Reminder to self: don’t read reviews. I know this and then I forget it. Back in May, I made a version of A Lonely Magic with fewer swear words and it’s the one that’s posted on Amazon now. I checked Author Central today, because I like to check the review count now and then, and the top review was complaining about the swear words in A Lonely Magic. Perfectly nicely, and I don’t mean to complain about the review itself. I appreciate everyone who bothers to write reviews. Certainly the fact that Wedding Guests only has five reviews is far more demoralizing than any one-star ever written.
But I thought, well, okay, I could make her or him a version of ALM with no swear words whatsoever and I opened up the file and started deleting swear words. And then I reached one where there is simply no substitute. There is no other word that could possibly be substituted for “fuck” and convey the same meaning and tone. So I stopped myself and thought, “What am I doing?” At a certain point, Fen’s voice is just gone. She becomes just another bland heroine. And why? The world is filled with objectionable words that Fen doesn’t use–racist terms and names for body parts and derogatory words for people with disabilities. At this point, the story contains 35 uses of fuck, 51 uses of shit, 50 uses of damn, and 76 uses of hell. 212 swear words out of 70,000+ words. If that’s really a problem, then okay, it’s a problem, and I need to let those readers go.
And the good thing about reaching that “fuck” that was unreplaceable was that I also realized that I was making a huge mistake. I don’t want the readers who can’t handle 212 swear words, because Fen’s sexual history, past and present, should not be right for those readers. I fully intend to take Fen to a place where sex is important to her, but she’s starting in a place where she shrugs off casual sex. And yes, I think that’s because she’s been damaged by her past and I want her to get to a (IMO) healthier place where she believes in love, but she’s not there now. And a reader who can’t handle fuck should also not be reading about a heroine who thinks sex is trivial. Or at least I don’t think so. Those swear words are protection for readers who should stay idealistic. Not all readers are the right readers, and I’m not going to change ALM to appeal to everyone, because not everyone should be reading it.
Oops, and my time is up, I need to be leaving the house ten minutes ago. Eleven minutes ago! Sorry, Lynda. 🙂
But great writing yesterday, over 2000 words, and I’m planning on the same for today. Many, many words!