My Dirty Mind
In retrospect, this is more about my dirty language and less about my dirty mind. But hell, I got you in the door, didn't I?
Firebird is my first published work. If you've never written professionally, I don't think you can understand. I mean, I've written blogs and papers and articles before, and people read them. People I don't even know. People who were looking for travel information, or writing tips.
And it never bothered me if I made a mistake. It didn't matter if there were a few typos, or if I offended the random passerby. That blog was mine, and it was there for me and for people like me. If someone hated it, he/she didn't have to finish reading it. It was cool.
To have people pay to read my work, well that's a horse of a different color. More than a horse. It's a fire-breathing dragon with a hangnail and a taste for human flesh. I mean, it physically hurts to think that someone feels like he/she wasted money on my book.
That being said, I've been getting really good reviews. And it warms my bitter young heart. People tell me who their favorite characters are, and I can gush over why they're right (and they're all right, because they're all my favorite characters). I can't even tell you how wonderful it is to say, "I'm an author" instead of, "I'm a writer." Why yes, you can read my work. It's not a theory, it's a reality, and I'm just glowing with pride.
But then, that pride comes at a price. And the price is the horror of realizing I've made a mistake.
Not a mistake with self-publishing. I don't think I'll ever regret taking that leap, if only to finally be able to share my stories. No, my mistake was my language.
I write adult Fantasy and SciFi. And that was what was in my head when I wrote Firebird last November for National Novel Writing Month. And anyone who knows me, knows that I swear. Perhaps more than I should, and not always in the best company. It never bothered me. Words are words, and even the most benign words can be hurtful if said in hate. It's the intention behind them that matters. Everything else is just ink and air.
Here's the problem with dropping the f-bomb 74 times in a novel (and yes, it was exactly 74). My book would be rated TV-14 if not for the swearing. Another first for me, as my other unpublished novels could make a grown elephant blush. But this one didn't evolve toward grotesque butchery or steamy nights. It was a different story. And if I hadn't sworn my ass off, it could be classified as Young Adult.
I didn't care, when I wrote it. I'll admit that I had my nose a bit in the air when I said that I wrote adult SciFi. And it bothered me that people were bothered by the swearing, because it wasn't any worse than a lot of the other SciFi and Grimdark Fantasy that I read. My book is plum mild in comparison, and I decided to shrug it off.
The eye-opener was when a girl came up to me at the Farmers' Market a few weeks ago. She had been looking at my book for a while, seemed absorbed by the posters and bookmarks. She was obviously curious, a little ensnared by the characters just by looking at the artwork, just like I remember being ensnared by similar books in the past. And when she asked me, while clutching a book to her chest, if it would be appropriate for a 14-year old, I felt my first pang of real, honest regret. I had to tell her no. And it ripped me up inside.
My mom would filter the books I read when I was younger, as I'm sure most kids' moms and dads do. And I remember the piercing disappointment of finding a book I really wanted to read and having it be for an older audience. Seriously, I think that was the first real tantrum I ever threw.
I remember being angry at the authors. Why would they put something stupid in a book that made it so I couldn't read it? What was the point?
Oh, how the tides have turned.
Beyond that, I want my book to inspire people. There are powerful female characters, characters that I wish I would have known when I was 14. They are scientists and pilots and engineers, writers and assassins, doctors and warriors. They are really cool, if I do say so myself, and there's no reason in the world why they shouldn't be there for everyone.
I've been dreading this blog. Because I'm admitting that I made a mistake. But here's the thing: I can fix it.
I'm not printing anymore fist editions. There were 74 of them (ironically, the same number as f-bombs in one book, so I think it was a little meant to be), and there won't be any more. If you got one, I hope it will be worth something in 10 years...because I'll obviously be famous and shit. And if you didn't, well, I've got a few left.
The point is, I'm doing a second edition. And I'm snipping the f-words. I'm being creative with it, and I think that it will make it a better book. And that is what I'm all about. Whatever I do, I will do it in the best way I can.
Especially when it starts with a mistake. All of the best stories do, after all.