Finishing “Once a Goddess” reminds me of the great appeal of short story writing: instant gratification. Instant from the point of view of novel-writing, anyway; I cranked out the bulk of that story in a single evening, and it’s a rare story that requires more than three days of me sitting down and adding words to it. So I’m going to see if I can’t finish two more before the end of the year.
One is the sacrilicious story, provisionally titled “The Gospel of Nachash.” I figure I’ll save that for closer to Christmas. ^_~ I need to figure out a name for one of the characters, and then I need to figure out what happens to him; everything around that is more or less in place.
With that one on the second burner, the immediate project is “Chrysalis.” And here, gentle readers, I need your help.
See, to make the structure work, I’m pretty sure I need an additional character at the midpoint of the story. I know who that character is; what I don’t know is what to call him/her/it/them. Said entity is a character perfectly balanced between male and female — which might mean perfectly androgynous or perfectly hermaphroditic, I’m not sure which. Anyway, this being English, where we’ve jettisoned grammatical gender pretty much everywhere except our pronouns, I’m not sure which one to use.
My preferred gender-neutral default in speech is singular “they,” which has been in use for centuries and has the advantage of being a solution people actually use. But in a story situation like this, it can leave the reader thinking I mean more than one person, and generally undermines the sense of unity I want the character to have. “It” would work if I decide on androgyny, but I’m not sure I like the way that renders an individual into an object. (There’s a reason I had the witches call a doppelganger “it” instead of “she.”) Beyond that, I’m looking at a bunch of neologisms like “sie,” all of which I fear would kick the reader out of the fantasy-Mesoamerican setting and into the twenty-first century. My final option — thanks to Wikipedia — is to go the other direction and dig in the dusty corners of English past, which gives me three possibilities: “heo,” which was replaced by “she” because it started to sound too much like “he;” and “ou” and “a,” both of which were used in Middle English. (Is the latter what we see when Ophelia sings “And will ‘a not come again?”)
Or I could use the Nahuatl third-person pronoun yehwatl. Or the K’iche Mayan are. (Sorry, had to repost the poll to add those.)
Anyway. I have options; I just don’t know which one I like. So we have a poll. Check all that you like, and feel free to present your case in the comments.
(Edited again to add: okay, it looks like “yehuatl” might be shortenable to “ye” or “yehua.” If I go with that option, I will very much need to consult with someone who knows Classical Nahuatl, since the way it handles pronouns is very alien to English, and I don’t trust myself to make up the appropriate substitutions without help. But if the length of that word is keeping you from voting for it, there may be shorter alternatives.)