Moasting Fun

by Clare Langley-Hawthorne

After all the doom of bookstore closings and Australian and Brazilian floods, I was relieved to read an article that introduced a new word into my lexicon of ‘authorisms’. It was in a NYT article about two French intellectuals, Bernard-Henri Levy and Michel Houellebecq, and the word is a delightful mingling of moaning and boasting – ‘moasting’. One example would be: “I cannot believe the state of security at LAX. I mean I had to stand on line for an hour and nearly missed my flight back from taping my interview with Oprah. You’d really think in First Class the lines wouldn’t be so bad!”

As you can imagine, the host of social networking sites – from Facebook status updates to Twitters – allow for a plethora of ‘moasts’ to occur – and let’s face it almost all of us have been guilt of a wee bit of moasting now and again. But reading the article made me think of all the fun moasts I could inflict on my next author panel as well as some of the best ‘moasts’ I have heard in my time. Is there anything more despair inducing to an unpublished writer than to hear famous authors lamenting about their publicity schedules or deadlines? You know the kind of thing – “I didn’t even have time for lunch between taping the Today show, being interviewed for The New Yorker and my photoshoot with Vanity Fair.”

So I thought we could have a bit of fun (after all the horrors of the last week or so, I could do with some) with all this…Tell me what are some of the best/worst moasts you have heard or read? What sort of moast would you like to inflict on a particularly annoying friend or rival?

6 thoughts on “Moasting Fun

  1. Hmm…most of my friends are pretty unmoastful. The closest I heard recently was, “They flew me up to Canada, and then I had just two days to rewrite that lousy script. Hey, I’m good, but I’m not a miracle worker. But at least I got to fly first class and get picked up in a limo.”

  2. Interesting post, Clare. I agree that we’ve all been perceived as moasters from time to time, but I wonder if it’s not all relative. To the person who’s been unemployed for a number of months, any complaint about work could be seen as a moast.

    I worry about that sometimes in the context of Facebook posts. Because I travel so much for my Big Boy job–a lot of times in the front of the airplane–there’s nothing romantic about a flight delay, no matter where it is. That said, to the person who longs to travel yet can’t for whatever reason, my miserable four-hour delay in SFO would be a terrific adventure.

    On the writing side of my life, my worst moasts are probably my complaints about my movie deals that are stuck in development hell. Yes, the fact of the movie deals is pretty heady stuff; but the frustration is very real. Even as I write this, there’s a little voice in my head saying, “Yeah, Gilstrap’s moasting.”

    One of my closest friends is a writer of significant success–millions of sales–and with each new book, he embarks on a sweeping worldwide book tour that I know for a fact leaves him exhausted. You can see it. He does it because he loves his fans and he loves interacting with the international publishing world, but at the end of three weeks of late nights and early morning flights, I know that his moaning comes from an honest place.

    John Gilstrap

  3. I think the ‘moast’ needs to be distinguished from genuine and well founded complaints – otherwise all successful authors would have to shut up:) Having read a bit about it I think the term has really arisen as a result of social networking sites like facebook and Twitter where celebrities in particular engage in over the top moasting. Kathryn – I like this one:) and John, I agree that genuine issues especially book tour exhaustion isn’t the same thing. I think in the age of celebrity the moasting phenomenon is a way of jostling for importance. At least it’s funny to observe!

  4. Interesting term. Probably any unpubbed author who hears a pubbed author talk about deadlines and print runs and appearances thinks we are moasting. You can almost hear them thinking, “I wish I had those problems.” And yet these are genuine concerns of published authors.

  5. I just returned from the steaming jungles of northern Guatemala. There’s no raw material for moasting in that sort of trip, unless mud, mosquitoes, and fungal rashes cause you to flush with envy.

    The most luxurious means of travel into that area is the so-called “chicken bus,” aptly named because passengers often board these buses with all of their worldly possessions and that usually includes a chicken or two. (John Ramsey Miller would feel right at home)

    For me, the wonder of the indigenous people in this region is their stoic indifference to social class and worldly riches. The remote tribes (that is, those untouched by our modern global society) seem to care only about your character – and character is judged solely by actions, not words. The only people who receive deferential treatment are elders, and the respect and honor shown to them has nothing to do with their achievements in life.

    I wonder if there’s a word for boasting in the Mayan dialects. Probably so, but I doubt it’s used very often because the Maya seem blissfully ignorant of notions like social status. They are too concerned about feeding their children to worry about such things.

    Moasting (a new term for me) would be wasted on these people. Mayans wouldn’t catch the “moaster’s” self-important references.

  6. Nancy – I do think genuine concerns don’t upset unpublished writers I think it’s when it’s couched in snide, over the top moasting terms designed to make the published author feel superior that is discomfiting. It can be a fine line but I suspect most of us can recognized a ‘moast’ from genuine concerns. Phillip, it would be fascinating to know if tHey do have any such term but I suspect unless they are secretly Twittering the Mayans probably are ‘moast’ free.

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