I belong to a small online writers’ group that is made up of everything from bestselling authors who are making hundreds of thousands of dollars to newbies who struggle for every sale and consider it a good day if they sell ten books. The one thing we have in common is that everyone there is committed to turning out the very best books they possibly can and is both willing to share what they know and are grateful to learn from the others in the group. There is not an “artist” in the bunch.
In a discussion yesterday I discovered that I’ve apparently slipped behind the times yet again. Who knew that the word “thug” is now a racial slur? One of my author friends tells me that it has evolved from a description of a violent criminal to a reference to the "thug life" in inner cities. He told me that when someone calls a black man a thug, it’s supposedly code for the N word.
This really doesn’t surprise me, because it seems like every day somebody comes up with a new way to be offended. If you so much as open your mouth to speak, or touch a keyboard, there’s a damn good chance you’re going to step over some imaginary line and onto someone’s overly sensitive toes.
I’m sorry, but I just don’t have the time and energy to keep up with all this political correctness our society seems to have a need for. Everything can upset somebody. If you say somebody is fat, people who are overweight might get offended. If you call someone a punk, it means he was somebody’s homosexual bitch in prison. If you say thug this week, the inner city types are not being respected. I don’t care.
Here’s the way I see it. I write in the English language. I don’t write ghetto-speak, or gangsta, or whatever is cool today. I write English. If people who read the English language have a problem with what I write, they don’t have to read it. I write my books for my audience, not for some hoodlum, excuse me, gangsta, excuse me, thug. My books have cops and thugs in them, and fat men and women, and ugly people, and childless couples, and old people and young people.
You see, that’s what writing is all about. Telling the stories of people. Some of those people are pretty and some of them are ugly, some of them are talented and some of them louts, some of them are noble and some of them are evil. If I’ve done my job as an author you will love some of them and hate some of them. Because if I’ve done my job, they comes across as… people.