Thursday, November 3, 2011

Insecure Writer's Group: Moral Dilemmas

Wow... I must seriously be on a roll here. Two posts in two days? Hell is probably freezing over. Just so you know.

Haha. I'm a joker. 

Anyway, as the first Wed-nes-day of the month, it's time for the wonderful Insecure Writer's Group post! [Horray!] Although, unlike most of my posts, I have something to talk about this time that's a little less jovial than my normal oh-so-sarcastic self. This is because I really wanted to find something that I am truly, TRULY deep down and insecure about, rather than something I'm just kind of insecure about. I think this group can do a lot of good, but I don't want to be talking about superfical insecurities when the issues we SHOULD be hashing out are the hard ones! 

So as I was thinking about something I could talk about that just makes my skin crawl with insecurity, I came up with this:

I worry a lot when my writing isn't exactly in line with the "standards" "morals" "social norms"--whatever you want to call them--that I grew up with. Mostly because I worry about offending people who are close to me.

See, here's the thing, when I create my characters, I try to be true to that character. If my character is a no-good-dirty-rotten scum bag, well then, he's a dirty rotten scum bag and I'm gunna write him that way! Would I personally torture and murder a guy out of political motivations? Absolutely not. But would my bad guy? You better believe it! The problem is that some people find this aggression offensive, even when its purely fiction and does not reflect on my own personal views whatsoever. 

I guess you could say that I'm insecure about offending people close to me [I don't care about you strangers... haha! Jk!] But the bad guys have to be bad... know what I'm saying? 

How do you balance this issue? Trying not to be overly offensive but still getting your point across? I know the easy answer is to just say: "Poo on you! I don't care if you're offended or not!" But really? That's actually NOT the easy answer. Because then, you know, you're like the talk of the family reunion. And not in a good way. Familia exile for life. That kind of thing. 

Okay, so I'm being a bit extreme. But you get the idea. 

My point is, that this is a tough act for me to balance. And since I know some of you don't even worry about it, or have your solutions down to a science, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!


M.S Tucker said...

Personally, I always have TV show that I say, "No! It's not me! I based it off of some ABC Family show!" Which isn't necessarily a falsehood since I do get most of my character personalities from movies and books I've read. My life is so stinkin' boring at times that I have too. So if I need a baddie, Heath Ledger in the Dark Knight! A scoundrel? I go to Willoughby from Sense and Sensibility. If I'm looking for "Snarky" or a "something always to say" girl, Sandra Bullock in Miss Congeniality or The Proposal. Person who takes out the trash? Take your pick of superhero movies!! With those, you get a dirtball and a hero as a 2 for 1 deal!

Its like when people say, "actors are great liars". I acted for over ten years and nothing of what I did was "lying". The TRUE definition for acting is, "Living truthfully in imaginary circumstances".

Are you not, as an author, living truthfully in imaginary circumstances?

Isn't it exhausting trying to fit yourself to make other people happy? Been there done that (and it tore my family apart)! Only to find that at the end of the day of trying my best, judgements made me feel at my worse. Like I wouldn't measure up to their "Godly Expectations". Even though it's not Godly to judge people in the first place. God is the judge of all things and when this life is over, it's not going to matter what the other person thought of you and if you pleased them or not.

Brinda said...

It's crossed my mind on more than one occasion. After reading about some of the dark YA books topics, I can imagine the discussions I'd encounter if I were the author. I live in a small community in the Bible belt. I think you would know going into it that you should be ready for the conversations. Great post.

Christa said...

My stepdad found my story about rape on his computer and called it "pornographic crap." Yeah, I hear what you're saying. But really, we're not writing for them, right?

Heather M. Gardner said...

You can't please all the people all the time.
Every song is not written about the songwriter.
Not all art is a self portrait.
Every book does not reflect the author's morals and ethics.
You have to write the way you want.
Just keep writing.
Thanks for sharing with us.

Anonymous said...

Hi there,
I am just popping in from Alex's insecure writers group and it's taking me to get around everybody's blogs and say "hi". I will pop by your blog as often as I can. Nice to "meet" you.
Eve. :)

Julie said...

Mandi: seriously great advice, girl. And I love how you compare writers to actors. In a way, its so true. We are acting out our character's lives through the written word. Love it.

Brinda: this is true. Of course, I write YA, so its not like my work is ever X rated or anything. But different people have different thresholds for the "dark side." And of course, I know its impossible to please everyone. But its always nice when the important people in life support you ( :

I agree with your sentiment about "imagining an interview" setting too. I've thought about this a lot and agree its good to know what you're going to say. Thanks for your thoughts!

Christa: ugh. Ouch. See, and I know we arent writing for those kind of people, but still... it doesn't feel good to get that kind of crap from loved ones. In the end, I suppose its most important to be true to the story, nasty commentator be damned! I guess my post should have been about "how to get relatives to give loving support 101". Alas! If only it were that simple!

Heather: wise, poetic words. I especially like that you compared it to music. This is so very true. Thanks for sharing ( :

Eve: Hi!! Thanks for stopping by! It's so nice to see you here!!

tawnya said...

Oh, this. THIS! I struggle with this A LOT. I'm in the "I don't care" camp on paper, but it's still so difficult.

Tristyn said...

I know exactly how you feel about this. In my first novel I really watched what happened just in case it went against the grain but still ended up with a few things "I don't think Grandma would like" in the story.

The novel I'm writing now is going to be how it NEEDS to be so the characters can show who they really are and help progress the story where it need to go. I totally feel you on this one.... it's hard to balance it.

Julie said...

Tawnya: I'm with ya girl. I fall into the "I don't care" camp on paper. But it sucks getting the nasty crap for it. Too bad there isn't a HP spell that could make it go away, eh?

Tristyn: SO glad I'm not alone. Its good to hear that others struggle with the same thing. I know that I need to be true to my characters regardless of "public opinion". But its hard. And its nice knowing others are in the same boat!

Madeleine said...

Oh I can see how that would be immensely inibiting. I'd suggest you wrote it, then put it aside for a few months and then re-read it to see if what you've written still seems as controversial or unpalatable to others as you imagined, that way you can see it more subjectively without affceting your writing output/creative flow.
Thanks for dropping by to see my 1st IW post. I have belatedly added my 2nd insecure writers post for this month today.

Julie said...

Madeleine: that's a really good idea. Its always helpful to reread things after giving it a break. Obviously, this should be no different!

Thanks for the tip AND for stopping by!

Heather said...

Caring about what those closest to you think is a good thing, in my opinion. That means you have a great relationship with them and they mean a lot to you. However, you just have to have faith in them that they'll understand that it's a work of fiction, and sometimes fiction is as dark as reality.

Julie said...

Heather: wise words. For now, Im staying true to my writing. But its still so uncomfortable an hurtful knowing that there are certain people I'm close to, who I know don't approve. Hopefully one day they'll appreciate that I was true to my art.