Yesterday I wrote the rough draft of a spec script involving Native Americans. I think I might go to hell for the politically incorrect nature of what I wrote and I’m okay with that. In fact, I feel rather liberated by the whole thing because when I worked on Hot Tamara and In Between Men, my editor asked me to cut out some lines and passages that she felt were too inflammatory for chick lit readers. I did it because I was so excited to be published and I was careful not to do anything that would displease my editor. But I’ve always regretted cutting out those lines and passages because as ugly as they might have been, they were real. In a way, I think by pink-washing those books, they weren’t as strong and relevant as they could’ve been.
(Then again, I think I make up for it with the sex scenes.)
The more I write, the more willing I am to stand up for my own work. My mom says its because I’m 35 and the older we women get, the less crap we take from people. Nonetheless, I’m more willing to honor my work for what it is. I’m more willing to be honest and write characters who push buttons, even if they’re the ones we’d rather pretend didn’t exist.
Earlier this week, Norman Lear was featured on CBS Sunday Morning and he talked about his controversial and wildly successful show, All In the Family. Lear’s work is infamous for tackling the issues of the day – rape, abortion, racism, etc – through comedy and of that he said, “You know, you could hear anything we were saying in a schoolyard. What was the big surprise?”
Here’s a link to this story, if you’re interested.
For those of you who are trying to break into publishing and you get notes from agents and editors who ask you tone things down or smooth over a character’s dialogue that might offend readers, its natural that you want to please them.
Like Kenny said, “You gotta know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away and know when to run.”
Perhaps this blog is more relevant to romance writers because RWA still debates the merits of books that employ strong language. (Am I mistaken but do women not cuss?) Anyway, take this from someone who now knows better: please the gatekeepers to a point and not at expense of your work’s integrity.