I spent the first twenty years of my adult life in the construction industry. There are few places where you'll hear the 'F' word used more frequently (outside of prison or old time sailing vessels, I'd presume). It was a noun, adjective, verb and every other part of a proper sentence structure whose name I have long since forgotten from my third grade English class. In time, it becomes second nature and seems like the other men won't 'hear' you unless your sentence sounds like this:
You f-king guys need to get that f-king sh-t picked up over there. That whole side of the job is f-ked. It looks like f-k.
|Everything might have been perfect that day were it not for the horrible wireless connection in the bush.|
"...all our words from loose using have lost their edge."
|Castro getting a contact rum buzz.|
"But I use them all the time," I insisted.
"That doesn't mean that I want to hear it, and I certainly don't care to read them. Take them out," she replied.
Unmoved, I referred to a quote from Hemingway himself, knowing that the words of the master would cause her to relent. Here is the quote that I used...
"I've tried to reduce profanity in The Sun Also Rises, but I reduced so much profanity... that I'm afraid not much could come out. Perhaps we will have to consider it simply a profane book and hope the next book will be less profane or perhaps more sacred."
Maybe, I argued...mine is a profane book as well, and the Gods have preordained it as such.
"Hmmmm," she seemed to consider my arguments. "No. Take them out."
Hemingway had to make similar concessions in his work...like when he was publishing The Green Hills of Africa in England...
"I took out 7 bloodies, one son of a bitch and 4 or five shits voluntarily to see what difference it would make, to please them..."
|Hemingway asking the locals for pocket change to feed the parking meter. Sadly, the little guy only has pennies.|
When some people suggested that my first book might be anti-Irish Catholic (hello, my name is Malone) because of how it portrayed the church in a 1900 community, the entire local congregation ran out to buy a copy, so they could read it and better condemn me. I'm still a little confused about it. I try at every turn to write books that everyone can read and enjoy. But, in the words of Henry Herbert Knibbs, "this lovely world is a hard old ball," and it's hard to write a compelling dramatic fiction without someone getting mad about something.
But that doesn't mean that you'd ought to say to hell with it and write for shock value either. Shock value is cheap. It doesn't last more than a second, whether in an idea or a storyline or a word. In fiction, the feeling is not from the sudden jolt of a thing, but the crescendo building up to the moment, or a malingering mood.
"My use of words which have been eliminated from writing but which persist in speech has nothing to do with the small boy chalking newly discovered words on fences...I always use them sparingly and never to give gratuitous shock."
Papa Hemingway wrote:
"Try and write straight English; never using slang (or expletives) except in dialogue and then only when unavoidable. Because all slang goes sour in a short time. I only use swear words, for example, that have lasted at least a thousand years for fear of getting stuff that will simply be timely and then go sour."
|Is it just me, or does he look like he's thinking about knocking that cat off the table?|
Thanks for reading!