Let’s take a trip back down memory lane. I was in grade six, so I figure we’re going all the way back to 1996. To Norman’s Cove Elementary. For whatever reason, someone had turned me on to the novels of Kevin Major.
For those of you who don’t know (and this is the Internet, so I’ll wager there’s a bunch of you), Kevin Major is likely the most acclaimed Newfoundland author. He is to Newfoundland what Stephen King is to Maine. Except that Major doesn’t make Newfoundland look like a place filled with drunken hicks and apathetic parents.
Anyway, his two most notable works are Blood Red Ocre and Hold Fast. While Ocre is more popular, it was a little above me at 11, so somebody gave me Hold Fast.
And I was blown away: they were cursing in this book!
Not long after my Principal, Mr. Osborne, came in. I was big into Spider-Man at the time so he always sounded evil to me, but he was a great guy. Anyway, he was doing some kind of lecture encouraging kids to read. There was a real push for reading in schools at the time. I guess there always is, but at this point they didn’t have “reading levels”. It was just read anything. Comics? Fine. Soup labels? Fine. Whatever you wanted to read, just so long as you did.
Which I happen to agree with, but I digress.
Anyway, I (being me) wasn’t sure if I “should” be reading a book with curse words in them, so I asked.
To his credit, Mr. Osborne responded by saying: “If you can read it then you’re mature enough. But if you’re running around the class going ‘Oh look! Swear words!’ Then you aren’t mature enough.”
A fellow student and I exchanged a look, because I had done that the day previous.
So that was my first introduction to the idea that one could curse in literature. And now it is my favorite thing to do ever. I pepper curse words all throughout my stuff, but never needlessly. I like to write to way people speak, and people curse. So my characters do as well. A lot.
I think maybe the point of this post is unclear, but this is mainly for young authors who maybe sensor themselves. Don’t. It’s just not worth it.
I remember my mother stumbling across an early draft of one of my books when I was 17 and just being horrified about the subject matter an the cursing. I think it was a flashback to a main character being molested. So while I understood her outrage, she failed to understand that that was the desired response. You should feel outraged. And that should make it all the better when the character gets over that. Or all the worse when they don’t. Either way.
Off topic again. Cursing where appropriate is good. Don’t let people stifle you. If you’re that kind of author you’re that kind of author. If you’re not you’re not. It’s just that simple.
Never Look Back, Motherf***ers 😉