Etiquette Bitch

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Guest blog: Confessions of a rude-aholic

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EB

Today we hear from writer Andrew Rosenberg, who blogs as Iapetus999. Andrew won the Office Etiquette Challenge. Take it away, Andrew:

Okay. I'm probably what you'd consider a "rude" person. I cut people off in traffic. I grunt my "hellos"--if I say them at all. I don't tip much and I argue in public.I pass gas. Loudly. I text while I drive. My kids are loud and impolite, and I don't work hard to control them. I drink too much, eat too much, and stay out too late. I argue with people online and off. I complain out loud. I hog the remote. I don't shave often. I could go on, but you're not worth it. See? Rude. (Just kidding...if you're reading this, you're definitely worth it!)

So here's my conundrum...
I'm writing a novel about people who have...well...manners. Etiquette if you will. Victorian-era high society characters (in a Steampunk setting). High Tea and sandwiches. (Did you know High Tea is not traditionally the same as Afternoon Tea? It's a whole different social event, more of a man's social function featuring with meat and cake. I believe High Tea has now been usurped by Happy Hour.) How am I, a clumsy oaf of olfactory repugnance and hairy distemper supposed to create a world of proper speech, elegant d├ębutantes, and princely dukes? Manners and custom of which I am unfamiliar, not exactly being a descendant of wealth and station. I did have a bar mitzvah, but that's about it.

I've heard often that writers must write what they know. I believe that's about the furthest from the truth of any advice I've ever heard.

Writers need to challenge what they know. Expand it. If we all just stick to our own little worlds, writing memoirs and first person accounts, what a boring literary world we'd be in. No space ships, no time travel, no alternate history where present day Chicago is instead the capital of a country call Charlotiana. It's when we challenge ourselves to learn, to explore, to create, to go where no writer has gone before, that we discover ourselves, our real abilities and talents, and the true extent of our potential.

So I'm off to learn early 20th century manners and etiquette, while placing it in a world that never existed. Can I teach my characters (and therefore myself) how to address each other in the proper form, be courteous, and avoid stepping on each other's toes (except when the plot demands it)? I can just picture myself at an etiquette workshop. Should I bring the kids?

Tell us in the comments -- what do you think? Should Andrew bring the kids?


Andrew Rosenberg hails from outside Seattle, Washington. He is working on a Steampunk Romance novel. A former Software Engineer, he now spends his days imagining new worlds and civilizations. Look for his novels on bookshelves...sometime in 2012 or so...if he retains an agent...and attracts a publisher...and actually finishes the book...wish him luck! He can be found on his blog at http://blog.dawnsrise.com.

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1 Comment

CharlesHo said:

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I'm not sure if I agree that writers shouldn't write what they know. In the case of the etiquette it sounds like you do know what the rules are, you simply react in a way counter to them by your own admissions. The process of writing and reflecting on something in itself challenges a writer on whether they truly know or do not know something. Imagine reading a book about love and loss written by a spoiled debutante who's never even dated someone, much less lost them. She may have challenged herself to write the book but I'm betting it'd be drek. ;)

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