I am pissed off.
Admittedly, this is pretty much a default state for a Grim and it may be being exacerbated by a) having a headache and b) having gotten into a drawn-out and argumentative discussion with apologists for religion.
But I digress.
In this case I’m pissed off at myself.
I’ve written a couple of erotica pieces for submission to anthologies recently (I’m a word whore. I’ll write just about anything and hey, writing porn is good fun and gets the creative juices flowing in more ways than one).
This latest piece kind of ran away with itself and got into fetishes and things that I don’t have. When it comes to sex, and sorry if this is TMI, I prefer to be dominant, in control. The scene in the story played out entirely to the opposite. It just made more sense in the context but it isn’t what I, personally, ‘get off’ on.
I sat there looking at the manuscript and thought: ‘What are people who read this going to think of me?’
What a crock of shit. Why should I really care what anyone else thinks of me? What you write doesn’t necessarily say anything about you. Still, found myself worried and concerned and playing out the controversies and arguments from the last couple of years over, again, in my head.
There’s this creeping presumption in activist circles that you are what you make. There’s also a presumption that there’s some underlying ‘thing’ going on behind everything, almost like a conspiracy. Where in the ‘good old day’ an accusation of being ‘obscene’ or ‘ungodly’ would do the trick from the conservative side of the equation, these days an accusation of an ‘ism from the opposite side does the same trick.
Poor old Piers Anthony is presumed to be a paedophile and a would-be-rapist because quite a few of his books touch on these themes. I have been presumed to be sexist because some of my RPG works are satirical examinations of sexist presumptions. This keeps flaring up to the point where, potentially, genuine problems are being written off as just another storm in a teacup and ignored.
Why would I be concerned about the interpretation of my own work?
Two reasons, one valid, one not so valid.
1. I’m in the business of communication. If I fail to communicate my ideas then I’ve failed at that purpose. Even if the other person is a dick, stupid or whatever else their problem is, that’s damn hard to get past.
2. People ARE going to judge you on what you’ve produced, even though this is abject bullshit.
I want to write interesting things, I want to transgress. I want to write about things I know little or nothing about because I am interested in them and it prompts me to do research. I want to walk a mile in another man’s (or woman’s, or small furry creature from Alpha Centauri’s) shoe.
I can’t do that if I listen to these people.
I can’t transgress political, social, sexual or other bounds without it being presumed that I am advocating such.
You couldn’t write Lolita in this culture of hate and presumption.
You’re not supposed to write about native peoples, the opposite gender, races other than your own. Yet, at the same time, you’re supposed to be inclusive and welcoming. These are mutually exclusive goals.
I worry and I get pissed off. That’s who and what I am. So I can’t just write all this off and not worry about it at all. All I can do is try to work around and through it and recognise it for the unrealistic orthodoxy that it is.
That, and write what I want.
I am NOT responsible for what people read into it.
There’s a story about Isaac Asimov which seems pertinent…
He once sat in (in the back of a large lecture hall, so semi-anonymously) on a class where the topic of discussion was one of his own works. Afterward, he went up and introduced himself to the teacher, saying that he had found the teacher’s interpretation of the story interesting, though it really wasn’t what he had meant at all. The teacher’s response was “Just because you wrote it, what makes you think you have the slightest idea what it’s about?”
The photo at the start is taken from this article, which asks a very good question. What is our community, what are our standards? This lowest-common-denominator bullshit is killing creativity and free expression on what should be an open internet.