Monday, October 10, 2011

Grounded

I'm in big trouble.  My mom is dying to read my forthcoming novel.  She is dying to show it to people.  However, she did have a question. She wanted to know if there was anything "vulgar" in the book.  (That's classic Mom..."Kathy, don't be vulgar!"  She is one of the few people who can be forgiven for calling me Kathy.)

It's probably better that she asked this up front.  I had sent her a copy of an anthology I helped put together, and there were some stories in there with foul language.  She went to give it to a teacher friend of hers and at the last minute, withdrew the offer. I told her my novel is probably not something she wants to bring to school.

"Kathy, why do you write books like that?" she asked on the phone. "Why can't you write nice books?"

"Mom, it's about people who live on the streets," I said.  "It has to be realistic."

Okay, the street thing isn't exactly accurate because the foul language doesn't really come from street people.  And the sex scenes don't involve "people of the streets" either.  But the novel is gritty.  The lives these people lead aren't pretty.  There's a lot of poverty, crime and abuse.  It's mainly about predatory lenders and bad relationships.  And I don't believe in sugar coating.

So Mom asked if the book would be rated X. I told her no, it would be more like R.  In my writers' group, my editor friend agreed that the R rating would be accurate.  A member of our group looked at me and said, "YOU wrote an R rated novel?"  I guess he thought I had been aiming to be the Virgin Mary or something.  Anyway, he writes some pretty randy stuff himself, so he will probably buy the book--or at least I hope he will.

I'm too old to be grounded, which is good.  But I have another problem. I want to use the book to raise money for homeless shelters, food pantries and other services for the poor.  Thing is, many of these places are pretty Christian and might not appreciate realism.  Therefore, they might not want this book associated with their cause.  Since I'm not always a tactful person, I am not sure how to approach this when the time comes.

Of course, when I do readings, I certainly won't choose the "bad" parts because I would be too embarrassed anyway.  I have a partially rotten mind and sometimes a bad mouth, but even I am not about to read a sex scene in front of a group of people.  I haven't even read those parts to my writers' group.  The wonderful lady who edited my book is probably the only one who has read the thing through.  She called those parts "shocking," an adjective I would not have used until I went through and edited the whole thing again this past weekend.  She's right. 

I guess I better figure this out because my next novel will be even worse than this one, smut wise, not because I want to write smut, but because my characters are not ready to be nominated for sainthood.  Then again, neither am I.
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