Sunday, February 6, 2011

The third rail

I've blogged a fair amount about the need to write what we need to write, regardless of its reception in the world. And yet, writers can't help thinking about that reception, especially if the topic that calls to them is controversial. Some of the voices of inhibition include:

This will never sell.
Bookstores/libraries will never carry this.
People will send me hate mail about this.
What is my mother/son/wife going to think when they read this?
This isn't politically correct.
What if I offend people?
What if nobody wants to read about this?

The inhibiting voices buy into the notion that there are only some subjects that can be talked about, and they can only be talked about in certain ways, within certain guidelines. And yet, human experience is so vast. Are we really so fragile that we must limit what we read or discuss? And does it make sense to shut off entire spheres of human experience from our literature?

Sometimes, the writer reaches a point where silence becomes more painful than speech, no matter what consequences arise from speech.

People who imagine that writers tackle difficult subjects out of a desire to shock or get attention are, so often, 180 degrees from the truth.

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