WRITING LIFE: Supportmanteaus for Writers by Katherine Revelle

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Editor’s Note: Writing Life is taking an October humor break thanks to artist and writer Katherine Revelle, who I met at HippoCamp 2019. When I saw her at HippoCamp 2021, she told me about her “supportmanteaus,” words she created about the writing life. Katherine created the word “supportmanteau” from the word “portmanteau.” A portmanteau is a word that blends the sounds and combines the meanings of two words. (“Motel,” for example, combines “motor” and “hotel.”) Enjoy a few of Katherine’s creations and let us know: Does the seahorse look familiar? — Kristen Paulson-Nguyen, Writing Life editor


Definition that uses a seashorse as the 'S' in the word: Supportmanteaus: A coming together of words in support of writers who've cared for them so well


creative non-frictionn. \krē-ā-tiv nän-frik-shən\(orig. friction, creative nonfiction)

A seahorse character looks at his writing to do list.

“Sometimes you have to let things slide and give yourself a creative non-friction day.”

The genre of writing-adjacent work characterized by the writer’s use of quasi-productive tasks; a literary avoidance device allowing one to glide atop the surface of a work in progress if delving beyond the superficial elicits considerable resistance.

See also: work-around, adaptitude, skimprovising



successorizing – v. \sik-ˈses-ə-ˈrī-ziŋ\ (orig. success, accessorizing)

A procrastinating seahorse shops online for writing gifts hoping for a magical dose of motivation.

“I’m not procrastinating, I’m successorizing!”

Habitually acquiring new accoutrements believing the exchange of monies for goods might create enchanted objects capable of conjuring magical—or financial guilt-based—surges in motivation. Common among practitioners of wordcraft: e.g., pens, journals, spell books, hydration cauldrons etc.

See also: shoptimism, practical magic




friennuin. \fren-ˈwē\ (orig. friend, ennui)

A seahorse looks out the window, wondering if he wants company or another book to read.

The book ends. Emptiness begins. I long for companionship, but from whom, an old friend or a new book? Ah, l’impasse, le friennui…*le sigh.*


The ambivalent lassitude felt when you want to, wish you wanted to, or worry that you really should be more social, only to find yourself unable to resist the comfortable companionship of other writer’s words and worlds. Often accompanied by wine, cheese and far away stares. A very French, film noir mood.

See also: hygge, escapism, 2020, 2021

Meet the Contributor

Katherine Revelle is a Boston-based writer, physician, and fledgling illustrator. You can find her essays and humor writing in the Washington Post, Ravishly, The Belladonnas, and elsewhere. A graduate of The Second City Satire Writing Program, and perennial student of creative nonfiction at GrubStreet in Boston, she feels most at home writing on the sharp edge of humor and poignancy. Katherine is also a Moth StorySLAM champion with a well-honed knack for alchemizing paralyzing stage fright into over-preparation. Follow her on twitter @katervelle, or follow the trail of Post-its, empty Fresca cans and half-read books. You’ll likely find her recopying to-do lists with a newer, cooler pen.

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