When an Author Offends


The bane of the author who wishes to make a living from his work is offending the reader.

Writers, by nature, are rogues, as in “rascal” or “playfully mischevious”. We’re opinionated. Why else would we write? We’re a bit arrogant, too. We believe our opinion matters. We believe a reader should take time to read us.

But even the gnarliest author is a humanitarian. We are trying to make a positive difference in our world. I have yet to see a series of books on “How To Fail at. . . .”  The expose is meant to uncover that which is loatheful, harmful, dishonest or dangerous. The topic may be uncomfortable, but it exposes truth in order to benefit the reader.

I write to entertain. That’s what I tell myself. Yet when I review the topics I cover here, the majority are meant to help someone else.

However, there are times when I offend, even as I am trying to help. When I offend someone, they disappear as a reader.

I want to be a commercial writer.

I have considered writing under a pen name and producing formula books that endear, uplift, encourage, but never offend. To do so would be telling a half truth. There is a rosy side to life, but it is one facet of a many sided existence.

When I am true to my nature, I can’t do that. If I ignored other sides of life, I couldn’t drag myself out of bed to face another day of intellectual boredom and artifice.

That leaves me with the reality of a writer. If I write about things that I deem important or sane, but which can be ugly or brutal, then I am going to offend. Period. End of story.

I may stay broke, but I jump out of bed every morning.

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6 responses »

  1. It is true that if you write with integrity, true to yourself, you will offend someone. The trick is to offend in the right way. It is equally true that the best kind of reader enjoys best the writing that stretches or challenges or dares them to think, and that is usually offensive, I suspect. I know what I write sometimes offends people but I also know that I couldn’t help it except by being untrue.
    In my longing to be something of a commercial success – I write only non-fiction and sometimes poetry so it is pretty unlikely – I have considered writing things I know would sell but which I would despise myself. It is a depressing choice, but it is better in the long run to be depressed and “unsuccessful” and content with it, than successful and ashamed of it. I had better quit writing this or I will drift into blathering, if I haven’t already…

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