Friday, January 30, 2009

Fun with Censorship

I was going through some old boxes and found file folders full of work I’d done for classes in college. I didn’t even realize I’d saved some of it. Have you ever looked back at work you did years before? It’s a little scare, actually. I was reading through one paper for my Fiction Writers and Censorship Course, and it wasn’t as bad as I feared my early twenty something self to be – I still wanted to edit the hell out of it, though. I was heavy handed in a lot of places, to the point of pompousness. Then I’d alternate back to a more conversational voice and occasionally throw in some sarcasm. There are still glimmers of my voice that I recognize as mine. Well, it’s odd – you don’t realize how much you’ve changed until you look back at where you were.

Anyway, most of the stuff I’ve got is rather long – 10 to 12 pages at least, and far too long to put on a blog for your amusement. But I did find this little ditty that I thought might amuse some of my writer friends. It’s a list I did for the aforementioned Censorship class:

Marginalization :

Twenty things that can marginalize a writer’s work:

1. Fear of the unknown.
2. Fear of the known.
3. Fear of the empty page.
4. Fear of the written word.
5. Financial deprivation.
6. Social unencouragement.
7. Loss of creativity.
8. Loss of sanity.
9. My mate is in the way.
10. Too busy looking for a mate.
11. My life is uninspiring.
12. Fear of slander suits.
13. Fear of the politically correct.
14. Fear of the politically incorrect.
15. What would mommy say?
16. I have problems with graphic violence (so the masochistic barnyard scene is put on hold until my real life broken appendages heal amply enough to allow proper typing progress).
17. My self-censor is on vacation, but my publisher is not.
18. Did I mention that my editor was a formidable executioner in several past lives?
19. The world is a dismal abyss which cannot be altered by the written word (my anti-depressant dosage is much too weak)
20. I’ll procrastinate tomorrow.

How about you guys? Have you ever pulled out old work from when you first began? Were you pleasantly surprised or did you find it completely cringe-worthy? And what makes your list of things that stall your writing?


Realmcovet said...

Love it!

I don't know what it is, but I have a fascination for people's past writing skills. It's like a magic time warp into that person's life, being to see what they saw then, feel what they felt. I like the list!

All my stuff both surprises me and induces the cringe factor.

I can definately relate to EVERYTHING you put on that list. Pretty spot on man!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Realm,

You know, that was a light one... I'm amazed at how dark and sarcastic I really was.... okay, I'm still a bit sarcastic, but I was above and beyond then!

It is a nice reality check, though. Some of it's embarrassing, but mostly you know you've grown - skill wise.

Merry Monteleone said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shelly said...

I've found some things from the long-ago past, and always am both surprised and embarrassed (in a cringing way) by it. I realize when I look back that I did have the ability to write even when quite young, though my ideas were not yet very developed. It is usually the ideas that are cringe-worthy, rather than the writing (though that's not true across the board). I've actually reused some sections of my research papers (less creative work) in classes I've taught many years later, with only minimal editing. I'm glad, when I think of it, that my high school teachers were so picky about documenting sources. That habit stuck with me, and it has made reusing material at a much later date easier than it would have been otherwise.

Honestly, though, I cringe at writing that I did just a few months ago when I dig it out and look at it again. I think I am just put together in such a way that I will always cringe when my old self (even from the recent past) pops in for a visit.

Josephine Damian said...

Beyond cringe-worthy!

21. Playing online chess.

Family Fun & Faith said...

Pompousness? Who would have thought that was possible?

Maybe none is more pompous than the guy who believes he is always right and has always been right. Does that sound like anyone you know"

laughingwolf said...

too many to get into, but include most of yours, merry....

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Shelly,

I don't know with me if it was the ideas (certainly, sometimes) or the writing itself. What I find most cringe-worthy in my own work, tends to be when I'm writing outside of the audience. I had a habit, that I hope I've largely grown out of, of writing around in circles with an overlarge vocabulary... some of it sounded impressive, some of it just sounded like I was trying to be impressive. I've learned with writing, especially fiction writing but any form really - you're trying to communicate, on a real level. There's a time and a place for larger vocabularies, but often the simplest is the most concise. That's what I mean by pompousness... In a large sense, I was trying to convince the audience that I was intelligent rather than trying to communicate the ideas.

Hi FF&F,

I'm not sure how to read that... was it sarcasm or serious?

Maybe none is more pompous than the guy who believes he is always right and has always been right. Does that sound like anyone you know

WAs that about you? If it was, the only time this has fit the bill for you that I've seen is on matters of faith - and my friend, that is not pompousness, it's conviction. It's a thing to be cherished and held in esteem.

Hi Josie,

Me, too... My littlest guy looooves chess. I can't believe it. The other two don't really care either way, he has to beg them to play with him and he wins, even against the oldest. He's six and she's eleven... My mother's in her glory about it - she loves that game. I think she's hoping for a Bobby Fischer.

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Laughingwolf,

There are a lot of things that can keep you from it - I think the trick is figuring out which ones bother you most and overcoming them.

Thanks for the visit!

Ello said...

old writing = cringeworthy

nuff said!

Angela Williams Duea said...

Excellent list! I'm going to have to think on these ideas.

Yes, sometimes I cringe, but there are magical times when I read something and think, I wrote this? I really like it!

Merry Monteleone said...

Hi Ello,

As someone who's read your work... I soooo can't see cringe-worthy.

How are revisions going?

Hi Angela!!!

How have you been? I have done that, too, looked at old work and been impressed that it was so much better than I'd thought... but mostly I cringe :-)

Colleen_Katana said...

Oh my God, I have a TON of cringe-worthy past work. Some of my opinions back then are just so...immature. I think that's the best way I can describe it. I look back and I'm all: Who IS this chick who feels the need to use vocabulary words that simply scream, "LOOK! I can use the Shift F7 Key! I'm a walking thesaurus!!!" Ugh...hopefully I won't look back in ten years at my 25 year old self and think the same thing...