Thursday, October 2, 2008

The nice thing about being unpublished is...nobody reads your stuff

I know, that seems to make no sense at all, does it? Given how much effort I'm putting in to actually GETTING published. (And I'm not *completely* unpublished--see the column on the left.)

I'm probably being more than a little deluded here (the total chicken count is 12, even though they haven't yet hatched) but I've been thinking lately about the possible fallout if my book is ever actually available for purchase by people I know in real life.

There's nothing in there that will offend anyone *personally,* since none of my characters are based on anyone in particular, but I do have some slightly disturbing scenes tucked away. Including:

--A twelve-year-old girl who posts a naked video on the internet. (It's actually a little worse than that, but I'll just leave that part unsaid for now.)

--Two affairs, one written into a scene.

--A scene in which a little girl witnesses a violent crime.

Ok, so yeah. I don't particularly want my young daughters reading this content. It's not really all that illicit, but there's just enough there to know what's going on.

I also have the fear that people might think my MC's viewpoint is the way I see the world. It's only partially that way. I made up a character based on a tiny little sliver of me--a fear of mine, actually-- then exaggerated it and shaped it into an entire person. But her mom is dreadful (my mom is nothing like that), her husband clueless (I adore my husband), her best friend turns on her (mine's great), and she has it out with her daughter's slightly bitchy school headmistress (my daughter's headmistress is lovely).

I'm getting way ahead of myself, but these are the things I tend to obsess about.

Anyone else worried about unintentionally pissing anyone off with your writing?


Janna Leadbetter said...

No, not pissing anyone off really, but I've had the same thoughts about people reading too much into my fiction and considering it "me." There probably are some readers out there who do that, but I'd like to think the majority keep the works separate from how little they actually know about the author.

WendyCinNYC said...

I think there are quite a few readers who read into things, especially if they know the writer.

Like with my crazy housewife story. I had more than a few comments about seeing faces in the walls. Hopefully most people were kidding.

I don't see things! Really! Nor do I hear voices!

Rafael said...

Oh I know I am going to piss off some people, mainly my parents. My mother will object to some of the language I used, my father, well lets just say that he doesn't come out smelling like roses.

Angie Ledbetter said...

Think about a pen name. You cannot imagine the freedom it gives you as a writer. (Know what I'm talking about on this one!) ;) People often don't realize author/poets speak in many narrative voices, not necessarily autobiographical.

Great post topic!

WendyCinNYC said...

That's a good idea, Angie. I'll think about that.

Janet said...

Ah, write one of those acknowledgement intros and say all those nice things about the people in your life.

I'm not too worried. My protagonist is tall, dark, lean, taciturn, and a wizard in an alternate Earth. Really, really hard to find parallels with me. ;o)

Except when I did the Enneagram test, I realized we were the same personality type.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I'm not worried about it with my wip, but my memoir, yes. Lucky for me I'm focusing on my novel.

I think the people that know you will understand it's just a story & that it's not about them.

Debra Lynn Shelton said...

Yes, Wendy, I worry about it! I've gone back and forth as to whether to use real names, or change the names to protect the (not so) innocent. I'm especially dealing with it more now that I'm working on my second book, which is more of a true memoir as opposed to a comedy novel based loosely on my life. I like the idea of a pen name...!

WendyCinNYC said...

Maybe my pen name can be Cindy Webula.

Melanie Hooyenga said...


Anonymous said...

I wouldn't worry about it at all. As long as you're not blatently writing about someone, you are fine. Let the story tell itself. You have those scenes in there for a reason. Your children can read your books when the time is right in their lives and when they are old enough to understand the content. Never hold back in your writing.


Precie said...

Eh, so far I'm not too concerned. My historical WIP is relatively low risk in terms of people reading too much of me into it or pissing people off. My YA WIP is probably closer, but the main character is a different gender and still very different from my experience.

It's tricky...since there are always people who read things into a piece of writing that aren't there or who might piece together elements that weren't intended by the author.

But I kind of feel like I have to just ignore interpretations I can't least while I'm writing. Or else the anxiety would paralyze me.

Aside: Lack of marital communication is a recurring theme in some of my short stories. I did have to emphatically reassure poor hubby that those stories have nothing to do with my actual life...they're just stories. :)

Polenth said...

The important people (my family) know that my characters aren't me. Many readers are aware of that too. The writing where people seem least aware is poetry. I've had to explain the 'I' isn't me in poems, but it hasn't come up for stories.

Anonymous said...

Pissing people off is not my concern. Boring them is...