But I want to defend my friends and family. All the people I've mentioned, picked up my book because of my name on the cover. That's the only reason why they bought it. Some of them bought it outside their normal reading zone, and I am beyond thankful that the love me enough to know that this is important, and they put their cash down to support me. Then they actually read the book. That is true service for an author, and all we can ask of anyone.
My book made them feel uncomfortable. My book went beyond their line of comfort, and so when I asked what they thought of it, they weren't giving me a look of shame, I think they were giving me a look of "It made me uncomfortable, but I love you, and I don't know what to say."
These are amazing kind people. And I got my feelings hurt, and lashed out at them.
I'm truly, truly, sorry if I hurt anyone's feelings. Especially if these are people who had hurt feelings after showing me love.
I should have warned these people who I know well enough to know they'd feel uncomfortable, so that they'd have the choice to read it. I promise from this point onward, that I will be forthright and let people know exactly what's in my books before unleashing them on you.
Everyone has a line of decency. We can't cater to all lines, but we have to cater to our own. And then we have to be comfortable with the fact that someone out there, maybe even someone we love, and whose approval we crave, may not approve.
I'm not going to stop writing with honesty.
But I will accept all honesty back, with a loving and forgiving heart.
Thank you. To the people who didn't like the swearing in my book, but still like me anyway, thank you for your support. Whatever you feel comfortable giving, that's enough.
I've heard my mom swear before.
We were in our car, a few miliseconds before we slammed into the car in front of us. She had her hand over my shoulder to protect me, and a swear word popped out.
|I use bad words.|
I've heard my mother-in-law swear before. It was an accident. One of those times when you mean to say one word, but then accidentally say a different word. It was hilarious. Everyone in my husband's family was there, and we all busted out laughing.
We all swear. Some of us with more shame than others. I have to tell you, that I don't care if you swear. They're just words. A collection of syllables. My two year-old swears every time I tell him to sit. He's just trying to repeat my words, and I don't make a big deal out of it.
Yet somehow, the seven swear words in Alchemy are the only thing any of my friends or family can talk about.
Here's the conversation;
Beautiful family member: "I'm reading your book."
Me: "Oh, what do you think?"
Beautiful family member: The look of shame. "There's a lot of swearing."
Every time. That's the conversation. "I don't like the swearing." "I really had issue with this one word." "I liked it, but I can't let my teenagers read it because of all the swearing."
To be clear, there's not a lot of swearing. There's seven swear words in the entire 120,000 word book, and every one of those swear words can be found inside the bible.
I think it's the look of shame that accompany the words that hurts the most. It's the, "I really liked your book, but you should be embarrassed by those seven words. I'm embarrassed to know you."
I hear those words in the quick change of subject afterwords, or complete absence of subject. Even as I bring it up. Repeatedly.
Me: "Here's my soul and my spirit in book form. What do you think?"
Them: Look of shame. Empty silence that is so full of words. Words that sound like this: "I really liked it, but I can't share it with the teenagers who I know would like it, because someone should protect them from the horrors of minor swearing...because the teenagers I know NEVER swear. Or even if they do, I want them to know that it's not okay, that the words they say aren't okay, and they need to pretend, like I do, that they are perfect person. Otherwise there's no way they'll ever
Oh yes, maybe this is important. I didn't swear in the book.
Maybe it's the fact that I was the only one of us who DIDN'T swear, so people feel safe to judge or criticize these girls who've become the other half of my brain.
Or maybe this is just me. Maybe it's just my corner of this world. Sabrina and Melanie have not seen or heard the look of shame. Maybe it's the soul crushing need for perfection, and to have someone they know admit imperfection in print reflects on them, and that isn't fair. Books last forever. My children are going to read this. One day they might be ashamed of the words I didn't write.
|A real book|
It's in the fact that Orson Scott Card, Stephenie Meyer, and Anita Stansfield, have all sworn inside their books, but because these Mormon writers were successful, it's okay. While our tiny book hasn't exploded yet, (wait for it) so it's fine to criticize me to my face about my lack of morals, and how I don't live up to my Mormon standards. It's about how if enough people like something, then the rules change, because the standard of morality isn't based on what's good or what's bad, but on what people think. And people... I mean, People, have decided that these few arrangement of letters and sounds, are shameful. You know, unless enough people like it. Then it's fine.
If you are one of the people who don't like the swearing in Alchemy, please know that I respect you. Thank you so much for reading our book, and for supporting me. I probably should have warned you, and I'm sorry I didn't.
We're only human. Please be my friend, close the door, and smile. Pretend you didn't hear anything, the way you'd want me to if I'd walked by your house on an off day. See who I am beyond seven words.
Everyone swears. Some with more shame than others.
Books should be a place where you can be real without shame. Books can be a place for the imperfect, the interesting, and the inspiring. Books can give a voice to those who don't have one, and sometimes, those voices swear. Especially on an off day.
Books are about off days.
If you agree with any of my comments, please check out the book.
Alchemy is 99 cents right now, and if enough people support the 119, 993 words that aren't swear words, then you can help me silence the shame of those seven words I didn't write. If enough people like it, then it'll be okay for the people who love me to support me.
I want to know what you think. Why is swearing more easily criticized, then kissing, violence, or murder?
Sheena Boekweg is the author of Funny Tragic Crazy Magic (which doesn't have any swear words in it) and the coauthor of Alchemy (which does).
* ginger ale in a wineglass