Has Being Offended Become Cool?

by Renee Miller

 

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First, let’s talk about words. All the words. Swear words, slang, regular words that the masses have decided we’re not allowed to use anymore, and their replacements. All the fucking words, man. I love them. Even the tricky ones like cunt, whore, and yes, even retard. While some of these words bother me for personal reasons, I can’t hate any of them, because each one is full of history, emotion and POWER. I’m a writer. I will use whatever word gives what I’m writing the proper emotion, and this means using the words I might choose not to use in real life.

Why shouldn’t this offend you? You have the right to feel how you want to feel, but think twice before publicly shaming someone simply because their choice of words bothers you. When I use a word you find offensive, and you scold me or worse for using it, you are giving ME your power. You’re giving the word you hate power. The only person not getting any power is you.

I like profanity, as you all know, and I use it frequently. People are offended by this sometimes. I don’t really give a fuck, but sometimes their offense at my language offends me. I want to tell them to fuck off. Get off their stupid pedestal, and join the real world. Sometimes I do tell them that. Usually I don’t, because fuck them. Why can’t I love all the words, including the nasty, dirty, messy ones? It’s not just words, though. In the book world, even ideas, thoughts, themes, etc. offend people. One of my besties, Katrina Monroe, experienced a bit of backlash for her book, Sacrificial Lamb Cake, which is a brilliant, witty, fun read that I will always love. Yes, it’s blasphemous, but that much is clear if you read the damn cover blurb. Yet, she’s received negative reviews (alas, I can’t find any of them now, so maybe the Goodreads cleaning crew has passed through?) because someone either didn’t read the blurb, or did and decided to read the book anyway, and their wittle feelings were hurt.

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Why would someone who is uncomfortable with subjects such as lesbians and/or heavenly bodies who are anything but what the Bible describes, read a book that STATES the messiah is a lesbian RIGHT ON THE COVER? Is it not pretty likely you’re going to hate this book? It’s not just her either. Another author friend, who writes deliciously disgusting horror , has received a slew of negative reviews because of the nasty shit her characters think and do. It’s horror! What do you expect? Another author, whom you all know well, C.M. Saunders, received backlash because in his book, Sker House, a male character used the term “friend zone.” And I’ve had folks refuse to rate books, or knock stars from their ratings, because they don’t like the “rough language.” It’s offensive. Oh, muffin.

I’m not whining about it. If you feel like you can’t review my books or can’t say anything positive because you were so upset by content and/or language, then that’s how you feel. I’m just saying I think it’s ridiculous, because that’s how I feel.

By the way, this post is intentionally offensive to anyone who is easily offended, so if you’re one of those people, stop reading. Or keep reading if you need your “I’m a self-righteous douchebag” fix.

Personally, I find it astonishing that we are all still offended by what is essentially a bunch of letters. I am always shocked when someone gets bent out of shape over holiday greetings, celebrations, phrases, etc. Happy Mother’s Day to all you moms out there! Now I’ve pissed off anyone who hasn’t had a child, can’t have a child, has lost a child, or doesn’t want a child at all, as well as the ones who hate their mothers, or were abandoned by their moms, or lost their moms. Shit, it’s all so exhausting.

Merry Christmas pisses off people who don’t celebrate Christmas, but Happy Holidays pisses off the Christians. And for the love of God, don’t you ever use “Xmas”, you lazy, insensitive motherfucker. Happy Chocolate Bunny Day pisses off the folks who know Easter isn’t about candy and bunnies. Well, it is in my house, because I’m not a Christian. So, um, yeah. You can wish me a happy Easter or a Merry Christmas. I’ll say thanks, even if I’m not religious, because I appreciate that the greeting came from a good place. You’re not trying to oppress me or convert me, or whatever… are you? Oh, you crafty little bitch.

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I did start a list of everything that offends people these days, but it was way too long to put in a single post, because you jerks keep adding shit every damn day. I can’t keep up. I should add that some of the things I read/hear online bother me too, but I don’t call the moral police to have the guilty parties arrested and flogged, because who the fuck cares? They have the right to say what they want to say, and I have the right to not like it. I don’t have to be a drama queen about it, and I don’t think I’m helping anyone by telling them their words hurt me. In most cases, that was their goal all along, so why give them exactly what they want?

I’m not entirely sure why being offended is a fad, but I’m thinking part of it is that we have become addicted to that wonderful self-righteous glow that being offended leaves behind. I mean, how awesome does it feel to knock some cocky prick down a peg or three, because he uses a word or phrase that causes us discomfort or pain? I don’t care the context he used it in, or even if it was meant to be offensive or not, I am going to rip that fucker a new one. Yeah, that shit feels good.

But let’s think about this: When you CHOOSE to be offended by what someone writes online or in a book, or even by something they’ve said in real life, (and make no mistake, it’s a choice) you also CHOOSE to be a victim.

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Hmm. Not so cool now, eh?

Yes, yes, I know that some words are emotional triggers for people. But if we have to stop using words because it brings back an emotional trauma for this person or that, then I quit humaning. It’s over. Might as well quit writing too, because the whole point of it is to use words to affect people on an emotional level. If that’s no longer okay, then what’s the point?

I am sorry if you have shit in your past that hurts. I’m sorry if it more than hurts. It’s awful that you’ve had to endure any heartache or trauma at all. I wish this world was fair or at least kind to good people, but it’s not. It sucks, but when you try to make other people change to alleviate your pain, instead of finding a way to prevent that pain from consuming you, you’re choosing to stay in the role of victim and you’re giving power to the words you’re trying to make everyone else stop using. The more power a word has, the less likely it’ll go away.

Before anyone asks who the fuck am I to tell someone how to deal with trauma, let me add that I’ve been victimized too. I’ve wallowed in a pit of misery, fear and self-doubt, and I let the trauma rule my life for too long. When I stopped giving certain words and actions power, I was free of all that shit. The rest of the world didn’t hurt me, so why should they pay for something someone else did?

And I know that some people online use certain words in an intentionally negative manner. They try to hurt you on purpose but hey, you don’t have to be their victim. Don’t give power to their words by being offended. People are going to say what they want. They’re going to like what they like. How do their preferences, be it words or actions, affect you personally in your day-to-day life? In most situations, it doesn’t affect you at all, unless you want it to.

If you don’t like violence, don’t read horror, crime, suspense, or any genre that generally includes violence.

Don’t like swear words? Don’t use them. If you can’t handle other people using them, you should probably leave the Internet. Bye.

If you don’t like the idea of Satan being a good guy, or Mary being a crack whore, or the savior of mankind being gay, then don’t read books that explore those themes. Read the cover before you buy. Easy.

I know some of you are having trouble getting behind what I’m saying here. It’s okay, I know I’m rambly. I’ll just make it real simple by sharing what occurred to me as I thought about all of this:

Finding reasons to be offended is actually kind of offensive. So, in doing the thing you think is cool, you’ve become not cool.

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Plotting or Pantsing?

This is a debate every writing group from forever has had, but I think we can all agree neither is right or wrong. Both are acceptable ways of crafting a story and it really depends on how the author works best. We decided to discuss it anyway.

Steve: Pants it, then plot it! Plotting requires a beginning a middle and an end, and they all turn up eventually. Ideas are what require thought. I’m not a clever man, so my higher mind rarely steers the ship in creative endeavours. A lot of books use my characters to explore and articulate the dark suspicions of my gut, the worrying questions of my dreams and the reflexive chauvinism of my drunken snarling. As such, sometimes I don’t know what I’m trying to say until I’ve said it. Then I have to edit it before people find out how terrible I am. Maybe replace it with a joke. That’s what people paid for, after all.

Renee: I do both. Some of my stories require research, and for those, I tend to make at least a rough outline of what’s going to happen. Sometimes I outline characters only, so I guess that’s not really plotting. I pants most of my short fiction, and some of my best work has resulted from that. However, I also have a handful of “novels” that aren’t finished because I wrote myself into a corner I can’t get out of, thanks to a lack of planning before I started.

Liam: Pantsing all the way. Why would I put limitations on my writing? Besides, I’d lose interest if I knew how it ended…

Katrina: Both? I plot the major events and then pants my way through connecting them. Knowing too much of the story ahead of time stunts the growth of the narrative for me. I have to let my subconscious do the heavy lifting.

Christian: I fully understand why some people prefer to have a plan when they start writing something. They are probably more organised than me in every other aspect of their lives, too. Me, I start off with a vague idea, or even just a single scene, and then let the story tell itself. I always found that when I plotted too much in the past, I would end up feeling restricted. Half-way through a story you might have a great idea for a plot twist, but you’ll be reluctant to go with it because you think it’s going to fuck up your grand plan.

It often shows if a book has been meticulously plotted. Things can become very stilted and emotionless.

Michael: I write the first chapter blind with little idea. That for me is the kindling wood. If it takes off and I want to know more, then I make a ‘misty’ plan, stopping every now and again to make more ‘misty’ plans. Bit like water divining. The thing is, I like to write books I want to read, and if I were to over-plan I would, in a sense, have read it and so lose interest in actually writing it. The exception is nonfiction – for example, ‘Cheyney Behave’ and my new book on Anthony Trollope. But here the fun lies in the research.

Peter: Pantsing, largely. This was certainly the case with my first book, (the sequel required a little planning but still pulled me in unexpected directions). Aside from these, I have two collections of short stories, none of which were planned out in any depth. One of my current projects has been planned out in detail, but I’ve drifted away from the plan quite far so I’m not convinced much plotting can save me from myself and where the story ends up.

Where the M Comes From

By C.M. Saunders

 

I’ve been doing this for a while now, and you may have noticed I use different names for different kinds of writing. For academic writing and more formal or serious stuff, I use my full given name. It looks more official. For sport, lifestyle and comedy writing, I use the slightly snappier moniker Chris Saunders. And for fiction, I usually use the name C.M. Saunders. There are practical reasons for doing this. I like to keep different facets of my writing career separate because it’s easier to get my head around. Besides that, the people who read my horror fiction would probably be deeply disappointed if they accidentally picked up one of my travel books, or the one I wrote about Cardiff City FC, and vice versa.

Over the years, a lot of people have asked me why I use C.M. Saunders, especially since I don’t actually have a middle name, and so no middle initial. It’s kind of a happy coincidence that my boyhood nickname was Moony. Because I have a round face, apparently. I guess it could have been a lot worse. There was a boy in my street called Dickhead. Anyway, no. That’s not where the M comes from. It’s not as straightforward as that. But there is a very good reason for it and for the first time in public, I’m going to reveal what that reason is.

It’s for my grandfather on my mother’s side. Firstly, he’s probably part of the reason I grew up to be so into the whole horror thing. He was a big reader, and would go to the local library a couple of times a week. This was back when libraries had books. Whenever I went to visit him and my grandmother in his bungalow at the top of the village when I was a kid, he would always have the latest horror novels lying on the table next to his reading chair. I was too young to read them, or even remember much, I just loved looking at those covers. Stephen King, James Herbert, Graham Masterton.

A little word about my granddad, or Pop as we called him. His name was Stanley Martin. Like my other granddad on my father’s side, he was a coal miner almost all his life. Proper old school Welsh. Being a miner was a hard life. He would delight in telling me, my sister, and cousins horror stories. Some were things that really happened to him or his friends, some were local myths or legends, and he probably made the rest up just to entertain us. The man was covered in little blue scars where coal dust had got into his cuts when he was underground, and he was still coughing up black shit twenty years after he retired. He met and married a Welsh woman called Lillian and they had three daughters, including my mother. All three daughters grew up and got married. As per tradition, when they got married they took the names of their husbands so pretty soon, the Martin name vanished. I always thought that was a bit sad, and when I started taking fiction a bit more seriously and was looking around for a pseudonym to distinguish it from my journalism, I thought using the ‘M’ initial might be a cool way to keep the name ‘Martin’ alive. He died a long time ago, and when he did his surname died with him. Now, every time I have something published under the name C.M. Saunders, it’s a silent nod to the man who introduced me to horror. If there’s a heaven, I know he’s up there looking down with pride in his eyes. Cheers, Pops.

 

61yusXRXjwLX3, the third collection of fiction by C.M. Saunders featuring revised versions of stories taken from the pages of The Literary Hatchet, Siren’s Call, Morpheus Tales, Gore Magazine, Indie Writer’s Review and several anthologies, is available now. X3 also includes two previously unpublished stories, extensive notes, and exclusive artwork by the award-winning Greg Chapman. 

Meet the airline passenger who makes an alarming discovery, the boy who takes on an evil troll, an ageing couple facing the apocalypse, a jaded music hack on the trail of the Next Big Thing, the gambler taking one last spin, and many more.