: i’m gonna say ‘it’s all good’

      *although i’ll wager that my keen ear can intelligibly translate what voiceware would transcribe as ‘afa af afaf aaa faffuh afaf du adada sada sacca suss vava fuh’

  14. Jess Dutschmann

      what does it mean i instead you’re aggressively away on gchat
      like little red dot then LEAVE ME ALONE, BUSY