As an author, there are many potholes, in fact, vast chasms that one must cross when putting their work on public display. One is self-worth. How does one wish to be remembered when they're gone? As an author, my reputation with the masses of readers who may come into contact with my writing means something to me. I could probably write some pretty wild erotica. Matter of fact, I had a whole short story written in my head the other day as I stood behind a smoking hot little thing in a checkout line at Walmart. There she stood clutching a set of watercolors...and nothing to paint on. She was the kind of woman you'd find on a rack at Dillard's. Me, Goodwill. But she was eye candy and I was fully aware that I had about as much of a chance of landing a date with her as I would Reba McEntire. My imagination spiraled out of control. But, no. Truthfully it is not the millions of folks I will never meet who keep me in check. It is that pitifully few that I know personally. My family, friends, and fellow church members. Oh, and pastors. I value my personal reputation too much to jeopardize it with those around me.
This is where an author takes on new challenges. Can I write a sultry love scene fit to be viewed by a pastor, a Sunday school teacher, or my child? Can I draw my reading audience into a moment of passion without using a single word unfit to be spoken in a church building? Can I as an author pit two characters head to head in a heated conversation, and portray that scene fitfully without using four-letter words? Yes, I can. And taking on a challenge of this magnitude makes me grow as an author.
In my last novel, 'Imperceptible: The Parables of Steele,' there are two very mild curse words in chapter one. Once you get past those, you'll not find another cringe-worthy word throughout the entire book. I'd bet the farm you'd never notice their absence. Yes, pretty proud of achieving that. Pat myself on the back.
So what are you as a person worth? Whether you're a writer like myself, or a singer, a teacher, a mentor, or a parent, do you jeopardize your reputation, do you de-value your self-worth, for the sake of 'shock and awe?' I find it a refreshing and rewarding challenge to take a high road. And let's face it...F-words lost their shock value long ago and there's nothing left to top 'Shades of Gray.' I cherish the challenge of taking a mere teaspoon of my personal imagination and turning it into a raging river flowing through your mind! An author worth his salt doesn't need much imagination. He just needs to figure out how to make the reader use theirs. Sometimes all you need is a beautiful woman, some watercolors, and a spoonful of imagination!