Writing Like My Countrymen

It’s funny how patriotic you become when you live somewhere else.

DON’T WORRY I AM LOVING EVERY SECOND OF LONDON AND WOULD NOT WANT TO BE ANYWHERE ELSE FOR THIS SEMESTER!!!!

However, you can’t help but notice differences, which is what people sometimes refer to as culture shock. I’m not really that shocked per se, the culture isn’t too different. But there are certain things. Like the toilets. First of all the Brits are very blunt about this and actually call it a toilet. We Americans like euphemisms like “bathroom” or “restroom” or “ladies’ room” or other terms of the like. The Brits on the other hand, if they need a toilet, they’re going to ask you for a toilet.

They also require you to have a television license to watch any type of tv, whether on the telly or online. WHAT?! Not that I watch a ton of tv, but I am quite accustomed to being able to watch it whenever I want if I so choose. Interesting.

They also apparently do not believe in lanyards for keys and identification cards. It took me forever to find one and that came in a package my mother mailed me from the States. In the place of the lanyard they use these little plastic things I can only describe as fake wallets. Each side has a clear plastic pocket for holding your cards or keys. The major drawback with this system is the number of times your keys and cards slip out of these little pockets resulting in you scouring the streets of London frantically looking for them only to find that they were in your bag the whole time. This predicament could have been avoided had the school just given you a lanyard to begin with. Then you would pull it out and see your keys and ID all securely in one spot.

But I digress.

One of the other things I noticed about the differences between our two cultures is literature.  Now this is not necessarily true so much now, but I am noticing it in one of my literature courses entitled The Short Story. It is turning out to be a wonderful course, but what I am noticing is that all the early short stories are written by American authors. Twain, Chopin, Steinbeck, to name a few. My professor told us that the short story is a very old form of literature dating all the way back before Christ to the Greeks and Aesop’s Fables and of course all tales that were passed down by word of mouth. But the modern short story as a genre was invented by the Americans.

Ah ha!

The Europeans invented the novel and the Americans invented the short story. How intriguing. It makes sense I suppose; Europeans tend to be more patient. I’m afraid I “went all New York” at the Underground station the other day and proved the stereotype. You see, it was absolutely unbearable down there for no one was moving! They really do like queuing, content to stand there and wait when there was plenty of room to keep going and exit. Naturally I weaved in and out, desperate to escape, I was hungry!

But I digress.

After learning this about my literary countrymen, I have decided to make more of an effort to write short stories. My European background is satisfied with my urge to write novels, but my American citizenship and Native American heritage is sadly disappointed. To please them, I am making a conscious effort to write more short stories.

So to start it off, please head over to Serial Central and read Part Four of “Ensnared” HERE or click the button I made on the sidebar with the branches. It will take you to the whole thing if you need to catch up (but it is backwards beginning with Part Four, so just scroll all the way down to the bottom).

Yes, “Ensnared” is really a novella and will probably develop into a novel with further revision, but it’s only the third of my projects that I began without intending to turn it into a novel. The other short stories I’ve written (which are here on this site under the “Short Stories” tab) were from classes or for a school literary magazine. So they don’t really count.

It’s on. After “Ensnared,” I’m writing more short stories.

I’m kind of excited.

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About Miss Rosemary

is a recent college graduate from NY hoping to complete her novel of ten years. Stop by her blog, Miss Rosemary's Novel Ideas at http://missrosemary.net or contact her at MissRosemarysNovelIdeas@gmail.com with comments, questions and suggestions. She'd love to hear from you! View all posts by Miss Rosemary

22 responses to “Writing Like My Countrymen

  • highheelsandslippers

    Oh this made me giggle! Yes we do like to queue – I personally LOVE a good queue and even after living in the States for five years I cannot stand it if I think someone is queue jumping!!! Oh dear – you’ll get used to us! 🙂 Please tell me it’s raining?;-)

  • Maimoona Rahman

    Or wash room. I often wonder why the Blighties are so uneuphemistic, and why they think using extra alphabets is uber-cool. Why do they never enunciate the Rs after vowels? Why do they speak like they have rings wedged between their jaws? Why do I find it all enchanting?

    You’re right. They do write novels beautifully.

  • Ollin

    That’s so fascinating about the modern short story being created in the U.S.. And I totally said WHAT!? with you when you talked about the license for televisions. Love it.

  • Agatha82

    I’ll give you the other side…When I go to America, I laugh my head off when hearing “I’m going to the bathroom.” er? Is there a bath in there? No, it’s the bloody toilet (or loo)so I always tease my friends abot that. About queueing, it works really well because it’s organised and you can see where you are. Whenever I’ve seen “queueing” in America (and Paris) I want to scream because anyone could cut in front of the mess that does not resemble a queue in any way, shape or form lol. Good god, I’m getting worked up about queues…that kind of says it all. Now all I need is to complain about the weather and I’ve behaved like stereotypical English person 😎
    P.S If you try cutting in front of me, you die lol.

    About TV licence, yes, that’s rubbish and it is why I don’t watch TV as I refuse to pay for it. Mind you, the licence is the reason there are such amazing channels such as BBC1 and BBC2 that show no adverts but still, when you’re poor, being charged £11-12 a month to watch the bloody telly is not something I’m willing to put up with…grrrr

    Never knew that about the short stories vs novels. Very interesting. I love writing short stories myself.

  • amanda

    I think it’s great to change things up by writing short stories now and then. Have fun with that! Also, love hearing about your adventures in London (I popped over to your other blog, as well). I’ve been there twice while studying in Wales for a semester — one of my favorite places!

  • G

    I fully support this decision to write short stories more often. But I suppose you would’ve seen that coming from me. I love short stories 🙂 I’m studying Italian Lit right now and Italo Calvino, one of the most famed Italian writers, is known for his short stories. They’re so good!

  • firepages

    I really enjoyed reading all the differences between London-ites and Americans. I can deal with the toilet being called a toilet, but I think I would have a heart attack over the television license. I’m a total tube boob. I am so happy that you are writing more short stories. I’m a huge fan of the genre. I will definitely check out more of your work!

  • aloysa

    I am Eastern European (so we call ourselves nowadays) and I am not patient at all. I love to write short stories and don’t have patience (or discipline for a novel). Bathromms … Well, every continent or country has its own cultural preference for names and styles. I went to China last year and found out that Chinese bathrooms are squat style. I never thought that such a simple and ordinary thing as toilet can actually make my day. :-)So, calling a bathroom a toilet is not that bad after all.

  • Sharmon Gazaway

    Lovin’ the insights! Also, so love shorts. You get a lovely idea, you write, and, voila! a FINISHED story–unlike unwieldy, hateful, uncooperative novels (growls under breath). Can you tell the editing hasn’t been going so well?
    Keep up the great posts.

  • slightlyignorant

    Yay! Short stories are cool.

    I have a suggestion about the “toilet” thing. I usually ask for the loo there, since it’s another word for bathroom and I also prefer it to asking where the toilets are. Being an American in England can be slightly embarrassing when you ask for “bathroom? Washroom? Um, you know, the ladies? Sorry, yes, the toilets. Thanks.” This kind of conversations has happened to me at too many restaurants.

  • Barb

    Maybe it’s just older people, but I’ve heard at least 3 mentioning the “loo” instead of the toilet… old-fashioned, maybe? Two men and one woman, so…
    See you soon in London! 😉

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