The audio version of this post appears below. Just click on “play”.
I’m a pussy when it comes to writing. I really am. And, it gets worse with age. I like raw…like, exposed nerve, mind-boggling, “can’t believe it went there” kind of raw. Human character boiled right down to its component parts – darkness, fear, topics too weird to think about, explosive revelations about otherwise seemingly normal people that shock and make you really have to think and wonder how you could have been so wrong about them.
I love to read raw and I like to write raw. But, I hold back and would bet, hell, I know other writers do the same thing. I truly believe that there is a very small percentage of writing out there that really represents what goes on in the mind of the writer. I read so many books where I think to myself – man, this author could have gone so much deeper and I bet they didn’t for the very same reason I don’t – fear.
If only everyone could be like Bukowski – fearless. Bukowski was completely unaffected by the notion that people would find him to be nothing but a drunk, womanizing, sadistic bum. He didn’t care what people thought at all. I need to do that, but I’m far too afraid. Too much of a pussy.
My fear stems from the notion that you are a piece of every character you create and there are some pieces I don’t want my readers to know about, or that just don’t exist, that were born from my imagination, but that I worry people will think I have direct experience with. Here’s a for instance: hookers. I’ve never engaged a prostitute before and certainly never will. However, I do have experience with hookers through my former career as a private investigator. I worry that if I write a largely accurate portrayal of a scene with a hooker and bring my readers into that scene, then people like – oh, I don’t know, my mom, the mother of my children and everyone who knows me would think that I have been a participant in the oldest profession. Stupid, just stupid, I know it is, but I don’t want to have to explain myself every time I write something racy, off color – raw.
And, that’s just sad. I always have a couple of novels brewing and throughout the process I send passages to my trusted advisors Rose and Holli, whom I’ve mentioned in this blog before. For this one supernatural novel, I have a very graphic scene that takes place in Hell and involves a priest, a little girl and the Devil. The writing is probably some of the best I have ever done. And, when I passed it on to Holli & Rose with a very small exception – I think it was word placement or something, they thought it should stay in and not be changed. Guess what? That paragraph will only see the light of day after either me or mom is safely six feet under.
My intention with that scene is to put the reader directly in front of it and instill terror, repulsion and abject hatred. It scores on all of those points. But, my fear is that someone will read it and be like “damn, that JB Vincent is one fucked and twisted individual that he can come up with shit like that.” I realize Stephen King never had that problem and that’s why he’s so rich and famous. I feel like I have to filter my imagination so that when people see me walking down the street they don’t quickly walk to the other side. Or, friends and family will think: “how come we didn’t realize he was so mentally ill.” Unlike Bukowski, I actually do want people to like me somewhat, or at least not be repulsed.
So, what’s the solution? I honestly have no idea. Like I said, it’s getting worse with age – there are my kids to think about. I can just see them going through my things after I take off for the unknown. “Wow. Daddy was sure one weird dude.” Perhaps I just need some yoga, more absinthe and vodka, or maybe I need to lose the confines of my conservative being and just go for it. I’m going to have to keep you posted on this one.