Saturday, September 30, 2017

Down the Rabbit Hole

Every so often authors come across a bit of real life that starts their imagining the "what if's?"

This happened to me last summer. I found a rabbit hole. Or maybe a fox hole. Or, considering where I was, maybe a summer version of a bear's den.
In a meadow on top of Max Patch 
I was hiking in western North Carolina with my husband and daughter. The trail we followed was a minute section of the Appalachian Trail, in Madison County, the scene of two of my books, Called to the Mountains and Back in the Time. Disappointed that the view from the summit was obscured by fog, I stopped looking at the broad picture and turned my attention to what I could see...the meadow.
Nothing peeped out at me when I took this closer photograph, not that I wasn't relieved or anything. Adventure has its limits, after all. I didn't physically enter into this hole, tempting as it might have been.


Mentally and fantastically, I couldn't let this pass, so I went down this rabbit hole in my mind. Played around a bit. Imagined the "what if." Did Lewis Carroll find a rabbit hole once upon a century ago, and let his main character roam through his mind? I wonder what Alice would have experienced if she had fallen into this particular hole on the top of this particular mountain in western North Carolina.

One of the sites I have saved and categorized under Writer Tools on my favorites bar is the Urban Dictionary, a necessary item for double checking nuances of words I plan to use in my writing. After all, the English language is fluid, certainly not frozen in stone, so word definitions and connotations change. I couldn't resist checking on the modern meaning of going "down the rabbit hole."

Alack and alas, it has been taken over by the psychedelic drug vernacular, as in tripping on that which shall not be mentioned here. There are more usages, tending to the "uninhibited behavior" slant, or to the obsessed with something to the exclusion of normalcy slant. 

So if I don't even want to go down that rabbit hole, what exactly am I saying I don't want to do? 

The speaker knows the point he wants to get across and then uses word choices from what is available in his language. He might even coin a word or two, or apply a past experience or two that fits the situation perfectly. The ultimate purpose of communication, however, is for the listener to interpret what the speaker says and apply it to the conversation at hand. Some expressions might fall flat before they even arrive on the Urban Dictionary site. This one didn't.

Some people might think language, with all its twists and tangles of a rabbit hole, is too fluid, but not me. I love it. 

Catch of the day,


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