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TheEarCollector
November 30th, 2004, 12:07 AM
Writing is an art to me. Sometimes things just have to be done a certain way in order to be right...
This is basically a ranted dedicated to the artistic use of profanity in writing. What do I mean by that? I mean you don't just throw out profanity every other sentence, and you don't use profanity as a detached narrator, but the characters use profanity as an expression of who they are.
If a character says, "What the f--K?" it instantly tells us that he isn't as concerned about his image as he could be, it tells us that whatever he is questioning is something significant (otherwise, why not say, "What the hell?"), and it gives us an idea of the tone he speaks with and class he comes from.
So what does this have to do with the friends and family? Well, the title was catchy when it had friends in it ;) Friends are chosen, and if they are the kind of people you choose to hang out with then they most likely know who you are and how you write. The post mainly deals with family and how your work is accepted (or rejected) by them.

My family and I don't get along at all, so I don't let them see my work, and we get along just fine. I unfortunately have to live with them for another month though, and gave my dad a copy of a story to make photocopies. The problem arose when my mom decides she is going to go through it and then my parents decide to lecture me on how I should write and what is appropriate...
I don't need them to tell me what they think is appropriate, nor do I want them too. My story is out the door to be published, and they are telling me how poorly written it is because a character used profanity on one occasion. If I had it my way, my work would be published and they would only ever know that it had been published, but they would never see it.

I have the fiancÚ's family too which I am sure would give me the same response and pass judgement on what they think is appropriate or not, and once again, I really don't care what they think. I am sure that if they ever read my stories they too will be unable to understand that a character is not a reflection of the writer... And a character's speech is in no way related to the writing style of the author.

This post is more of venting, and reaching out to other authors to see how you deal with problems like this. What do you do when you finally get a story out there and your family passes judgement on you as an individual for the content of your story?
It's very frustrating, and it angers me that I had to be lectured tonight on a subject that neither of my parents knows nothing about because it doesn't fit their moral standards. How do you deal with family trying to interfere with your art because they don't agree?
I ignore them, but that doesn't mean it still doesn't get to me. And what do you do about family when they haven't read your writing? Do you try to explain what writing really is or do you just give up and have them form whatever poorly thought out perceptions of you that they can come up with?

To me, this is the most difficult part about writing - How the people you know perceive it. To the person I never talk to in a class, I could care less how he feels about it; My friends know that this is who I am and this is what I write; My family is supposed to care though, and I know they never will. How do you deal with someone trying to destroy your art when you want them to see if for what it is?

Expendable
November 30th, 2004, 01:49 AM
You add a little salt in cookie dough to make the sugar sweeter.

You add a little profanity to your story to make the point.

If there was no evil, it wouldn't be enough just to be good.

They might not accept any reason you offer. Parents do that. I think the only thing you can do is nod, accept their criticism and let it go.

Rocket Sheep
November 30th, 2004, 03:39 AM
Some family members look for themselves in every story. And find bits of themselves in every monster. It's a sign of their insecurity, IMHO.

If the story is good... it's generally appreciated no matter how gory or ugly. Perhaps early work should be reserved for other writers only... people who appreciate what you're trying to express.

Mod note:
It's very hard to write a thread about profanity in writing and not use it but please try. Some words are not appreciated as expletives on this forum and I'm sure we'll all know what you mean if you say f-word instead of spelling the word obscurely.

JamesL
November 30th, 2004, 05:11 AM
I don't let my parents see my work at all. That's because I know my mum will just say "That's very good" regardless of how terrible it is, and my dad would probably do the same, then whisper to my mum "I wish he would write proper literature instead of all this fantasy stuff."
I let my brother read some, but not much as he is not widely read in fantasy, even though he's into it.

Only person who I let read my work is my girlfriend, as I can trust her to be totally honest. Plus it is helpful to get an alternative view on it to catch the inevitable things that you miss.

As for what to do when someone gives you unfair criticism? Ignore it. It's your story. Your parents have a different perspective on everything, and if it doesn't match yours then ignore it.

Sir Stephen
November 30th, 2004, 07:42 AM
Sorry to hear about the parents. I think my parents would react in a similar way, they'd be shocked at any use of swear words and especialy sex scenes.

Luckily I have my brother who reads the same sort of things I read, and I told him the outline of my story idea, if (sigh) I ever actualy get round to writing it. He's not always an easy person to convince so I was surprised when this time he was really enthusiatic and told me to write it. Which I might actualy do.

TheEarCollector
November 30th, 2004, 09:32 AM
I am just venting to other writers I guess...
Profanity isn't a big deal to me because, let's face it, that's the way real people talk so that's the way a character will talk. I don't throw thirty instances of the word into one paragraph, it was used one time. I refuse to change it for them, and I refuse to show it to them.

My main thing was that they went through my stuff, searching for something to complain about, and found it. So what happens now that's it's going out? Do I just deny that my writing has been published so I don't have to hear about it from them, or do I just casually mention that my story has been published and let them seek it out, or do I hand them a copy of the book and tell them to enjoy?
That was really what this post was more directed to - I know they will never accept it for what it is, they will always know how to do it better and that's why they can't write. I wanted to know how you react to stuff when it DOES get out, and they haven't seen it yet. I don't feel like hiding it, but I don't necessarily think it's worth telling them about...

Gary Wassner
November 30th, 2004, 03:07 PM
I don't know if you would feel better or worse if you published three books and your mother or father never even attempted to read them.

Every review you receive, whether from a family member or some stranger you will probably never even meet, cuts to the bone if it is not good. Writing for public consumption is a masochistic exercise. The adulation is never enough and the criticism is always too much. It is even more difficult to deal with when it comes to those whom you really do care about; your family, your children, parents, wife, husband....

The very fact that you are a writer probably explains why you are sensitive. Without that characteristic, your writing would suffer enormously. You probably wouldn't be an author. Hence, the irony!

Miriamele
November 30th, 2004, 04:59 PM
I understand where you're coming from EarCollector. You're in a difficult position, but I believe that once you don't live with your parents anymore and are starting a life of your own this won't seem like such an issue.

I also am unfortunate enough to still be living with my parents at the ripe old age of 26 (even though I'm married). My parents are very conservative, religious, and in my opinion, narrow minded. My dad doesn't even believe that anyone should read fiction at all, because it's like "cotton candy for the mind, it just rots it." My mom doesn't really like reading, although she isn't dead set against it like my dad is. However they are the kind of parents who want to be involved in their children's lives. I've never shown them my work but I know if I ever got anything published, they would go buy it and read it. And this knowledge, as much as it shouldn't matter, sometimes holds me back when I'm writing.

At my age I shouldn't be worrying about what I do being accepted by my parents. And really, I'm not; it's more like, the idea of upsetting them deeply upsets me, because I'm not a mean person. I write fantasy, which contains a good dose of magic, violence, and sex. If my parents ever read anything of mine they would be horrified. Especially my dad, who would immediately go into mourning that his daughter is on the road to hell if she's writing something which was obviously inspired by Satan himself. I'm not being sarcastic here; that's really what he would say. He would want to burn my book for the "evil witchcraft" it contained.

I can't help but think about this when I'm writing. But I try very hard to ignore the little voice in the back of my head that says I should quit, or change the kind of writing I do. I have to do what is in my heart. My writing has to reflect who I am, not who my parents are. I can't be happy any other way. If I do ever get published, and my parents hate my work, so be it. There's nothing I can do about it. I'm sure it wouldn't be the first time this has happened to a writer or any kind of artist.

When other people in my family (aunts and uncles, etc.) ask about my writing I try to explain that I write fantasy, but most people don't even understand what it is. Usually I get funny looks when I talk about my books, so I try to keep quiet about them as much as possible. I'm too sensitive about my writing! I need to gain some confidence about it, and so do you, EarCollector. I know it's easier said than done, but just try not to care so much what your parents think. Their opinions don't matter in the long run.

Expendable
November 30th, 2004, 05:07 PM
....So what happens now that's it's going out? Do I just deny that my writing has been published so I don't have to hear about it from them, or do I just casually mention that my story has been published and let them seek it out, or do I hand them a copy of the book and tell them to enjoy?
That was really what this post was more directed to - I know they will never accept it for what it is, they will always know how to do it better and that's why they can't write. I wanted to know how you react to stuff when it DOES get out, and they haven't seen it yet. I don't feel like hiding it, but I don't necessarily think it's worth telling them about...

By not telling them about it, you're hiding it.

From what I've learned, if you try hiding something from Mom and Dad that everyone else knows, its never gonna turn out good for you.

Let them know you're writing. Let them know you submitted your manuscript.
Don't let them see the book until its accepted.
Give them an autographed copy when it comes out.

Who knows, they might actually be proud of you.

KatG
December 1st, 2004, 12:22 AM
Well, I guess the question is, do your parents make a habit of going through your stuff and treating you like you're 14 years old or did they do so because they feared something was wrong in your life or did they do so because you are about to leave home and get married (which I'm hoping personally means you're over the age of 21,) and they had an empty nest panic attack? Because that's a bigger issue, to my mind, than that they objected to you using profanity in your writing. The profanity is probably not the main objection going on there, in their minds, nor the main problem you're having dealing with your family. The main problem is that your privacy was invaded, which is a problem that may indeed fade when you've moved out.