Once upon a time, I was uploading any number of photos from my writing school days to Flickr. Now, I have a tendency toward folksonomy, and a general philosophy that it’s best to capture data at the point of entry, whether or not you are sure you’ll use it later. Thus, I had the urge to not only tag the photos with the names of the people in them, but with their affiliation: Poetry, Fiction, Nonfiction.
I didn’t exactly want to type open-quote fiction student close-quote a thousand times: what I wanted was a one word solution, preferably as elegant as “poet”. What I got was two words (because of course I wanted to capture the Lying or Truth-Attempting valence of the prose students as well): proser and fictionist.
These are ungainly words. They lack the suavity of “poet”, but I have a real affection for them. “Proser” is so, well, prosy. It puts one syllable in front of the other: pro-zurr. Plod plod plod, building complete sentences out of verbs and subjects. Writing until you hit the margin and then doggedly keeping going. PROSERS, baby. Grunts of the literary world. Boots in the mud. PROSERS.
As for “fictionist”, it has more pretensions, but that’s only fitting. It has narrow little i’s, peering at the world, seeing it all as fodder. It’s more ornate, more full of artifice, and that’s what fictionists are. Peddlers of artifice.
I do so love words. I love other tools too — pencils, shading sticks, even erasers, and the odd and occasionally dangerous tools with which oboe reeds are made. I love their form that follows function, the capabilities they hold. Words are the same, but even better: you don’t have to carry them or store them or buy them, just remember them, and if you lose one all you need is a few clues to find it again. As I’ve purported before, language is our birthright. The toolbox is vast and joyously expandable. And every once in a while, it’s so nice just to lay out the tools and ponder their forms, admire in each its individual gleaming.