My friend Laura Ellen Scott posed an interesting question at the end of a blog post a few months back. The question was what does your family/community think of what you do, and does that affect how you write?
My mom isn’t crazy about my writing. Don’t get me wrong: she does the best she can when reading my swear-leaden prose which conflicts directly with her Southern Baptist morals. She encourages my art, but can’t avoid saying things like “I’m not crazy about the language”.
I don’t write things she disagrees with on purpose. It’s my muse’s fault.
My muse is a foul-mouthed, white-trash sadist. Think 1990’s Courtney Love, only Southern and into pills instead of heroin. I don’t mind a bit. I made peace with her a long time ago. The problem lies with some of my loved-ones.
My mom asked me to send her a copy of my next book with all of the “bad language” blacked out with a marker. I happily agreed. It’s a compromise I can live with, even if it my integrity suffers a little. Mothers are worth compromising integrity for now and again.
I have tried to tone it down, to write things more suitable for my mostly conservative family. But the writing reflected my restraint, and that wasn’t okay.
My community of friends and writers aren’t as squeamish about foul language, fornication and overdoses. They accept that my muse would never be invited to sit on the PTA. But I am not my muse. I’m just a writer.