Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Censorship Sucks

The title of this blog post should tell you, right off the bat, what we're talking about here.

The topic of censorship may not immediately seem like it's directly related to e-publishing, but I beg to differ. I've never participated in the traditional publishing model, and I'm not against it, but I imagine that the process is somewhat different than that of e-publishing. When you've got a novel that you're uploading to Amazon, the only thing between you and publication is a few mouse clicks. If you're releasing your novel the old school way, there are a lot more steps along the line, and as such, there are more opportunities for someone to step in and demand that you excise objectionable content.

In the realm of e-publishing, the only person who can tell you to do that is yourself. And yet, I imagine that some people too often succumb to that voice. The voice that tells them they need to appeal to a massive audience in order to make a living at this. The voice that tells them not to rock the boat, lest they be forced to deal with opposing viewpoints. The voice that tells them to remain silent.

So, if I may: fuck that fucking voice right fucking now.

That doesn't mean you should pile a bunch of shocking content into your novel. If you're writing a nostalgic tale about childhood, make sure you don't throw in a violent murder scene simply so you can say that you did. I'm a comedy fan, and while shocking jokes may draw an audience in, you're not going to keep a following unless you show your fans that you actually have something valuable to say.

But, having something valuable to say often means saying what other people don't want to hear. Honestly, I suspect that most of the time, it means that. Whether it is rock and roll or revolutions, the most important advances in society have been made by people who flipped convention the finger and did whatever they damn well pleased.

True, that can have its consequences, but that's the world we live in, and I truly believe that the only reason that some "shocking" material thrives in the market is because it is taboo. If nothing were taboo, if nothing was shocking, then all the hacks who made their living by tossing a bunch of pointless sex and violence into paper-thin stories would fail very quickly.

I believe in the overall intelligence of a society, and I believe that if we're not distracted by controversy, we can sift through what is and what is not worthwhile.

So, no matter what it is you are writing about, don't self-censor. The only way to find out if your ideas are worth sharing is to go ahead and do it.