writing wrongs

writing presents a number of ethical dilemmas, i’ve discovered. for example, how far are you willing to take a character into darkness? and, depending on how you answer that, does that violate your conscience or convictions in any way, shape or form?

let’s take, for example, cursing. that’s an easy one.

some out there have no problem with cursing. you can recognize them as the ones who do it all the time, in public, online, grandma’s birthday party – no concern for whether other people (or children, which are also people, i guess) are around. f**k them for being there, right?

and some take issues with certain words. to use myself as an example, i refuse to use religious profanity in my writing. there are a number of reasons for this, but one is to avoid hypocrisy.

some have no problem using the exclamation of “Jesus Christ” with one of their characters, but i can assure you these same people would never consider using “Siddharta Gautama” or “Mohammed” this way at the risk of being culturally insensitive. i certainly wouldn’t, so why would i do that with the name of “Jesus Christ”? that would be hypocritical, holding a double-standard to say “i can profane this name/religion, but not this one.” maybe you disagree. whatever. f**k you.

now, my own characters say all kinds of “shit” that i would never say in real life, and i think that’s totally alright if it lends authenticity to the character and story. this is the problem with a lot of so-called “Christian” movies out there. they aren’t willing to write characters who curse or (God forbid) have sex, which leaves their stories emasculated and lacking believability. well, f**k that.

also, how does one justify leading their characters into temptation? if i write a character who rapes a 9-year-old girl, what does that say about the state of my mind? does that put me in a position where, as the writer, i am actively dwelling on the thought of what it’s like to rape a child – or am i simply pointing out how terrible a thing that is?

invariably, there are those out there who refuse to write such material – sometimes because of past pain or someone they know, or feeling that words cannot ever do justice to such atrocities (which is true – even words are limited in their power).

every writer must come to terms with what wrongs he/she is willing to write, what sins he/she is willing to put onto paper. remember, every misdeed of your characters is repeated with each re-reading, a reincarnation of sin and mistakes. yet, without it, we are left with really nothing to write about.

even children’s literature is full of people doing terrible things and making awful mistakes – lying, back-stabbing, stealing – and all manners of wickedness. there’s just no avoiding it in a world as broken as ours.

and for some writers, some who believe that man is inherently good, there is a double-conundrum. how do you write characters who are so bent, so broken, when that possibly contradicts your own philosophical stance on the state of mankind? are you a hypocrite to believe man is good and yet write a standard, dubious, devilish, dastardly villain? are you calling yourself a liar? does this mean you must give all your characters a shot at redemption in order to not violate your conviction? or will this just breed sympathy for your villain and wreck your plot?

such are the ethical dilemmas of the writer, though. “to write wrongs or to not write wrongs?” is not the question, but rather, “which wrongs to write? and how many wrongs to write?” it’s a f**kin’ pickle.

but it’s the lot we’re dealt, so deal with it. every writer has to be part-villain in order to create the wrongs that need righting. after all, it’s our fault alone that our characters get into the shit they get into.

but whatever you decide, make sure you’re at peace with your decision. because if (i mean, when) your work get published, produced, or prostituted – those words and scenarios are our there forever.

by the way, the ** in f**k is substituting for the letters “l” and “i”. i hate that fuckin’ word.


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