Business of Writing · Writing

Fuck you, Clean Reader

demolition_man_1993_3Author and blogger Chuck Wendig over at Terrible Minds put together a collection of thoughts that I share wholeheartedly regarding the new Clean Reader app that strips profanity from digital publications.

From the article:

“When I write a book, I write it a certain way. I paint with words. Those words are chosen. They do not happen randomly. The words and sentences and paragraphs are the threads of the story, and when you pluck one thread from the sweater, the whole thing threatens to unravel — or, at least, becomes damaged. You may say, Well, Mister Wendig, surely your books do not require the profanity, to which I say, fuck you for thinking that they don’t. If I chose it, and the editor and I agree to keep it, then damn right it’s required. It’s no less required than a line of dialogue, or a scene of action, or a description of a goddamn motherfucking lamp. Sure, my book could exist without that dialogue, that action, that goddamn motherfucking lamp.

But I don’t want it to. That’s your book, not my book.

My consent matters when it comes to the book.”

I also encourage you to go read Joanne Harris’s email and response from the creator of the Clean Reader app.

My writing isn’t peppered with profanity, but it exists. I also write sex scenes, and tackle difficult social topics on occasion. I’m not afraid to have gay characters. I’m not afraid to give my characters uncomfortable flaws, or put them in situations that make the average reader squirm. My writing involves a lot of supernatural and magical elements that blur the lines of fantasy and modern-day paganism. I’m also currently outlining a novel based on my 100 word short, where the  main character will be a ruthless serial killer.

At what point will some asshole who thinks he knows better and has superior morals decide to write a censorship app to remove my points of conflict and characterizations along with my choice in words? This goes beyond placing my book on a “banned book” list. This attempts to discredit me – the author – based upon a set of standards to which I personally do not adhere.

Here’s a little secret: Writers don’t write for an audience. We write for ourselves, and if the work has merit, an audience follows.

If the audience requires the work to be censored, then that audience can go find itself something else to read that is more suited to its desires.


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