Is someone looking over your shoulder when you write?
Jen started this topic last week and I replied with a terse answer. I wanted to take it a step further.
As I said I don't have much of an issue with readers, mainly because I don't know them, and they don't really know me. If they object to something that I write, it doesn't bother me nearly as much as if it comes from someone I know.
What I do have a problem with, is family. To understand the reasons, you have to understand my upbringing. I was born and raised in Brookings, South Dakota. It's a small college town in the eastern part of the state, right in the middle of the corn belt, and near the border with Minnesota.
The population of about 15,000 is made up mostly of descendents of hard working Nordic, English, or Germanic people. I'm a half Norwegian, half English mix.
It is a very religious part of the country, not in a Southern Baptist way, but most of the residents that live there have deeply spiritual values.
For instance speakers like Billy Graham came around when I was a kid and drew tens of thousands of people to revival meetings held in the local stadiums. If you happened to go to one of those meetings, you would have found me there bored out of my mind. Yes, I was one of the unwilling participants.
Let's face it, when you are a kid, who wants to be dragged, yes dragged, to a church meeting when you could be causing trouble with your friends. There were a hundred other places I would rather be than listening to someone tell me how bad I was and how I needed to give my soul to the lord.
Don't get me wrong, I'm a Christian, but the every week same sermon about how I needed to come down the altar and turn my soul over to Jesus, got a little old. I did that last week, and I'm supposed to do it again?
My family is very religious. Both of my parents used to be very active participants at the church, and most of my brothers and sisters still go every week.
So it was with some trepidation that I submitted my entry to the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards. You see it was a military thriller in which a few of the characters are soldiers. Not namby pamby soldiers, real soldiers. Soldiers that are there to get the job done and run over what's in their way. Soldiers that work hard and play even harder. Soldiers that don't mess around with nasty situations and aren't afraid to swear a blue streak when things go bad.
Yeah, swear words. That didn't go over well with the family.
You know how gossip seems to travel faster than light in a tight family. Well, that's what happened. I posted the story for the contest and next thing I know it's my mother on the phone.
"Your book has swear words in it...."
"I know mom"
"Why do you have to write such stuff?"
"It's what I'm good at and like to write"
"Why can't you write something that's more Christian?"
"Because it would be terrible and no one would buy it."
"I still don't see why you had to swear. What if my friends read it?"
Uh Oh, here comes the guilt trip.
"Mom, it's not me doing the swearing. It's just the character. I have to make them sound real or the story won't work."
"Well I hope that God will forgive you."
So now you see my quandry. It's a daily struggle for me to put it out of my mind, but I do... Uhh soldier on...
The good news is that my latest isn't about soldiers and doesn't contain a lot of swearing. So maybe there is some hope for me after all.
Do you have anyone watching over your shoulder when you write?