One Word Test

Fans of Doctor Who should recognize this quote from the latest episode, The Snowmen:

Promotional poster for The Snowmen. Source: Wikipedia. Copyright: BBC.

“Truth is singular; lies are words, words, words.”

For the rest of you, it is the rational given for the “one word test,” where a character must answer every question put to her with only one word.

For example,

Question: Why is Steven Moffat the best writer in TV history?

Answer: Clever

I’m going to adapt this test to help me with a top ten list: Who are my ten most favorite authors and why do I love them?

Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait b...
Jane Austen, Watercolour and pencil portrait by her sister Cassandra, 1810 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I realize that some of my one word answers would need clarification.  In the Doctor Who episode, the test works because it is all within the context of the show. The audience and the test giver all understand the full meaning behind each single word answer.

I highly recommend you try this.  It took me less time than I expected, not even five minutes, but it clarified for me why I love these writer’s words.  Pick something and tell us why you love it. In one word.

At what age did you feel grown up?

Growing up and liking it!
Growing up and NOT liking it! (Photo credit: amy_b)

On the occasion of my seventh birthday I told my mother that I’d had enough birthdays. Seven was a very good age, I was happy with it, and I would stay there. (Just as an amusing side note – my youngest sister thought that the age of seven was rather magical as well, but she believed that seven was the age she would turn into a boy, like her two older brothers. At thirteen she’d go back to being a girl like her sisters.)

When I turned twenty, the ubiquitous wave of teenage depression threatened to engulf me. I felt very, very old and I just wanted to die and get it over with, with all the ‘woe is me’ only a twenty year old can feel. Obviously I survived, and got on with the business of growing up.  Or so I thought.

While I won’t reveal my current age, I am old enough that the randomly generated writing prompt featured in the title struck me quite hard.

Grown up? Oh no! Shouldn’t I feel grown up by now?

The teen-aged child of my cousin, on learning that I was near in age to his mother said, “But how can you be that old? You play video games and you know about the stuff I like, you’re not like a grown up at all.”

My answer to his compliment was, “Maybe because I don’t have children – I never stopped being a child.” (Yes, I took it as a compliment, because he meant it that way. I loved and admired the adults that I thought were ‘cool’ when I was a kid, who found my interests interesting, and now I am one of them. How awesome is that?)

I know other ‘adults,’ and I use that word lightly, who are like me. We the child-less, and often spouse-less, fill our free time with various pursuits. I read. I play video games. I create stories and bad Photoshop art and post my creations all over the web. A dear friend works on her two-hundred year old house, crochets funny hats and plays ukulele. My boyfriend devours web-comics and draws. We don’t have a lot of money, or retirement plans, or stock portfolios, things that I associate with being a grown up.

I find myself saying, “Someday when I have money, I’m going to do/have [fill in the blank].” But that someday never becomes today. Maybe if I put away my toys and found a ‘career’ instead of enjoying my ‘job’ I would finally make all that money that is out there in my grown-up future.

But not now. Right now I am going to level up my gnome rogue in WoW, and then I might work on the next chapter of my serial novel experiment.

Growing up can wait a while longer.



Today’s Prompt:  “Suppose you woke up one morning and had magical powers for a day.”

This is a strange prompt for me as I am a skeptic at heart. If I have not observed something with my own senses, then it does not exist. Moreover, beyond my own experiences, I only accept something as fact if it is observable in repeatable, objective testing, and documented by disinterested parties.

On the other hand, my favorite books to read are of the fantasy-fiction persuasion. As long as it is contained within the pages of a book with a dragon or a wizard on the cover, I will suspend my disbelief for as long as the author keeps the magic spells flying.

While contemplating the last paragraph, I looked up the phrase “suspension of disbelief,” wandered through the surprisingly well-written entry for it on Wikipedia, and discovered Tolkien’s idea of the “secondary belief” which is, for me, far more relevant. I copied this from the Wiki: “Tolkien says that, in order for the narrative to work, the reader must believe that what he reads is true within the secondary reality of the fictional world.”

That is what I am doing while I read. I transport my mind (as long as the story is a good one) into that fictional world, and I don’t have to suspend anything. I am there, and the authors truths become my own.

If I woke up tomorrow morning with magical powers, I would be, while they lasted, inside my own secondary reality. I would believe completely. However, the next morning, when the magic is gone, I will be, once again, content within my tangible, skeptical world.