For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
A Guest Blog
Kevin Lynn Helmick
Hello one and all. I’ll spare the introductions because my name is plastered right up there, but thank you Donna for having me stop by. I won’t waste very much of you’re time, I promise, but there is something I’d like to talk about before I get to the shameless self promotion part of guest blogging. I won’t spend a lot time with that either because you’ll be able to find it all in the links and thumbnails provided.
Are ya with me? Will ya hang for a sec? Ok.
I’m a writer, of the slice of life, literary, thriller, action, drama, suspense, fiction kind. I know, I know, pick a genre, right? Well I don’t pick-em, they pick me. But it’s recently been brought to my attention (not that it needed to be) that there’s a lot of swearing going on with my characters, and not just in moments of climactic tension. Some of these folks walk around swearing like drunkin sailors for no apparent reason at all. “It’s their language, their culture,” I say. The kind of people I’m familiar with. The kind of people I write about.
I write about people: their struggles, problems, their awareness’ and awakenings. They pick on corporate religion, political correctness, and liberal and conservative agendas. Some of them abuse drugs, alcohol and so on.
And to my defense, all I have to say is, “yeah well, that’s the way they talk.”
Profanity doesn’t seem to have the same impact from film or television as it does in print. For some reason the f-bomb is more shocking in print, than it is every ten seconds coming from your favorite movie star. Not that, that’s why my characters use it: I’m not trying to shock, or justify, in fact, for the most part, on a first draft, I’m mostly unaware of it.
So whudya do?
I’ve grew up, small town, lower middle class, (no-a little lower than that, thank you) two bedroom house on the wrong side of the tracks, (if there were tracks) with four older brothers: fighting and cussing, busting holes in the walls over maybe a back seat romp in a 57 Chevy with the others girlfriend, or the borrowing of a Triumph Bonneville without permission, son of truck driver, and passive mother (god bless her, she tried.) And twenty five of those years later I spent on framing (rough carpenter) crews all over the country. So I’ve heard it all, and not even Henry Miller can make me blush and yes I am educated enough and intelligent enough to behave accordingly in public. I clean up pretty good, if I do say so myself.
Anyway, if you made it this far, you’re wondering if there’s a point to my ramblings. Well there is. I have a question; does it bother you when the characters of a book you’re reading swear pointlessly, casually in their dialogue? If so, how much does it bother you, and does it depend on the writer, the character, the setting? I mean Nabokov wrote one the best, and of the most controversial subjects of all time, without a single profanity. But Humbert Humbert was an educated European and poet, His thoughts and action were filthy, (for most readers) but his language was not. And Henry Miller, the Tropic books, dang . Bukowski, geesh. Even Stephen King gets a little rough sometimes.
I guess what bothers me is more on personal level. When my first editor, first reader, (wife) say’s “You’ve got to tone this down, this will offend people. You’ll never be a mainstream writer with language like this. You can’t use that word, it’ll piss people off.” My first thought is, I don’t care, I can’t please everybody. This is what I have, this is it. But that’s the rebellious artist in me, (he gets me in trouble sometimes) and I really do want to please, especially my wife, who tolerates and assist in these time consuming, fruitless, creative endeavors. I mean for the amount of time I put into it, she expects that…well she expects I just crank out The Notebook, just like that, and we all go live on a beach somewhere. I liked The Notebook, but that’s probably not gonna happen.
Not all the characters swear, just the ones that most likely would and hopefully the story is engaging enough, realistic enough, that it can be overlooked or at least seen, that they talk the way they do for a reason.
I’d like to know your thoughts; is swearing and politically incorrect references a deal breaker for you, for the publishing industry and the writer?
Now I know-different kinds of people, readers or writers, have different taste. So whatever your opinion, it’s probably no going to change mine. But I’m curious for you readers, do you throw in the towel at the first four lettered word? And you writers, do sensor for the more sensitive folks. Do you worry about what Mom or Aunt Libby might think, or do let it fly, tell like it is.
I know my philosophy. What’s yours?
I’m gonna leave you now with a small taste of something I’m in the final stages of now, currently titled For The River And Sky, pg 41 chapter 6, of 60.000 wrds. It should be ready for submissions in a month or two. And thanks again Donna, and thanks to you guys that have dropped in.
He pushed the tiny trees aside and stepped carefully down a snow covered hill. The cold wind stung his cheeks. He tightened his grip on the shotgun and slid just a couple feet to the bank of a creek in the valley. He saw a structure high on the next hill and stopped: probably three, three and half miles from anything or anybody, he figured.
Hunting season would be over soon and there would be a couple of months of nothing before shed hunters would start combing these woods, and the spring rains would wash the arrowheads from their ancient graves into the creeks. More trespassers, traffic. He walked to the top of the ridge and reached the remnants of an abandoned farm. A stone chimney stood stubborn and straight not to far off in the distance covered in dead vines. It had become one with the earth. Barely distinguishable but his eyes were keen.
He ignored the big doors hanging open and slipped through a space on the side where wood was missing. A murder of crows took flight from the rafters and circled the loft and disappeared one by one out the broken louvers of the copula above. Sunlight fluttered in the panic of their black wings as he watched and waited till the last one escaped.
He leaned the gun against a stall door and stepped to the center of the barn and crouched. He pulled off his glove and grasps the dirt floor. It was cold and hard as concrete and he took note in his mind. He stood, picked up the shotgun and walked carefully and quietly into one of the stalls where the soil was softer. Decades of decomposed excrement and straw had left a bed, a suitable bed. He sat on an old milking stool in the corner of the stall and stretched his legs, laid the gun across his lap and lit a cigarette. This would be the place, and he imagined the scene taking place and the various movements as they would be, as they had to be.
Some of my other titles, can be found, with full descriptions, reviews, and my bio at my Amazon authors page, http://www.amazon.com/Kevin-LynnHelmick/e/B003IR7PU0/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1
Thanks again, hope to hear from ya.