This morning I began to read my printed manuscript aloud. I always read my blog posts aloud; it really helps to clarify my point and is a final check for typos, hidden spelling mistakes and homonyms. One thing I did not expect was to realise I wanted to re-write the entire first and second chapters.
A few days ago, I reworked the final chapter (it’s really an epilogue) and I removed a few sentences about the locks on bridges in Paris. Now for the record, I hate those damn locks and everything they stand for. And no, they don’t stand for love. They stand for the ugly side of mass tourism, and the unthinking uptake of damaging fads by millions of people who don’t stop long enough to think about the ramifications of their actions. (**Steps down from soap-box)
Anyway…there is a whole chapter that deals with the locks and my…er, my character’s opinions of said locks. I’ve been thinking I should remove it. I don’t want to offend potential readers. What is the line we draw in fiction? By leaving that section out I’m not adding to the mess, but I am missing an opportunity to educate people. Is it even my job to educate people? As a fiction writer, I don’t think it is. At least it’s not something for which I want to aim. I want to entertain people, to tell beautiful stories that make people feel… And I want to sell books!
Which brings me to this morning’s epiphany. I am re-writing the entire first 16 pages because while I love the storyline, I have realised that the subject matter may cause offence to some people and may upset others. It’s not about trigger warnings and call-out culture. My goal as a writer is to entertain people, not push an agenda. So while my personal opinions will always inform my subject matter, I feel the re-written passages will allow my work to be read by a wider audience, aka sell more books.
Perhaps I am ‘selling out’?
It’s funny, no one ever accuses a dentist of selling out, but we also don’t expect our dentists to give detailed opinions on society’s more controversial issues while fixing our teeth.
I would never write something that is not aligned with my values, but I think it serves us to look at our goals regularly. I am unashamedly working on my career as a fiction writer and that usually involves writing stories that people enjoy reading. This blog is for the deeper issues and I am more than happy to discuss any topic a reader would care to. I feel one of the major stumbling blocks to effective communication is that we have been dissuaded from having the big discussions. So few people know how to disagree without the conversation becoming heated especially on social media. This is a skill we all have to cultivate.
A bit later on…
And then I listen to the latest episode of one of my new fave podcasts and it’s called How to Show Up when the World is on Fire.