Writers Boon Blog


  • Is there anything one should feel ashamed of writing?

    Barbara Casey, Paul Rapisarda, Crystal Reed, Angela Merlo, JS Danielle and Iris Chacon


    Barbara Casey is the author of several award-winning novels for both adults and young adults, and numerous articles, poems, and short stories.

    Paul Rapisarda

    Crystal Hope Reed is the author of How to Live with a Psychic, the first book on the market addressing this increasingly common relationship dynamic. She is also a professional animal communicator and has helped clients all over the U.S. with their pet issues. 

    Angela Merlo

    JS Danielle

    Iris Chacon writes humorous, romantic mysteries set in her native Florida. She has written for radio, stage and screen, and is currently finishing her sixth novel.

    Each month on Writers Boon Blog, writers take on questions about the world of books. This week, Barbara Casey, Paul Rapisarda, Crystal Reed, Angela Merlo, JS Danielle and Iris Chacon discuss whether there is anything writers should feel ashamed of writing. 

    Barbara Casey

    Probably the only shame in writing would come from poor quality. As long as a writer feels passion for the subject, and is able to present a story truthfully and in an entertaining way, then there are no limits. 

    Many of my fictional characters are not "nice" people. But within the context of the story itself, they are what create the most interest. 

    The same is true for my nonfiction books. When I wrote the biography of JoAnne Chesimard aka Assata Shakur, I found it really difficult to connect with her and understand what motivated her to do the things she was accused of. It was when I came across information about her childhood that I was finally able to make the connection I needed in order to write about her truthfully, without bias or prejudice, and give a complete picture of her life to my readers. 

    Enjoy what you write and the passion will be obvious.

    Whether you are writing something that is about good or about evil, there simply is no shame in that.

    Paul Rapisarda

    There is nothing one should feel ashamed of writing. Since I deal with the realm of fiction it all can come from one's imagination. 

    The question is does the writer have the power to evoke different emotions form the reader? It is the readers’ imagination that gets tapped into and the imagery gets stirred up. 

    However, on second thought, there should be some limitations.

    In writing, crossing the line of morality always becomes an issue.

    As we see nowadays there is such a very thin line that can be crossed too easily.

    Crystal Reed 

    The only thing one should be ashamed of writing is material that intentionally promotes physical, emotional, or psychological violence. Exploring these uncomfortable topics through fictional narrative or a research perspective is fine, of course. In fact, it's the artistic imperative to expand readers' thought processes. I'm referring to inflammatory writing that is specifically intended to spur the reader to abuse, oppress, or discriminate against others.

    Angela Merlo

    In terms of "talent," I think it's pretty normal for us to overestimate the quality of our work when we start. 

    We fall in love with our imaginations. 

    We dream of being discovered as if the key to success were to be a prodigy.

    Maybe there are people like that, but the majority of us learn the way anyone else does. Maybe it's when we try to edit our work for the first time. Maybe we hit a point, like I did ages ago, where we can't write two words because we know how bad it'll be. But, the saying is true. Practice does make perfect. Improvement comes gradually and usually with a lot of concentrated effort. 

    And finally, we're in the zone where we're self-conscience about our weaknesses, proud about our successes, and fearful of having new weaknesses pointed out to us. The ideal should be to feel more confident in your ability to learn so that when, say an editor, points out a weakness, we can take it in stride. The more experience we have, the better we become at identifying good constructive criticism, and criticism that takes us nowhere. 

    So, no, don't be ashamed even when you're insecure and feeling vulnerable. 

    If you love to write, keep going.

    JS Danielle

    No. I believe your voice is exactly that: yours. However, offensive material is a different story. 

    I'm of the belief that while some things may be better left's those things that aren't said that can do more damage than saying.

    The things that aren’t said can do more damage than saying.

    Iris Chacon

    One should be ashamed of publishing anything less than their best efforts.

     A mentor once advised me:

    Never show your work to anyone if you must do so with an apology attached.

    Some publishers, traditional and independent, send out ARC's with apologies for errors they say will be fixed in the editing process. Reader-reviewers are asked to ignore the bad spelling, syntax, grammar, punctuation or formatting and simply evaluate the story. If a request of such a nature is required, that book is simply not ready for evaluation. Nor should any writer allow such a book to be publicly (or even semi-publicly) displayed. 

    If an apology is required, the work is unfinished. 

    Make it perfect, as far as one is able, and THEN release it for evaluation. Yes, it takes longer to get it right before getting it out. 

    If the rush to market becomes more important than the quality of the product, that is reason to be ashamed.