Monday, October 14, 2013

Writers, never be ashamed of your subject matter

Photo credit: lucianotb (stock.xchng)
If you write about taboo, difficult, or controversial subjects, you will encounter people who will try to make you feel ashamed of your words:

You have a filthy mind.

Why do your characters have to cuss so much? You have more imagination than that.

Violence is cheap conflict.

That is racist/sexist/homophobic language, and it will cause unnecessary pain.

Statements like these are not about the writer. They are about the critic and his/her personal dislikes, which are as individual and as idiosyncratic as a fingerprint.

You can’t pull back your words because someone, somewhere, will dislike them. Because that is a guarantee, no matter what you write. You can write the mildest “inspirational” (i.e., conservative Christian) romance possible, and someone will still hate it.

Sex is a part of life. So is violence. Anger. Strong language. Bigotry. Thoughts that are not nice, polite, or civilized.

They are all things that happen in life.

Is it wrong to speak about things that happen in life?

We writers must write the scenes and use the words that our story demands. Not edit them based on fear of a real or imaginary critic.

I used to be ashamed of my controversial writing. No more. I have too many words left in me to waste time on shame.

And so do you.

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