Lazy criticism

Lazy writing or lazy criticism?

Lazy writing or lazy criticism?

I’m not going to win many friends with this post because I am about to stick up for the use of profanity in writing.  My alter ego, C. Hoyt Caldwell, is sometimes penalized by readers and reviewers because of the use of vulgar language and situations.  I don’t fault them for their opinions.  They like what they like.  My beef isn’t with them.  It’s with writers telling other writers that the use of vulgarity is lazy writing. That’s bullshit.

This subject came up in a discussion on Facebook with a group of playwrights.  A question about the use of profanity was posted by a member, and a myriad of responses came in.  Most of them were of the “Do what you think is right as the artist” variety.  But a few playwrights condemned the use of foul language as a sign that a writer lacks the creative talent to convey an emotion without using profanity as a “crutch.” To which I say, fuck off.

Writers that condemn profanity as lazy writing are being either intentionally dishonest or unwittingly didactic. In other words, they aren’t judging the creative merit of such words, they are judging the moral value of such words.  They are uncomfortable with foul language and vulgarity, so they’ve convinced themselves that it takes true talent to write without the use of the profane.  They are wrong.  As writers, we record moments that exist on an ethereal plane. This realm is imaginary, but it is a self-directed imagination. Characters make choices free of the writer’s moral compass.  It’s hard to comprehend if you’ve never gotten lost in the creative process, but writing fiction, in its most profound form, is undeniably otherworldly.  And, that other world is outside of the writer’s influence.

Understand, I’m not condemning writers who don’t use profanity.  These realms we visit tend to be ones where we will feel welcome.  Some writers just won’t find themselves recording obscenities of any type because their imagination doesn’t go there.  If the story doesn’t call for vulgarity on any level, don’t wedge it in artificially.  But, as a writer if the story calls for it and you avoid it because you’re afraid of how it will be perceived or it is outside of your comfort zone, that is running from the creative process. It’s a cowardly move, and the story should die the milquetoast death it deserves.

Writers, stop asking for permission to use profanity.  Be true to the story as it is revealed to you.  This doesn’t mean I think rewrites are unnecessary.  On the contrary, I think they are essential to tapping into the deepest parts of these otherworldly realms.  The more you visit this ethereal plane, the more you understand it, and the better you make the story through rewrites.

Writers who abhor profanity, stop denying vulgarity has a place in literature or the theater or in film.  Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it’s not valid. It’s not your place to tell other writers they are being lazy because they use profanity.  To be perfectly honest, that’s just lazy criticism.

Booktacts – The future of books

Booktacts - The book you can wear!

Booktacts - The book you can wear!

As an author and son of an ophthalmologist, I have been tinkering with a new invention in my basement that will revolutionize books, the booktacts. Basically, they are contacts fitted with wireless hyper radio wideband receivers that display text in ocular space. Yes, you read right, books you can wear. The booktacts can download any pdf or pcr file from any website. What’s more, you can control download functions and simple commands like highlighting and “send to printer” with a series of simple blink commands. I am coding them so they won’t download any Stephenie Meyer’s books because honestly, I am super jealous of her and really don’t want to give her access to another bestseller list.

In addition to being high tech, environmentally friendly, fabulously avant-garde readers, they are totally fashionable. They come in a variety of colors and can even be designed with team logos, obnoxious inspirational quotes, and slogans like “If you’re reading this, you’re way too close to my face.” I’m even working on mood booktacts. They change color depending on your mood while reading. Reading horror? They turn blood red. Reading a finance book? They turn money green. Reading erotica? They grow six inches.

I am not a scientist or a computer guy or an engineering-type person, and I don’t even have a basement, so the development stage has been really slow going, but I have tested a few prototypes on rats, and let’s just say, except for the blindness and brain damage, they work perfectly. I expect to start testing on humans as soon as I buy some duct tape and ether…. I mean as soon as my grant money comes in so I can pay a few test suckers…. subjects.

BTW – Tim O’Reilly claims to have come up with a revolutionary idea that will change books. You can read his article, Reinventing the Book in the Age of the Web, but it isn’t even close to being as cool as the Booktacts.

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