Wednesday, April 10, 2013

How close is too close?

How close is too close?  At what point does a subject become too important to you to tackle properly, or risk putting a story out there about?

When is a subject too close to you?  When is it out of bounds because you can't let it go enough to release to publishers or public?  When is it just too personal to even think about publishing?

I have two stories just recently that I've decided to self-censor.  And by that I mean, at least currently, the whole hog; they'll be for me and not for publication.

I wish I could cheerfully follow Dean Wesley Smith's guidelines about "mailing it or publishing it" and letting others decide if it's good enough.

But I'm not there.  Some subjects are so personal, or close to my heart, or whatever, it actually can be quite difficult to do anything with them or show them to anyone.

Which is a problem, because people write their best when writing about something they care about passionately, right?

The two stories I've decided not to currently publish both deal with the aftereffects of sexual abuse of young people.  These aren't personal experiences, just something I care about deeply.  (And why do I need to clarify that?  Why is there so much shame in talking about this subject?)

Anyway, yes, I self-censor.  I try to guess whether my work is good enough or not, and if it's a subject I'm comfortable publishing or not.  (That's a relative term, actually.  How 'comfortable' is any part of being an author?  Aside, of course, from writing when you're really in the zone.)

Also, I don't consider myself a writer of erotica.  But my characters do have sex lives, preferably in committed, loving relationships, and sometimes I have to decide how much to show.  I usually air on the side of "less is more."  But again, that's a case-by-case decision.  How do I tell this story correctly, while staying true to my vision of it?

So, how close is too close?  To emotion, to lovemaking, to the raw, dark wounds people carry?

How close is too close?

For some authors, maybe nothing is out of bounds.  Maybe they have no qualms writing about anything.  But each author needs to find their own path, not just follow what someone else tells them, right?  And if you do have concerns about what you're willing to share, how do you decide?  Do you just wing it, like me, and try to follow your gut?  Or do you set personal guidelines?

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