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message 1: by Bonita (new)

Bonita Rose | 6 comments Let me warn you. This post is gonna be all about me ranting about the dreaded censor... if you're a serious writer, you know what I'm talking about.

As one of my writing friends, Robert Masello puts it, 'before you can really get any book rolling, much less done, there's a fearsome beast you've just got to get past. It guards the gateway to any book, and snarls so fiercely that many writers pick up their heels and run for it. This beast represents a big problem, one that you have just got to come to terms with, because if you don't, your book will suffer for it. You'll be writing the whole thing while trying to look over your own shoulder, and that, I can tell you, is a surefire way to run smack into a tree.'
Let me interject here. I've been trying really hard to keep the censor at bay. I've read the best way to write an auto-biography or memoir is to just write, to just let it all flow, then go back later for minor revisions and rewrites. That is the time to tweak the words, the sections, the pages into a real work of heart.
At times, it's so hard writing the story of your life. For the memories you share, are your memories, not necessarily the same memories of those you're writing about. You are writing your story.
I am writing my story. The way I saw things. The way I felt. How I survived. How I overcame. Some may not think I had much to overcome, but they weren't walking in my shoes at the time. How could they know? It's why I'm writing the book I'm writing.
Let me share more from my friend, Robert.

'The censor is the nasty little voice that keeps whispering in your ear, "You can't say that.You'll hurt Harriet's feelings, " or "Better not include that scene, Uncle Ben will know who you're talking about," or "Sex? You're going to include sex? Your mother is going to be reading this book!"

The censor is the one that keeps pushing you away from your own experience, your own true feelings, in a futile attempt to render everything you write, so neutral, so unrecognizable, so foreign to your own real perceptions that not a soul you know, living or dead, could possibly take offense.
Am I prepared to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? - As I felt it, as I lived it, as I remember it?'
The dreaded censor.
Writing a memoir is hard work.

I walk a fine line. A very fine line.
Do I write my book as I remember things, as I felt them?
Or do I write my book with the dreaded censor on my shoulder?

I struggle with this every day. Every day.
What are some of your thoughts out there? I welcome your views.

How would you write your memoir, if you were writing one?

message 2: by M.L. (new)

M.L. Bushman | 144 comments I killed the dreaded censor, and threatened the internal editor by doing so. How? I wrote the most graphic love scene I could. Took me three days, but when I was done, it was horribly overwritten, lots of swirling intimacies and descriptions that would make a street-walker blush, but then I was free to write whatever I desired. Why? Because I got past the dreaded censor, which is really your own morals in disguise.

No matter what you write--fiction, memoir, non-fiction--you have to set yourself free to write it. Especially for fiction, you cannot let your morals override what you know in your heart must go on the page. The same holds true for my memoirs, which I intend to write someday.

No limits. My internal editor has learned his place because of this experience years ago. The censor is dead. And when my muse is in the house, the internal editor is quiet.

This may not be your prescription, perhaps this is an individual fix, but it certainly worked for me.


message 3: by James (new)

James (signal20) | 41 comments Mod
I have no morals, so I am free to write whatever
I want ;-) .

message 4: by Christie (new)

Christie Silvers (christiesilvers) | 3 comments I think I killed my censor a long time ago. Sex is always in my books, and it's always HOT sex. ;-)

message 5: by G.R. (new)

G.R. (grcollia) It might seem like a small thing, but I killed my censor by using the word prostitute instead of courtesan. Most books about Japanese prints steer away from using the word prostitute when they refer to the subjects of the prints, but these women were in the sex industry... they were high class, but they were prostitutes all the same, so I threw the "p" word in there every now and then.

No sex scenes yet, but I'm still young ;-)

message 6: by Gina (new)

Gina (pindaregirl) | 1 comments i used to say the "w" word all the time, still do sometimes, but trying hard to stop...
Slang french for the same word is: micheton
but you find them in bars, pubs mainly...nothing to do with our dear geishas..

message 7: by J. (new)

J. Yandell (jbelindayandell) | 7 comments I have no problem with writing sex, maybe because I think the better the sex scenes, the better the chances I'll get a date.

But I do know exactly what you mean about fearing you'll hurt someone's feelings, or that someone will recognize themselves or someone else. Even writing fiction, my censor is always whispering in my ear. Mostly, I worry about family, and those occasions when I lift a personal memory, twist it a bit, and put it in a story.

I just finished a novel in which the characters are really very much like my own family. I did my best to ignore the censor, or to use it as a "yellow light" of sorts. When the censor started whispering and whining, I'd look long and hard at the scene or character and ask myself: "Can I push this farther from real life and real people in a way that will make it better fiction?" The answer is usually yes. So in that sense, my censor lets me know when I'm getting lazy.

(The good news about that book is that my mother read it, laughed a lot, and has not disowned me. I sidestepped issues with my sister and myself by splitting the two of us into three different characters. Sort of like plausible deniability.)

I know I have deliberately avoided father figures in my novels so far precisely because my relationship with my own father was so complicated. It sounds terrible, but now that it's been eight years since his death, I think I am now free enough -- and have gained enough perspective -- to tackle those emotions knowing that I can't hurt him even by accident.

On the other hand, people who have read my first published book often ask who the central character is based on. They don't seem to believe me when I tell them she's based on absolutely no one I know personally. She's certainly NOT me, or my mother, or even my grandmother. In that case I had no censor issues, because the characters grew completely out of the story line.

I can't imagine how I'd ever manage to write a memoir. Not because I can't write freely -- I can and have, in my blog, only to have my mother absolutely hit the roof over what seems harmless to me. ("How can you write that? Have you no pride? What if someone you know reads this?") I have no inner censor when it comes to my own life. Only the threat of physical violence from my mother.

God, I hope she doesn't read this. I'll get another phone call.

message 8: by Seth (new)

Seth (ninjaaaaaofwritingbooks) Dreaded Censor?

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