Beware the gillygaupus
I recently completed a writing course with the University of East Anglia. The UEA are world leaders in teaching creative writing, with an alumni featuring literary shining lights such as Rose Tremain, Ian McEwan and Nobel Prize winner, Kazuo Ishiguro. I applied for the course in the full awareness I was a writing minnow in an ocean of greats. But, I wasn’t a gillygaupus – more on that in a bit.
It was a course that challenged me, forced me to write on subjects and undertake exercises to expand my creativity which at times were difficult and exposing. It’s always hard to throw work out there for critical appraisal, especially early drafts. Part of the course was to teach participants to give honest feedback as well as receive it.
When we’re writing, it’s not like a lot of work where it’s pretty clear at the time, or shortly afterwards what people think about what you’re doing. Writing and publishing a book can take a number of years and by the time it’s out there, and readers leave reviews, it can be a long time from when the work was done, and usually several other things have gone on since.
I wouldn’t change being a writer, I love it and for the past 8 years it’s been how I honour the lives of my dogs and others like them who have escaped the breeding industry. It’s my way of campaigning and thankfully my books continue to educate and inspire.
Aside from the campaigning side of my writing, another of my favourite aspects of this work is that I get to indulge my obsession with collecting words. I love the sounds, rhythms and appearance of certain words. Another exercise was to list those I love and dislike. It was a strange mix that fell out of my head into my notebook and I was surprised at some of the themes they revealed. My secret love of colourful swear words featured, which didn’t surprise me, you can’t beat a good expletive. Another clear theme on my word list was a dislike of stupidity. Many a person over the years has told me I don’t suffer fools. And they’re right, I don’t.
The exercise gave me a chance to expand my vocabulary in this area. There are a great number of wonderful words to describe fools and I feel a good revival of some of the best that have fallen into obscurity is in order.
Here’s one for starters:
A word that not only looks good, it’s fantastic when said aloud. There are so many contexts where this word perfectly fits.
Merriam Webster define it thus: a stupid, awkward person. And this great repository of words has this:
So why not join me in giving the verbal and literary kiss of life to this excellent, all but forgotten word.
Since recently coming across it, I’ve found numerous occasions where gillygaupus rolls off my tongue, sometimes spiced up, other times not. I now thank the gillygaupuses of the world for being there to give me an excuse to use such a delicious word.