For someone who is still finding their way within the literary industry I get an unusually large number of people who email through asking for advice on how to make their own websites more successful. It’s a weird concept to me, especially considering that in the grand scheme of things I have a fairly small about of followers here at Renegade Press. Don’t get me wrong; I’m flattered that someone would ever consider reaching out for advice. I just think that there are probably a few hundred thousand minds that are trust worthier than mine to seek assistance from. Nevertheless whenever such an email arrives I try to find the time to read through a few posts and provide what little constructive feedback that I can to an author not too dissimilar from myself.
While some excerpts require a little more structure or clarity of thoughts, most posts that I read are great. In fact some make me a little worried about my future. I’m still trying to establish myself as a writer and yet the people who are asking me for advice are already out producing me. Not that that is a bad thing; I’m an arrogant piece of work who wants to be the best. I revel in the fact that there are still a myriad of authors ahead of me. It keeps me hungry and pushes me to create bigger and bolder pieces. But for all of the positivity and acclimations I bestow upon these bloggers there’s one reoccurring issue that I tend to point out in the works of others, as well as myself…
We writers like to believe that we have this insanely broad vocabulary that we can call upon at a moments notice to create poignant and emotive prose. Yet more often than not we resort to vulgarity to drive home a point. We create pieces that butcher the language we love by using lowbrow phrases like fucking hate rather that loathe or abhor. Or we use terrible clichéd expressions like fuck you to allow our reader to understand our angst and frustrations. While it can feel good to write such unrefined prose, it is ultimately lazy and tends to alienate your reader.
-Actually let’s stop for a second because that one is a real pet peeve of mine. Simply writing fuck you is never clever, nor witty, nor anything else. It’s hands down the laziest expression one can use to display angst. No writer anywhere should use such overused, tired, pathetic excuse of a statement. It cheapens what you are trying to accomplish and makes you look like a second rate hack. Got it? Good. Let’s continue…
There are many pitfalls to writing and there are so many factors that can influence the work you produce. Your mood; the music you listen to, films you watch, people you associate with, books you read, exercise, exposure to media, and just about anything else has the power to alter how you approach your work. There’s no exact science to what we do, and the effects that our circumstances have on our craft can range from inspiring creative outpourings during which you produce an endless stream of high quality work, to writer’s block; the dreaded emotional ailment that sees you unable to even form a coherent paragraph. But perhaps the most troubling condition that can befall a writer (young or old) is writer’s laze.
It’s this state of creative complacency that sees potentially great pieces become disjointed postings that just miss the mark they’re intending to strike. More often than not the manifestation of this laze is witnessed through a writer reverting to profanity.
But Chris, you swear all the time…
Yeah I do. And in the interest of complete disclosure it must be said that my excessive use of profanity has become a point of contention with some of my readership. For every email I receive asking for a critique there’s another saying a reader disagrees with my liberal tongue. But in spite of vulgarity’s ability to destroy prose or an argument, in some instances cussing has the ability to further a manuscript or blog post. However achieving such an outcome requires talent. It needs to be used sparingly and needs to be inserted into a piece of work with the utmost precision if it is to further the intrigue or emotional engagement of the reader. It’s lazy to rely on cussing to drive passion into a piece, however it’s extremely wondrous to read the work of an author with a deft mind who can utilize a word like fuck to create a level of heightened understanding within their readership.
For someone who swears as much as I do it can be easy to slip into a perpetual case of writer’s laze. It’s easy to show emotion through profanity, but it’s so much more engaging when a writer produces clean and concise literature that blindsides the reader or creates an emotional outpouring without tramping out the same busted up profanes being uttered in school yards. In some respects it’s a writer’s ability to detach themselves from their writer’s laze and reliance on cussing that separates an amateur from the very best. Profundity can be found in the most structurally fragile piece of work; readerships can be established upon the scaffolding of semi-coherent ideas. But the alienation of a reader through an over abundance of swearing can take a masterpiece and turn it into just another piece of shit.