"I'm willing to show good taste, if I can, in somebody else's living room, but our reading life is too short for a writer to be in any way polite.” John Updike
I'm having to make some changes to Christian lore to accommodate plot for SCAR. This is something I've been resisting for awhile now, but I realized that that's just how it's going to have to go down. The problems are twofold.
1. Someone, somewhere, who reads it will probably a) not like it b) think I'm an idiot c) open up their teensy brain and reconsider their own world view.
2. What do the changes mean and do I have to know what it means? Or can they just be?
After extensive conversations this weekend (you know who you are, thx) I've come to the realization that I've an obligation to insert my world view, my perspective on the unfolding events. I can do it at the writing level. I know how I want to structure sentences and dialogue to garner a certain feeling, to get sympathy, to make a reader frustrated with a character. I'm improving at structuring scenes.
But at some point a writer must jump off the cliff--that big one over there, hidden amid the trees, into a roaring river, swollen with spring snow-melt, and let the current carry you, rocks be damned.
A fellow critter says I have a particular talent for saying profound things that no one understands. Maybe that's true. Or maybe it just makes sense to me, and that has to be enough. I'm a firm believer in writing for readers - reading is very much a collaboration. But at some point a writer has to say "Here it is, here's what I think. Fuck you very much if you don't like it."
A short story. The other day acquaintances asked me something about the Rockies baseball team. I was honest and said I don't like baseball. I think I said something else, like maybe "waste of time" or "like watching paint dry". I can't really recall, but I know I was joking. Someone was in a position to witness their reaction as they turned away and reported that I'd offended them. I'm not really sure why...I don't think I was rude, maybe just disconcerting. (I'm a geek. Talking to me is often disconcerting, I'm sure.) And also, c'mon, it's baseball. It's not like I said we should abolish world peace.
Point is, honesty is something I practice in every day life. You pretty much get what you see with me. But am I doing it in my fiction? I don't think so. Sometimes I don't think I'm smart enough to impose my world view on someone else. Or maybe I'm too repressed. But really, in the end, a book is a conversation. Maybe if someone reads my stuff and disagrees, thereby firming up their own world view, then that's enough. I don't really know yet.
Writers? What have you had to write that put yourself out there, on the line? And how did it go down?