Monday, January 13, 2014

My thoughts on the F-bomb

Not sure how to approach this post, but oh well, I usually just type up crap and hope it all comes out okay. (Hey! that's how I write too ;))

When I was twelve, I wrote a list in my journal of things I'd never ever do. After a really great discussion with my parents who told me if I commit to something now, it'll make it easier to say no when I actually face the decision in front of me. Some of the things on my list were never to drink alcohol, never lie, never cheat, never steal... etc. Some are deeper things I'd rather keep private, but you see my point.

Among that list was "Never use the F-word."

I know it's a common word. People use it all the time, and I'm okay with that... this is for ME. I put the word next to a few other words that kept flying off my tongue and each time I used them, it made me feel like crap. That one word had never touched my lips, and I swore (no pun intended) right then, when I was twelve, that it never would.

And with the exception of accidentally mispronouncing the word "Fudruckers" it never has.

I remember talking with my publisher one day about the limitations I have on my writing, what they expect from me, what they'd like me to push on the content boundaries. There's always that worry in a writer's brain that says, "If I say no, they're going to rip up that contract they just offered me." And yeah... that was DEFINITELY there, lol. But when it came to the question, what aren't you willing to do? And I said "I will never use the F-word." my editor was nothing but understanding and kind and still praised the work I've been giving them.

Because at twelve, I also told myself:

Never to let the popularity of something dictate the choices I make.

Is the F-word popular in entertainment? Yes.
Should that be the reason why I put it in my writing? No.

I recently sat at my computer, and I came to a part in the WIP where I was stuck on a reaction from a character. And I thought, "You know, an effer would be good here." I was going to type it. I kept telling myself it's not me who's saying it, it's my character. I'm not saying it out loud. I'm writing it. But I froze because I knew every time I came to a point in a manuscript when I wanted to use the word, I'd use it without hesitation. It'd fly from my fingers without another thought. And I knew from experience when I write characters, I start talking like them for a while.

I knew it wasn't me saying it, but I couldn't write it.

So instead of typing the four letters, I forced my creative brain to think "What would be a BETTER reaction?"

This is why you won't find it in any of my books. Or any of my future books. Am I pointing a negative finger at the books that do use the word? No. Did they make that commitment to themselves at 12? No. 

I did.

And I'd like to go back to that list and look at it knowing that despite the negativity I get from being "cleaner" in the use of language in my books (to some people), that I did it because it was the best decision for ME. There are so very few things I don't feel like a failure at, or insecure about, but this is one I'd like to keep at the 100% "I did it!" point. And all I can hope for is to write a decent book, with believable characters, and still be true to myself, without dropping an effer.

Spell for the day:

Reparo!

25 comments:

Kaylee Baldwin said...

Thanks for sharing this with us. My husband and I were just talking about this kind of thing last night--how we've made certain commitments that we want to have the integrity to follow through with, but that it doesn't mean we expect anyone else to make those same promises or commitments, just because we did and we can't judge them for that. <---Ha, that probably made no sense (although, it made sense in my head, like most things.) Anyway, I think your 12-year-old self would be proud, so good for you.

Johanna Garth said...

You have to be true to both yourself and your characters, which really are part of you. Sounds like you're doing a good job on both fronts.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good for you! It won't ever appear in my books, either. It wasn't in the science fiction books I read as a kid and I want a young person to be able to pick up my book without the language.
As for saying it... well, I'll admit, I'm not pure.

Murees Dupé said...

I respect you for sticking to what you believe in. It is hard to do in this day and age and you did, so you go girl!

ilima said...

I'm proud of you and your resolve. Can't say I'll never use the f-bomb in my books (though it's highly unlikely) but I CAN say I will never use the Lord's name in vain. That's a promise I made myself. And since I write mostly sci-fi, I can use made-up curses which are kind of fun. :)

Stephsco said...

I probably will not use the F word in my fiction either, since I very rarely use in my personal life (my husband asks me to say it once in his presence per year--he's weird (and enjoys creative cursing)). I do use other swear words but that's sort of my cut off and I really am not interested in using it in my writing. Other YA uses it and I'm fine, but it's not for me either.

Gwen Tolios said...

I'm quite jealous of your commitment to your 12 year old self. I used to hit people in HS for swearing cuz I felt it was so bad, but today drop a word here or there when I feel like the situation calls for it. Still, commitments are hard to make and hard to keep, so I applaud you for what you've done.

Carrie Butler said...

Most "bad words" have no meaning for me, since somebody just randomly decided they were profane one day. Like Ilima, though, I'll never use the Lord's name in vain--in my personal life or my books. That's just how I roll. :)

SLC Hallyu said...

And that's what makes you so awesome!! I love you! *hugs*

J. A. Bennett said...

And... I commented with wrong account *facepalm*

Katie Hamstead Teller said...

Good job at sticking to your guns. I'm the same and have sworn off using foul language. I don't like reading it, and I don't want to make anyone else uncomfortable for the same reason. Plus, I think forcing characters to use a wider vocab makes them smarter lol

Melissa said...

Good for you. I avoid f-bombs and GDs (etc.) in my books. But I'm not scandalized when I read them in someone else's.

JeffO said...

Funny, I selectively use the F-bomb, much more so around a particular group of friends, and never around my kids. The first time I put it down in one of my stories, it was extremely hard to do. I try not to overdo it (in books or life), but it is a part of my writing.

Good for you for making that vow and sticking with it!

Leandra Wallace said...

That's awesome you've held yourself to this promise for this long! Maybe I should make a list like this. Even though I'm a *little* past the age of twelve... Or, ok, a lot! =)

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Be true to yourself. I'm a bit slow to see Wolf of Wallstreet because of the record F-words. Not just because they're there (I watched Alpha Dogs and recently found out it has over 200 F-bombs) but because it has been promoted as a positive quality in the movie. I mean seriously, I watch movies to be entertained. Not told that cursing is entertainment. I don't use that word myself except in rare accidents and I think it is way over used. Good for you sticking to your guns Cassie.

Annalisa Crawford said...

Good for you. I actually use the F word quite a lot in my writing. The characters I write would say it - in fact one of my current characters would probably say it in every eff-ing sentence, if I eff-ing let him, so I have to find different ways to present him. That's a challenge!

sjp said...

Yeahhhh my language can get pretty coarse around mates, its like an old habit I slip into. But as soon as I return home or am with a different kind of group everything's proper ;)
I understand what you mean about it being a great reaction, and while I'm indifferent on the F-bomb front, I'd feel weird writing it.
Good job 12 year old you :)

Suzi said...

Good for you for sticking to your promise. If you're uncomfortable writing it/saying it, you shouldn't.

Robin said...

Given that you write YA/NA, I hope that this never becomes a problem for a publisher. I have been reading a lot in these genres lately and I rarely run across curse words. And I am HAPPY about it. I admit that sometimes I do if the characters are more like 18... but I think that all curse words should be used with caution, particularly when you are writing in the YA genre.

As for your choice... I see nothing wrong with it and I applaud you sticking to it.

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I'm with you! I too have little problem reading it. It doesn't make me cringe or anything, but it doesn't roll from my fingers when I am typing my own stories. It's just not me. Not saying I never will use it, but so far, it just hasn't felt right and to mine self I will be true.

Debra McKellan said...

Good for you!! :D

When I was a teen writing, I used it in a few of my short stories for realism, but when I grew up a little and read one of them back, thought: "Nah, backspace backspace." Not to say it's immature to use them, but if it's not your style, it's not your style, and that's ok.

Patrick Stahl said...

I can dig it. I don't include any cursing in my fiction, nor do I curse verbally.

Deborah Osborne said...

That's really cool that you've stuck to a promise you made to yourself when you were 12. I have problems sticking to goals I seta a week ago. It's also good that it challenges you to be more creative when you write.

Britney Gulbrandsen said...

Way to go for sticking up to your own personal goals! I admire that :)

I had a very similar discussion with my parents and came up with a similar list when I was around the same age.

Amy said...

As your reader - I thank you! I think it is way over used in YA/NA books as of late.

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