Yin, Yang and Yahoo

It’s amazing to me to see the flowers pushing up through the gravel of our desert rock garden. All through the hot days of last summer, the warm fall and sere winter, there was no sign that there could be tulips.

Suddenly, there they are!

Lots of writing pushes going on right now for some reason. Maybe everyone is realizing we’re already through the first quarter of 2010 and wondering what they have to show for it. Now the sun is warming, the flowers blooming and all that work you figured you’d get done in the dark days of winter? Not so much?


So the RWA PRO group is having a 50K challenge this month. And there’s this Thor’s Challenge of 25K in 25 days. Another gal announced she’s 200 days into writing at least 100 words per day. Everyone wants to beef up those wordcounts.

Speaking of which, I discovered this week that my scene break set of symbols “* * *” actually count as three whole words in MS Word. When the clock is ticking and the words aren’t flowing and you’re struggling to hit your 1K for the day, it’s really tempting to stick in a few extra scene breaks. Everyone loves a scene break, right? Maybe I should develop a fancier scene break indicator, like

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Isn’t that pretty? And it would be SEVEN words!

Of course, that’s not really the point. Which is the thing to bear in mind. Wordcount goals and challenges can be great to motivate a writer to keep her butt in the chair and put the words on the screen, but what truly matters is what words they are. Even if you do fast draft and edit later, eventually quality trumps quantity. The NaNoWriMo folks are all about pushing you to finish a novel, which can be a valuable exercise. (Of course, they count 50K as a complete novel, which it isn’t — you need at least 80K, really — but I’ve complained about that before, so I’ll shut up about it now.) So, one thing the NaNoWriMo folks say is that, if you’re stuck, you can have your characters sing something like American Pie. I haven’t heard how many words that ends up adding to the story, but it’s a considerably long song.

What, that’s cheating?

Depends on what you’re trying to do. If you want to prove to yourself that you can put down 50,000 words to form a storyish type thing, then sure. Is it a novel when you’re done? Well, I can tell you right now that you’re going to have to cut out the song lyrics, since the royalties to directly quote songs are off the charts, so to speak.

Yeah, in the editing phase.

My point being, why put something in to pad the wordcount if you *know* you’re going to take it out in the final product? That’s just indulging yourself as a writer and not really working for it.

This has been a slow writing week for me, wordcount-wise, largely because I’ve been going back and reworking. KAK has been giving me great feedback on the Sterling New Novel.

(Did I mention that one of the agents who read the full of Obsidian and was *this* close on it loves the concept of the New Novel? She called it a “sterling idea.” So I think the new code phrase for it is Sterling. Even though that has nothing to do with the story. It makes me happy to look at it.)

So I’m working it up, hitting plot snags because this world is complex and – oops, I violated my on physical laws already in Chapter 8 – so I had to fix that thread. I’m shifting a few scenes around and adding in important information. I’ve made a lot of progress this week, just in a way that can’t be measured by rising wordcount.

It’s easy to value yang over yin. You know the concept I mean: the Taoist symbol of balance. Yang is active, male, thrusting out and growing; Yin is resting, female, drawing in and nurturing.

Accumulating wordcount is yang, then. Editing, the trimming back, in yin.

Those dark days of winter when you didn’t do much but eat and sleep? That’s a restorative time. The resting and rebuilding allows for the explosion of Spring yang.

The tulip bulbs hid under the rock for nine months or more, then burst through in a blaze of red.

Both phases are equally valuable.


It’s amazing the results you can get, when you give something what it needs.

The trick is, figuring out what that is.

This little Madagascar Palm is our Exhibit A for flourishing in our new environment. The picture on the left is one I took this morning and the one on the right was from last summer. Yes, I did repot it into a much bigger planter (which was free with Bunny Bucks from Jackalope – woo hoo! love this town!), but the palm demanded repotting within a few weeks of our moving here, it was growing so large, so fast.

I should also mention that the picture on the right is pretty much how that palm looked for something like 15 years. I kid you not. In the early years of our relationship, when we had practically no money, David and I would take road trips for spring break. We’d head to the desert Southwest to get as warm as possible as quickly as possible. Often we’d end up somewhere in Nevada where the casinos provided very cheap lodging. (Harrah’s in Laughlin for $19 per night – ah, sweet nostalgia.)

We would also buy cactus.

It sounds funny now. I don’t know why we liked to buy cactus. Except that they were unusual plants that we didn’t see in Laramie. And they were inexpensive and fun. We bought quite a few over the years and most died. The Madagascar Palm hung on, but now I suspect it was kind of in stasis. The palm version of cryogenic freezing, in hopes of being awakened in a better future.

Several people made interesting comments on my last post, about changing the physicality of writing when you get stuck.

Keena said she does as Marin suggested, and actually does move to paper and writing out longhand. Marin mentioned a writer who always writes longhand because it slows him down, causing him to be more careful. This is a diametrically opposite approach to the “fast draft” or “shitty first draft” method that many writers like to use today.

I suppose the point is that sometimes you have to mix it up. Try new things and see how they work.

You never know what might make you really flourish.


I like this, when the sun is rising opposite the Sandias and first hits the peaks, highlighting them with gold on snow.

Lately I’ve been doing a new thing in the mornings. Not on purpose. In the last few years, since we started getting up early to exercise, and since we haven’t been exhausted and sleep-deprived, I sometimes awake before the alarm.

This is unusual for me. I mentioned before that I’m not a morning person and really had to train myself to wake up early to write. When I was younger, I’d sleep through the alarm clock. I’d sleep through phone calls. I had to be dragged from sleep and it took forever for my brain to engage.

So, for me to awake before the alarm – sometimes as much as 45 minutes before – is a new experience for me. I lie there in bed savoring the warmth, the comfort, David’s sleeping form next to me, and dreamthink.

This is how I’m thinking of it. My mind wanders through the story I’m working on and I kind of dream about it, kind of fantasize. It’s probably Stage 1 or 2 sleep. I’m betting if we hooked me up to an EEG then, it would show spindle waves. Which is appropos of nothing.

What is neat for me, is this has become plotting time, in a lovely, effortless way.

When I wrote Obsidian, I started kind of from this state. It was a rainy Saturday morning in April. David had gotten up early to attend a seminar I blissfully did not have go to. I slept a long time after he left, as this was back in the exhausted & sleep-deprived days. When I finally awoke, maybe around 10:30, I laid there and thought about the long, vivid dream I had. Then I went upstairs and wrote it down. I wrote for hours while the rain fell on the skylights.

Some think creativity comes from the subconscious, welling up from deep within. And the subconscious can only really be heard when the conscious mind, with all her lists and timetables, is quieted.


In Flight Again!

I think I’ve mentioned before that, when I’m not sure what I’m going to write about here, I look on my camera to see what might be on there.

It’s frequently a complete surprise what images I find there, which really shouldn’t be the case, since most of the time it’s only been a day or two since I snapped the pictures.

Short attention span much?

Except that’s not really true. While my attention can be diverted, usually my problem is getting too wrapped up in stuff so that I lose track of time and forget stuff. Like, say, the tea water boiling on the stove. I wish I could say that’s only happened once or twice, but I bet I’ve done it, oh, two dozen times at least. Now I actually set a reminder on my computer to go check it. Pitiful, I know.

In this way, the photos on the camera are like little notes to myself, to remind me of what I was thinking of or found interesting at that moment. Otherwise, I’m not one of those writers who writes notes to herself.

I saw a bit of advice the other day saying that writers should make notes with every idea or you’ll forget it and lose it forever. I just don’t think it’s true.

Admittedly, last night, David and I were talking about something and I thought, oh, I should blog about that in the morning and now I don’t remember what it was. But I’m not bothered about it because I truly believe that the thought will surface eventually, at the right time. If not, well, in the immortal words of Steve Martin, “It must not have been very important then!”

If you’re radioactive, you’ll remember eventually.

One thing that I do when I’m editing is I’ll think, oh, I really meant to add in this phrase or this idea or feeling. I’ll type it in and, two lines later? I’ll find that exact phrase. One day I’ll learn to read ahead and check to see if the past me already did what the present me thinks is so brilliant. One day I’ll also learn to trust myself.

Rarely do I find that I left something out of a story, mostly I’m refocusing the reader’s eye.

It’s funny to me, to look at these photos I took the other day. On Saturday we went to the mall to find the glassblower’s booth I spotted at Christmastime. Remember how I said malls didn’t have them anymore? Well ours does!

And they totally fixed my glass fairy, whose broken wings I bemoaned in that same post. The guy only charged me a dollar to do it. (I gave him $5 — not all miracles are costly.)

So, I snapped commemorative photos of the repaired fairy, for the triumphant return to flight blog post, since several people said the Broken Wings post made them sad. Witness my contract with the reader here: I’m providing you with a happy ending to the sad, sad tale of the broken fairy.

You can see, however, that I had issues with focus.

The camera kept “looking” out the window instead of at our main character, fairy reincarnated.

Some lovely nature shots there — not to mention the fabulous rain chain! — but the heroine is an unfortunate blur.

I finally figured out that I was too close to her and backed off. But then the secondary characters took over. Not that they each don’t have their own story. Just not this story.

At any rate, I’ve extended this analogy until it’s creaking, and you can see her at the top, in all her clarity and flightfulness.

That’s my take-away today: trust yourself, things can always be fixed, and sometimes all it needs is a little refocusing.

When I’m Down and Feeling Blue

Sometimes I feel like I’m speaking to an empty room.

Maybe this is a writer thing. You write the words, they go out there and sometimes someone answers, but most of the time, not. Most of the time there’s this vast silence.

Or, maybe people who become writers are people who feel like they’re talking to an empty room already and writing the words down is a way to at least make them visible, if not heard.

It’s a funny thing, because the reader doesn’t experience this. The reader feels like they’ve participated in this whole conversation with the writer. You’ve whispered in their ear, they listened and thought about it, ordered their responses and perhaps revisited what you wrote in their minds over the course of the day. This is the part the writer never gets to hear.

And, of course, we all seem to be this chemically unstable combination of insecurity and raging egomania. Perhaps it’s one of those things like running for President of the US, where only egomaniacs stand a chance of surviving the process. But, for writers, our marching melody seems necessarily threaded through with this minor harmony of doubt. I don’t know — maybe the President feels that, too, but doesn’t dare show fear to the lurking wolves.

This morning, two nice things happened. A wonderful friend, who happens to be a Nebula Award-winning author and who offered to read my book to see if she could help expedite it past the slush piles, sent me a note on FaceBook, saying: “Wow! I was hooked on Obsidian by page one. You write really well.”

And an email came from one of my oldest friends, saying: “I managed to get caught up on all of your blog entries that I didn’t get to while I was convalescing. They were full of lovely writing, touching sentiments, and pretty images.”

Those two things? They’re enough to make that empty room suddenly full of people.

What’s Your Game Now – Can Anybody Play?

I really should scan in some of my photographs, so I don’t have to borrow pictures of my friends’ kids when I’m talking about my own childhood.

Though I love this pic of the red-headed urchin child born to one of my sorority sisters. I see a lot of my friend in this little girl’s face. Which is a lovely thing, I think.

So, I’m changing up my process again a little bit. As you may or may not recall, when I wrote Obsidian, that was a major writing transition for me. I had formed my writing habits around essays. That was a very natural way of working for me. I worked four ten-hour days at my job, then took Fridays off to write. I could generally write a full essay in that one day. Start to finish, I could hold the full idea in my head and get it all on the page.

When I went to write a longer work, which at first were a couple of narrative nonfiction books, I found this didn’t work. I obviously couldn’t write the entire thing in one day, I couldn’t quite hold the whole thing in my head and, if I wrote only one day a week, I would lose too much of it in between.

Eventually I gave in to the “write every day” crowd. At first it was quite painful. The other demands of my life didn’t lend themselves to writing at any other time than early morning. And I am *so* not a morning person. At that time of my life, though, I took or taught classes every night from when I finished work until sometimes 1 am.

Mornings it had to be.

Now it’s my pattern and it works for me. I get up early, exercise and write before starting work. Sometimes I have early meetings and that interferes, but in general, I get my words in every day. I’ve learned how to write a long work in increments, though I did it as I write essays: knowing my starting and ending point and letting the writing process wend me through it.

For a while now I’ve been wedded to that idea, that the true art of writing is letting the story emerge that way.

Several things have come together in the last week or so to change my mind. Allison is dealing with contract stuff and negotiating deadlines for her (very exciting!) three-book deal. She writes like I do, yet she’s expected to provide detailed synopses of Books 2 & 3, neither of which are written yet. The thought makes *me* nervous. I’ve realized that, not only is Allison going to have to change her process, now that writing is her job (albeit a second one), if I get a contract like this, which I want and I’m working towards, I will have to do the same thing.

I might as well start now, without the pressure of deadlines.

I mentioned at the beginning of the week that I’m taking this time to figure out what I’m working on next. I tried writing on my various projects, just to see which one wanted to flow. A new urban fantasy novel stepped forward and she’s going to be my dance partner for the next little while. I’ve been feeling like I should plot it out, but dreading that process. And maybe feeling like that’s an insincere way to approach a story

The other thing that happened was I ran across a quote at some point. I think someone tweeted it and I regret that I didn’t take note of who it was. But when I read it, I didn’t realize it would stick with me the way it did.

I thought it was Jung, so I Googled him and some of the words I recalled and found it on this site, which has a lot of really great quotes on this topic. This is the quote that caught the edge of my attention, attached itself and like a burr finally buried its way in enough to prick me:

Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.
Heraclitus, Greek philosopher, 535-475 BCE

On the way, I also saw this one:

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct.
Carl Jung, Swiss psychoanalyst, 1875-1961

That quote by Heraclitus reminded me of my childhood games with Linda Ceriello. We would create these elaborate games with stuffed animals and model horses, such as boarding school. We spent hours and hours in prep, giving each animal a name and sometimes a family history. We created course curricula and interpersonal conflicts. In fact, we rarely ended up playing the actual game for very long because we spent so much time on the set-up.

You’re probably way ahead of me here, but it hit me (sun breaking through the clouds, angels singing) that this was PLOTTING. Something about remembering the seriousness of our play and how gloriously fun it was, showed me that I have been plotting stories all my life. I just didn’t know I was doing it.

And see? Jung wasn’t the correct source, but he has something to serendipitously add: that new things are created through play, not intellect.

This means something to me because lately I’ve been feeling like I’m not as intelligent as I once was — no, I don’t know why I feel this way — and I’m wondering if I even can create a complex world like I have in mind for this novel. Knowing that I can do what I did as a child liberated me and now I’ve been writing up this world, plotting it out.

I still seem to need the process of writing, but I’m just describing things, characters, religions, history. I throw in snippets of dialogue here and there, bits of pertinent interpersonal relationships.

The best part: it’s really fun. Thanks for those days, Linda!

Being Mindful

I notice the way my mind works has changed over time.

Is that odd? And no, it’s not a dementia thing, as some snarky individuals have suggested. I notice it mostly with writing and I suspect it’s a product of the last two years of concentrated fiction writing. Not just fiction but the fantastic kind. (As in fantasy, though I hope it’s also excellent.)

What I notice is I have homonym issues more lately. I type “no” instead of “know.” I recently did “knight” instead of “night.” Bizarre replacements where I know perfectly well what the word is, but something in my head replaces it as I type. This always happens when I’m creating, typing in a blur of speed to get the scene on the page.

There’s an amazing book that my mother discovered and gave to me. (There, that makes up for saying I only planted St. Joseph to shut you up!) It’s called My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor and is about a brain scientist’s experience with a devastating left hemisphere stroke. The book is easily the best I’ve ever read for a firsthand account of the difference between left and right brain thinking. I’m a brain scientist myself, in my winding educational/career path, and Taylor made me understand all the rules I knew about division of labor in the brain.

What the book affirmed for me, is that creativity comes out of the dreamy right brain. That side is timeless, non-linear, unconcerned with rules and boundaries. The left brain is the one that tracks how long it takes to cook a hamburger and reminds me of my lists of things to do, and what order they should be in.

I was discussing the revision process with two writing friends lately. The essayist proposed that revision is simply like refining a grocery list, such as moving items in similar parts of the store into the same group. The fiction writer agreed somewhat, but emailed me a picture of her dining room table arrayed with notecards for her current novel: her book in spatial form.

I stymied all further discussion by trying to describe how it felt to me these days. Lately my novel feels like a glass globe I hold in my head. I tweak the colors inside, moving the shapes and swirls around.

Very right brain, I suspect.

Thus, the homonym thing. My right brain doesn’t care for the letters, only the sounds and shapes. My essayist’s left brain writing gets engaged more now in revision. Even then I find myself sinking into the globe’s spell. I’m supposed to be reading out loud, to hear the voices. Sometimes pages go by and I realize I’m altering in silence, absorbed in the colors.


The Rest of the Story

So, I’ve found myself explaining to various wonderfully supportive friends and family types how the whole “refining my craft vs. selling out” crisis is going, over IM and email.

I figure I’ll write out the update here, then I can tell people just to go read my blog, which saves me typing the same stuff over and over, and has the bonus of irritating people, because I’ve found most people really hate being told to read my blog. It’s the techno version of “come over and see my slide show of my vacation and I’ll tell you about it then.” Beware of expressing idle interest in someone else’s obsession — you’ll regret it sooner or later.

For those listeners at home who may just be tuning in, I’ve been working this last week on trying to discern where the two different voices are in my novel, that this agent identified as conflicting with each other, to the detriment of the book. One is a more commercial voice and one more literary. Guess which has to go?

David, the love of my life, offered to have me read it aloud to him. This is a big favor, because he doesn’t really read fiction. I did once read the entire Ender/Speaker for the Dead series to him over a summer of road trips. Now that we have more comfortable incomes we usually fly places and have very few road trips.

So, I printed out the first couple of chapters, read them to him and he stopped me anytime he lost the thread of the story or thought it got vague. Which ended up being a lot. It’s a good thing he loves me because at one point when he stopped me, I snapped “What? I don’t get ANY description?!?”

But I marked all those sections and our relationship survived and was fully repaired over cocktail hour. It’s funny, because the agent told me that if I could make the fixes, she’d love to see it again, but that she also understood that this was the “hardest and most emotionally frustrating part of the process.” And she wished me luck. Turns out I needed it.

The next morning, I sat down to revise. And decided pretty quickly that David was an idiot who had no idea what he was talking about. All the stuff he picked out was really good stuff.

Just then, an email arrived from a contest I failed to final in, with comments from the judges. Now, I’ve pretty much stopped reading judge’s comments. I enter the contests for the opportunity to put my novel in front of editors and agents if I final. If I don’t final, most of the time it’s because at least one judge REALLY HATED my book. Like giving me a 50% score hated. Usually the other judge will give me a nearly perfect score. So between the two, I don’t get super-useful feedback. Just the love/hate thing.

But I decided to look at these comments, to see if any of theirs coincided with what David identified. These scores turned out to be unusual because all three judges ranked me highly, with just enough points taken off to keep me from finalling. And they ALL picked on the exact thing the agent pointed out. And their comments? Yes: exactly the sections David thought slowed the story.

Another writer friend told me she read her novel to her tattoo-artist boyfriend, who was not a reader, but spends his days talking to people. She says “I’d want to kick him when he’d stop me and say ‘what? wait? what?’ But he was invariably right.'”

There’s been discussion lately on the FFP loop, about finding someone to critique your work who understands your particular sub-genre. Several people have chimed in that their best critiquers don’t write anything remotely the same, but they know a good story.

I lost a page and a half in the revision of Chapter 1. I read it again to David and he didn’t stop me once. He was surprised when I stopped at the end of the chapter, he was so caught up in the story.

So, yes, it’s painful. But I see that I can do it now. One of the judges clearly also writes in first person and she warned me to watch out for “I wondered,” “I thought,” “I saw,” “I heard” and “I noticed,” as constructions that yank the reader out of deep POV (point of view). She means that it brings in the narrative voice and the reader loses the sense of being in the character’s head. She’s dead right. I’ve been searching for those phrases and they cluster in the “slow” sections. Alas.

I suppose it’s part of life, that you never stop discovering new flaws. As you get things polished and handled, new problems are revealed.

Guess I won’t run out of stuff to do!


I’ve been editing my novel. Not for the first time, naturally. I finished it almost exactly a year ago and have edited the work several times since.

Right now, though, I’m whittling down the first 30 pages. In genre fiction — maybe all kinds, I don’t know — much rests on the first 30 pages. Contests generally ask for it (or the first 20 or 25, if they’re chintzy), because agents generally ask for that. Then hopefully they ask to read the whole thing.

But everything really hinges off of the first 30 pages. They’ll argue it’s a Blink thing, that a good agent or editor knows within a few sentences if the work is what they can market. Or rather, they know right away if it’s NOT. What this means though, is there’s no room for leisurely introductions or backstory. An editor at the RWA convention complained of writers who tell her the story “really gets going in the third chapter.” That, she said, is where the story should start.

Okay, I can see this. That a genre novel’s glory is its ability to sweep you away. In our increasingly impatient society, there’s little patience for the slow build. Selling books is selling excitement. Capture the reader on the first page and you’ve sold the book.

What I’m noticing as a reader, however, is how many books start off great and completely fall apart. Sometimes the first three chapters promise something that vanishes or was never really there. And the second half of the book is frequently terrible. To the point that I wonder if the editor ever read the second half.

And then I wonder, do they care? Is the market such that all the emphasis is on selling that book. Mabye it’s become immaterial whether the reader will then buy or borrow that author again.

Not that I’m not playing the game. My book is one of those where the exciting action kicks in around Chapter 3 or 4. I felt like the slow build-up was important, but I’m capitulating. I’ve condensed 60 pages into 30. No point, I figure, in holding onto the perfect opening to an unpublished book.

A lot of what goes in that kind of slash-and-burn edit is description. A (terrible) contest judge recently slammed me for too much description, which she compared to Anne Rice. The judge invited me to recall how much people hated how she’d describe the wallpaper. I’m thinking, uh, Anne Rice? Multi-million dollar best-seller, Anne Rice? One of my favorite authors before she went off the deep end, Anne Rice? Oh no, don’t write like she does!

But, I concede to the gateway and have cut cut cut. My delete key is dripping black font. I really hope, though, that the rest of the story satisfies. Perhaps a lean, mean beginning can lead to a meaty repast with a lovely, fatty, overblown dessert at the end. In a room with gold, flocked wallpaper…

And. But. Or.

Conjunction Junction, what’s your function? Hooking up words and phrases and clauses. Yes — all of my cohorts out there are singing along now. Those of us who were children together in the 70s learned our initial grammar, multiplication tables and basics of government from Schoolhouse Rock. (Due to the miracle of the internet, all the videos are now available online, for your nostalgic pleasure.) Setting the rules to catchy music was a terrific method to introduce the concepts to children.

And in school, our teachers simplified the rules for us as we learned to parse correct sentences. Never start a sentence with a conjunction they said. (Oh look, and here I already broke it.) Starting sentences with conjunctions tends to lead to sentence fragments, just as starting the day with a bottle of wine can pretty much trash the rest of the day. This doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with drinking a bottle of wine in the morning. Wine is a lovely thing, drinking it can be wonderful and depending on what you were planning to do with the rest of the day, drinking a bottle of wine in the morning can be just fine. Say, for lolling on the beach. Not so much for working.

I remember when I found out that is wasn’t really a “rule” that you can’t start a sentence with a conjunction. It’s like not being able to ride the roller coaster when you’re little. Once you get mature enough, you can wrangle the grammar all you like. I felt such a sense of freedom. No longer was I confined by 3rd composition principles. The world of wordsmithing opened up, vast and full of possibility.

It reminds me of my favorite religious studies professor in college, Professor Hadas, who described himself as a non-practicing Orthodox Jew. (A fine joke, for those who don’t know.) Professor Hadas said that most people have a kindergartner’s understanding of their religion. Meaning that, most of us retain the stories we’re told as children — Jesus on the cross, Mary & Joseph in the stable, Mohammed and the mountain, Esther, the destruction of the temple, etc. — and don’t ever break out of that child’s mindset to really explore the adult spiritual concepts.

A contest judge recently marked me down– WAY down — for starting sentences with conjunctions. And for using sentence fragments. In fact, she recommended I go take a course in grammar. It was beyond her world to see that the rules can be broken. That for art, for example, to create a certain cadence, the rules should be broken. Many so-called rules of writing are like this. Don’t use ellipses. Don’t use adverbs. In fact, in the otherwise wonderful Georgia Review article on my essay collection, the reviewer’s only complaint was that I used adverbs. Every one has their pet peeves, but the point is, these “rules” are really guidelines; markers to guide your way to better writing. Ellipses are okay. Adverbs are okay. Deliberate sentence fragments are okay, too. Just don’t overuse them. Just like you shouldn’t overuse the word egregious. A little goes a long way.

Now, where’s the wine?