Friday, July 6, 2012

A Ethical Quandary Of My Own Choosing

This post is a bit unusual, in that it'll be a part writing update and part ethical quandary.

First, the writing update: I've been doing a speed edit of my revamped novella A Shadow Warrior's Redemption and I'm about two thirds of the way down. I say "speed edit" because I thought that since I was seventh in line to be assigned an editor, I would have the time to do both what was asked of me last week (bio/dedication/acknowledgment/blurb) and get a leisurely round of editing in at the same time.

However, there is no such luck as in a continuing run of good news, I was actually assigned an editor last week. I figured I got about two week window or so to play with before having to get down to the pulling-my-hair-out-with-tweezers editing job on Line 21. Thus, we are speed editing.

Now at the same time we're speed editing the novella, I somehow managed to latch onto a seed of idea for a new short story last weekend while I was busy doing my morning toiletries. This is where the ethical quandary comes into play.

For those who were around here last year, in mid-October I wrote about what I thought was the increasing amount of depravity being passed off as crime fiction. I had a rather lively discussion on my blog with two crime fiction writers, Sue H and David Barber, about the overall state of crime fiction. Respect and civility was observed and afterwards, we continued to be the best of acquaintances.

So like I said, this past Sunday I latched onto a seed of an idea for a new story, and before I had to leave for grocery shopping, I got about a page and a half written in about a half hour or so. The quandary is this: The story itself is exactly what I'd railed about back in October. Extremely violent, wickedly nasty and very disturbing. And yes, before you ask, I intend to see this story all the way to the bitter end. I have no other choice, since this story is fast becoming like a few others of mine, in that even though I haven't written another word yet, I'm still mentally outlining the entire story.

As you can see, I found myself hip deep in an ethical quandary: I railed against this exact kind of story and yet, here I am writing this exact kind of story. So naturally, I posted the question on my Facebook page, and I got a response from David Barber about it. We had a pleasant little conversation about it, but afterwards, I still found myself with the same quandary.

How do I reconcile the fact that I'm writing a story in the same vein that I railed about nine months ago, and still feel strongly about to this day, without making myself look like a complete hypocrite? Is there a way to do that without looking like I'm waffling?

This quandary is really doing a number on my head as the minute I get around to reopening the document, the guilt trip that I was getting while writing this will start back up again.

Sometimes, it really does suck to be a writer, because you're damned if you do (write a good story in a genre that you don't like certain aspects of) and damned if you don't (give up on a good story because it's in a genre that you don't like certian aspects of).


  1. Congrats on the editing. That's exciting!

    I say write your story and then see where it goes. You are under no obligation to put it out in the world, if you choose not to.

  2. I have a friend who is a crime fiction writer - Karin Slaughter. A mild mannered woman with a wicked sense of humor. Some of her books are astoundingly violent to me and I always wonder how that came out of her. I think in some way it's what makes crime fiction attractive to readers.

  3. You know that old saying about not judging people before you've walked a mile in their shoes? Sounds like your new story is walking that mile. At the end of it, perhaps your opinion of such stories will change -- or be confirmed. And don't worry about looking like a hypocrite. Everybody in the whole friggin' world is a hypocrite at some point or another. Acknowledge it and move on! That's my input. And you know what they say about free advice -- it's worth every penny!

  4. If you never changed your mind, you wouldn't be as interesting ;)

    I am sure your story will be much higher quality than the stories you were despairing of.

  5. Jewel: Thanks. It's been a long strange journey to publication, and I've been quite enjoying the ride.

    This is very true, I am under no obligation to put it out in the world. I am definitely seeing this story to very the end, but it still bugs the crap out of me just the same.

    Lynn: A very valid point. Sometimes it really is hard to reconcile a friend as a person with the friend as a writer. I experience that problem to a small degree myself, with people having a slightly difficult time reconciling me as a person versus me as a writer.

    Debra: I understand that point about hypocricy, but my problem is all that I have going for me is my word and my principles, such as they are. Which is why it bugs me to be in this quandary to being with.

    Don't get me wrong, I have read crime fiction and there is some that I do like. It's that small slice that I don't and the problem is the story is in that small slice.

    And I appreciate the free advice. If I didn't, I wouldn't be where I am today. :D

    R: I would like to think it would be, but at this point, it will be interesting to see how and where it goes.

    The other issue that bothers me, is that the words/descriptions/scenes are flowing way too easy from my head.

  6. Hum, I think that's the way writers' minds work. WE can't help but riff of of ideas, even if they are not ideas we particularly like. That's probably one reason I don't tend to criticize other's choice of topics, I might find myself wanting to do one of those myself. You can always just explain with a blog post just like this one. I don't think anyone would be upset with you for that.

  7. If YOU like it, go with it. If you don't like it, don't go with it. It is my understanding that the first person you should please with your writing is yourself.

  8. Charles: I would have to agree with you about the way writer's minds work. Usually when I'm thinking about things, more often than not, it will sometimes jell into something a little more concrete.

    I believe the post from last year was the only time that I'd actually criticized someone's choice of topic for writing. Usually if I don't like, I either don't read and/or don't write.

    I'm very good (too good sometimes) at explaining myself, but I hate having to explain the "do as I say, not do as I do" whenever I happen to be involved in a conundrum like this.

    Granny Annie: That's just it. I do like it and I plan on going with it. I just hate doing something that I had previously ranted and voiced my opinion about.


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