Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Off to college, to major in peach farming...

All businesses have jargon. All social groups have slang. Jargon is a shorthand for those in the biz, and slang is a way to identify with a group (and in both cases, it’s easy to spot outsiders based on language).

After four years together, it’s no real surprise that the Playground is developing its own jargon and slang. We’re not trying to exclude anyone; we’re just lazy. Today, I’m going to share some Playground shorthand with you – so you won’t feel excluded. :-)

“That book went off to college.”

Books are kinda like children (in my case, headstrong and willful children). While my book might be like my own child, the other Playfriend’s books are like my nieces and nephews. I’m kept up-to-date on their shenanigans, but the day-to-day raising of them aren’t my problem. You keep up with their growth, their progress, and then one day they go off to college and come back entirely different people. This happens quite frequently with books – especially once your editor gets hold of them and you’re going through revisions. Trust me, Kira’s Whispers in the Dark is not the same book I helped her plot in the back of the Playmobile on the way back from Birmingham. The “child” I knew is still there, but it’s all grown up now and I hardly recognize it anymore.

Just like in real life, going off to college is a good thing. College (i.e. an editor) does good things for your book – even if you feel slightly left out of the loop, like you missed an important part of its growth process. It’s odd to see a book mature into something different than what I expected, but it also means that the book I pick up off the shelf of my local bookstore will have a surprise in store for me.

“And now he’s a peach farmer.” (also sometimes a question, asked in a tone of frustrated disbelief)

Brainstorming books in a group is an interesting process. Characters, plot points, funny lines all get tossed around randomly – some ideas are rejected outright, others are written down for possible later use, and some prove interesting enough to build your book on. And all of this can happen pretty quickly. You have to pay attention.

One night we were brainstorming at my house. The book up for discussion took place at a nice resort owned by the hero and the heroine was the manager. I left the room for FIVE MINUTES – seriously, FIVE FREAKIN’ MINUTES – and when I came back, the hero was now a peach farmer in south Georgia (and the heroine might have been a preacher’s daughter by that point. I’m still not sure about the twins.). Talk about a train of thought that left me behind at the station.

Peach farming happens a lot on the Playground. I thought it was dangerous to leave the room only because I’d get volunteered for something while I was gone. Pfft. "And now he's a peach farmer" is shorthand for “How the hell did we get here?” (and the answer is, “It doesn’t matter. Here we are.”) So if you hear us talking about peach farming, it means something major has changed while you weren’t looking, and just roll with it.

And, just FYI, my book is turning into a professional student. I’m wondering if it’s too late to borrow that peach farmer idea…

So do you have a group of friends that has developed its own slang? Care to share what it is or how it came about?


~off to pay tuition...~


Playground Monitor said...

I was there the night of the infamous resort-to-peach-farm morph. It happened right in front of me and I'm still not quite sure how it happened. Taught me a lesson though -- NEVER leave the room.

Instigator said...

You know, I'm still not quite sure how it happened either. The only connection I can make is that both the resort and the peach farm were in Georgia. And, honestly, it works for the story. How we got there...shrugs. Those are the moments of genius you don't question. :-D


P.S. She is not a preacher's daughter and yes, there are still twins.

Smarty Pants said...

We were looking for a family run business in Georgia that the hero wouldn't want to take over and would leave town to avoid. We started with farmers and ended with peaches because it was georgia. Could've as easily been pecans.

It is kinda wild to read a book that's gone off to college. You still see the bits you're familiar with, but its also so different. Always better, but different.

Anonymous said...

Wow, that is just so amazing and way cool. And no, I can't say that we have any shorthand going on here at the school but that is something to think about.

Kathy said...

That's funny! I love your stories. ;)