Shapeshifting 13 #44 Kickoff

March 9, 2016

Herzlich willkommen!

Ghoul Friends, like the many headed hydra, I welcome you with many tongues!

(Insert gigglesnort here!)

I joke, but language is, in my opinion, incredibly important. The concept of language runs the gamut from how one speaks to languages learned, and I’m as guilty as so many of using words that are unbecoming and not taking the time to learn another language.  As I consider my classroom environment when I start teaching my own classes, I’ve thought about the way I speak. I have a lisp sometimes, and, though most Alabamians have questioned if I’m “from ’round here,” I seem to have a thick Southern accent. I find myself cursing like a sailor at home and in public, and I know enough Spanish to say, “Hola , lo siento soy una mesa.” (Which roughly translates to, “Hello, I’m sorry I’m a table.” I just realized that. Le sigh. The things we laugh about as teenagers and end up remembering as something substantial.) When I write, I find it hard to fit varying languages into dialogue, and I tend to want to use certain words or phrases that I actually know, but then they seem out of place. I’ve begun wondering if it would benefit me to start learning Spanish for the sake of working more closely with students who are English Language Learners, but then my mind wanders and thinks, “Maybe French and Latin would be more fun! But, either way, you’re lazy, Tony, and probably won’t make it through 20 minutes.” To begin his post, I had to research how to translate “Welcome” to different languages. You’d think that I would know at least a couple of these off the top of my head–though, honestly, I was surprised that I knew bienvenido, actually. The thing that drives me crazy the most is that I, despite this seemingly overwhelming inability to actually change how I speak when I’m just being myself, I have this Maya Angelou quote that runs through my mind periodically:

“Words are things, I’m convinced. You must be careful of the words you use or the words you allow to be used in your house…Words are things. You must be careful, careful about calling people out of their names, using racial pejoratives and sexual pejoratives and all that ignorance. Don’t do that. Some day we’ll be able to measure the power of words. I think they are things. They get on the walls. They get in your wallpaper. They get in your rugs, in your upholstery, and your clothes, and, finally, into you.”

Now, I have an innate ability to change how I speak when I sense the need to–i.e. when performing on stage, when speaking at a podium, when around kids as a guest in a classroom. I worry, though, that I will feel too comfortable in my own classroom or around my peers and let loose a side of me that I don’t want my kids and peers to see–mainly because I’m afraid of the repercussions. Though, Maya Angelou’s words run through my mind, and I wonder if I’ll be able to consciously change my behavior to where it’s second nature, and change how I speak to where it’s becoming of a gentleman and a lady. I think words are powerful! Though I haven’t read much of her writing, nor can I recite any of her poetry, and I haven’t listened to her speak often, I find myself sitting quietly, listening intently, as I watch Maya Angelou speak in videos. And there’s one in particular that gives me a sense of hope that I can achieve the desires I just listed–it speaks to the idea of being “a rainbow in someone else’s cloud“. In the video at that link, Ms. Angelou discusses how, when she stands in front of crowds or does anything, she asks everyone who has ever been kind to her, who has ever helped her, to join her so that she never feels as though she doesn’t have help. Language is a two-step process–first, you must seek help in order to use it wisely and properly, and, second, you must be a conveyor of proper language-usage, you must share your knowledge and experiences with those who follow after you. I apologize that this introduction was so long, but what are your thoughts on language and how we use it in private and in public? Tell us in the comments section below!

Now, before we jump down to our prompt, let’s look at a few reminders:

    • Our Winter Writing Contest is in full swing! The deadline is March 13th, 2016, at Midnight ET. We have two challenges–Short Stories, 1000-3500 words & Flash Fiction, 100-1000 words! Time is running out, so get your submissions in today. There is a $10 entry fee for each story, but first place wins $100 plus publication in the Winter/Spring 2016 issue of The Ghoul’s Review.
    • On the last Friday of each month, we will celebrate a fellow writer here at Grammar Ghoul Press, in a new segment we’re calling “Celebrating the Ghouls”! If you’re interested in being a part of this new project, please email Check out past celebrations here.
    • Every quarter, we will have a new series-challenge in the Shapeshifting 13. As you know, we have “Ghoul Festival” in October and “Ghouls in the Cabin” in January. In April we’ll have “Ghouls on Rainbows”, and in July we’ll have “Ghoulish Inquiry”! We’ll have more information about these new challenge-series soon.
    • Our Lair is currently taking a hiatus, as is our Mutant 750 challenge. Should either one open up, we’ll announce it here!
    • The Shapeshifting 13 goes live every Wednesday at Noon ET. The grid will stay open until Sunday at 8:00 p.m., after which voting will open. Voting ends on Monday at 8:00 p.m., so you get about 24 hours to read and vote for your favorites pieces. Winners will be announced in a separate post on Tuesday at Noon ET. Further details can be found here.

Last week for THE SHAPESHIFTING 13 challenge, you were tasked with creating a story or poem in 39 words. This week, in exactly 52 words, your challenge is to write a story or poem inspired by and using any form of the following word(s):



a long strip of material (such as canvas or rubber, etc., that moves continuously and carries objects (such as packages or luggage) from one place to another

: someone who makes something known to someone else

Definitions courtesy of Merriam-Webster.

The Rules

  •    Challenge submissions must be fiction or poetry.
  •    Submissions must be exactly the number of words specified; no more, no less.
  •    Submissions must use the prompt as directed.
  •    Submissions should be written in response to the challenge, so they shouldn’t pre-date the kickoff post.
  •    One submission per person.
  •    Please put lengthy explanations at the end of your post, not at the beginning.
  •    Don’t forget to add the code for the challenge badge to your post.
  •    When voting, you are on the honor to not vote for your own piece.

Now, while your handing over that cow, don’t forget to grab the Shapeshifting 13 #44 badge from the right side of the page, and insert it into your post. Remember, you have until Sunday @ 8pm Eastern Time to submit something. Have fun!


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  • Joy Pixley March 9, 2016 at 1:42 pm

    I’m pretty sure I’ve used my own version of, “Hello, I’m sorry I’m a table,” many times myself, although in French rather than Spanish. Hopefully that explains why all those people were laughing at me. 😉

    I think probably any writer would agree that how you use language is important. Being able to speak the right way the first time is an entirely different skill set than being able to write the right words down — and be able to edit them until they really are right. As far as talking in a classroom, it’s like any other public speaking (you mean, terrifying? yeah, sort of) in that if you pay attention to your behavior and practice speaking in this particular way, it will come to seem natural after a while, and you’ll be able to switch gears from one type of speaking to another easily. Good luck wrangling your words into line!

  • LRose March 9, 2016 at 11:16 pm

    resoplido risita!

    • Tony Lovell March 10, 2016 at 3:25 pm

      HAHA! I had to Google Translate this, and now I may have to use it constantly!

    • TN Kerr March 10, 2016 at 10:44 pm

      Tengo un pato en la maleta