For the several years that I’ve been writing this column, I’ve tried to keep my whimsy in check and stay focused on the goal of helping you advance your craft and live your writer’s life. But every now and then, as you know, my whimsy bursts through like a hernia in the body of my work and all sorts of nonsense spews forth. This would be one of those times, for I’ve just been sorting through a trove of more than 700 words that I’ve invented, and damned if I don’t feel constrained to share some of them with you.
For you see, as much as I try always to smarticulate (that is, to speak both wisely and well) I have to admit that I get carried away with words. I do. I’m a fan of the snatchphrase – language exported to a new context – and of nonomatopoeia, which sounds like nothing at all. Adlibi. Panicdote. Overaverage. Yes, and bewilderness. When I see or conceive words like these, I have to have them. I kind of have to have them all.
And that’s how you build a collection of 700 new words. You start by being a moxiemoron, too brave for your own good. You subtract sticktoitivelessness, the God-given ability to quit, and you engage in quite a lot of microstasking (the work that gets done between visits to Facebook). You stay out of procrastinationary states, where moving forward slowly slowly turns into standing still. In short, you chose not to be omniabsent, which is to say nowhere, man.
Mostly you have a passion for it. I do. I have a ridiculous passion for new words – but honestly, how can we hope to survive in these modern times without heteroschedule, when Mommy and Daddy make time to make love, or farrightitis AKA Fox News Disease?[pullquote]How can we hope to survive in these modern times without heteroschedule, when Mommy and Daddy make time to make love, or farrightitis AKA Fox News Disease?[/pullquote]
The world needs these words, and it’s my job to provide ‘em.
Then again, there’s that whimsy again, the only possible explanation for dalmation (the state of being like a spotted dog) and mallucinate (where you only think you’re shopping) and Zentiloquism (throwing your voice without making a sound). And smokequarium. And misconscrewed. And schmuckluks. And and and and and.
And the list goes on and on. Well, it would, wouldn’t it? After all, I’m the guy who published A Million Random Words; I obviously have way too much time on my hands.
Some of my neologisms are not fit for mixed company – but I’ll share them with you anyhow. After all, who knows when you’ll want to describe a generally bad situation as a fuckaroundarama, or the object of your carnal desire as pluckworthy? And certainly you’ll find a timely and opportune use for harasshole – the guy with petty power who hassles you just because he can. Circumscissors. Panticlimax. Cumulolingus. I give you all of these freely, to use as you see fit.
Don’t thank me, I define myself through service.
I have to tell you that I like playing to the smart crowd you are. It delights me to be sharing these obscurities with the WriterUnboxed community, for if ever there was a savvy crew that would recognize ad homonym as something that sounds like a personal attack, it’s you guys. You’ll also get what I’m driving at when I define exapples as something you don’t compare to rhetoranges, and embag as the act of keeping the cat contained. You’ll also get hobotheosis as elevation of the bum, and idiodactic as scholarly, well-reasoned and wrong. That’s how smarticulate you are. I am proud to know you, my friends.
And proud to share these nuggets of my fervid brain: Ferno, not that hot; fibber-optics, liar wire; miraculess, ordinary; and orbitrary, round because I say so.
Why do I do it? Why? Why? Well, why not? To me, it’s part of a writer’s responsibility to invent new words. That’s how the language advances and grows. Look at Shakespeare, all the words he made up. He gave us dwindle, hob-nob and zany, plus about 1,700 more. Wouldn’t you like that legacy? I sure would. And I’ll keep going for it, hard, if it takes every zinfidel, splatula and sunderpants I’ve got.
Again, why not? What harm can it do to exercise my brain in this way? What harm can it do yours? Writing is frustrating; it can be. But making up words is just pure, creative fun. So next time you find yourself in a state of penlessness (away with words) or suffering from a redundunce (too much of a dumb thing), spend a few minutes making up new words. You will be rewarded with the experience of a no-risk creative exercise. You might also be rewarded with words you can actually use. Many of my favorites – sadlarious and disastrophe come to mind – have become part of my working vocabulary; their use in my novels helps define my voice and draw readers to a strength of my game.
If you’re looking for tools, here’s two you can use: 1) fuse words together into new compounds; 2) try adding, subtracting or changing key letters. Many more strategies can be found in my 15-year-old book Creativity Rules! and it astounds me to think that my passionate interest in inventing new words goes back that far. No wonder I have so many.
But your collection starts now! Invent new words! As many as you can, as fast as you can, and post them here now! We are the Shakespeares of our day, and no one can take our incoheritance away!