As a writer, I like to read. Quite a bit. I prefer reading to such mind sucking past times like watching television, YouTube videos, or DVDs. I do like to do those things but by far, reading will trump those for me every time.
One thing I notice that books do not have that other kind of media have is a rating system. Movies have them. Video games have them. Television shows have them. Hey, even comic books have them. But not a one for novels. I really wish that there was some rating system in place for novels because I have a low tolerance for profanity. Very low. So much so that I will get rid of a book for having it.
Case and point: I had just started reading A Talent for War by Jack McDevitt. The writing was good and I was beginning to enjoy it until characters began to use profanity. First time I was annoyed. The second time I was bothered. The third time I put the book down and changed what I was reading. This is within fourteen pages of reading. I’ll be liquidating that book from my collection.
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Why would I be that sensitive? Am I that much of a prude? I need to get with the program. This is 2015. I can hear the litany of other comments coming my way. The answer to those questions is “Yes.” And I am quite aware what year it is but I do not need to get with the program because I’m not down with that kind of program.
That’s one of the reasons I enjoyed The Hobbit so much. I didn’t have to worry about that at all. It was an enjoyable read and my mind didn’t have to be filled with words that are crude and offensive or used in that manner. Which is surprising to me because as writers, it would seem to me that with over 400,000 words in some dictionaries, we could at least use the ones that would show we’re assiduous and attempting to uplift our literature. Yet, as time progresses, our language has devolved not evolved. We use the excuse that writing in that fashion is more “realistic” or “cutting edge” when in fact, it’s just lazy writing on top of being an expression of a debased mindset.
You may think my demurring is a bit over the top. Judgmental maybe. It is. Think what you will. But one thing I will do is make sure that what I read is not only good in the writing sense but good in the language sense. The same thing goes for my writing. I have a responsibility to do that.
It’s old-fashioned. You may classify me as narrow-minded and straight-laced. It is what it is. So be it. But my convictions aren’t going to change any time soon. My mind is too precious to fill it with garbage. If that means I have to “miss out”, then I’m missing out. I’ll keep searching for those books that can entertain without egregious language and can get the same emotive feeling by the skillful use of words and dialogue. Elitist to a degree. I know. Sue me.
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