Thursday, May 24, 2007

Thoughts on self-censoring

I tried to get a parking space at the Starbucks in my neighborhood (it's close, but not close enough to walk carrying a laptop and files and books) but it’s street cleaning day so while one side of the streets are empty of cars, the other side is full.

So I drove back here, to the Starbucks near UCI, and I settled in. Mid-morning is even nicer—sunny. It’s spacious, light, and I like the music, which is loud, Latin. I hear voices but I can’t make out what they are saying. Some of the same faces, some different. Saw someone I know from the radio station and he stopped to talk for a minute. I like talking to John, but it was writing time and I began to worry that the morning would be taken up with conversation. My mind darted about: Where else could I work that was close to home but not too close? And then he returned to the counter to pick up his snack.

I have been thinking about self-censoring, how writers are so prone to that. My post yesterday about the downside of the Starbucks in my neighborhood….I considered deleting the part about the surgically enhanced boobies. I don’t want to offend and it’s also such a personal opinion. Then I thought: But it’s what you feel and think about working at that Starbucks. So I left it. We’re too often worried about offending—to the point that we drain the life of our work because we’re afraid to say what we think.

So I left it. No disclaimers, no apologies (almost none, anyway).

These photos are from my beach walk prior to writing. That sign in the first one is a bit nerve-racking.




7 comments:

Deborah said...

thank you for NOT censoring yourself. the exact line in question had me rolling yesterday and i thought it was just great.

i raise my cup of chai with soy to you this morning in honor of you!

woz

deirdre said...

I didn't comment yesterday, but the boobies bit made me laugh. So glad you didn't edit that out.

Deborah said...

I so want to be there, in that water, washing away my sensibilities...

Steve Lyon said...

I have been thinking about this for a while, esp. as I am working on revision, and wonder where editing leaves off and self-censorship starts. I think there is a place where they overlap, say where editorial judgement gets into the personal, especially if you're working on memoir and there they are, your relatives and friends, who are going to read what you're writing...

Judy Kay said...

Boo to the Censor.

BTW - I'd be more offended if you referred to me as prancing by than I would be if you wrote about my surgically enhanced bosom.

Barbara DeMarco-Barrett said...

; }
I would never say anything critical about you....!

AnnieElf said...

You are so right - self-censoring DOES drain the life from one's work. Also one's life. Learned that the hard way. Amazing how much easier life is when the self-censoring governess has been given the boot. It lack of censorship doesn't mean we are being unkind either. It is mostly about being true about what we are seeing or hearing in our world at that moment and how we feel about what we are seeing and hearing.