I just saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo the other night and am now reading the book. Naturally, I was disturbed by some of the scenes I saw in the movie and will take no pleasure in reading them when I get to those parts in the book, but I understand why the author included them. Bad things happen to people in real life; to ignore them in our fiction is to bury our heads in the sand. But it made me wonder… Could I write scenes like that? You know what I mean- the gritty, horrible, sadistic, cover-your-hand-over-your-eyes-because-you-feel-dirty-watching-them scenes.
Yes, yes I can. The problem (for me) doesn’t lie in imagining them, or putting them to paper. The problem lies only in, What would my mother think?? Seriously, my biggest hang-up as I write this novel is getting past the horror and embarrassment my mother will feel when she finally reads some of these scenes.
I am an optimist by nature and like to think that some day my book will be published. I believe this will happen. And when that day comes, I know my mother will be first in line for a signed copy. And then she will read the book, get to one of the more dramatic scenes, and think, “How could my little baby girl write this stuff?”
I’m not even talking about Dragon Tattoo stuff… my drama is weak by comparison. But it is more risque than my mom is used to, and that’s what worries me. Outwardly my mom will smile and tell me how proud of me she is (she really is!) but inwardly she will always wonder if I am secretly depraved, disturbed, or both. I wonder what Stieg Larsson’s mother would have thought upon reading Dragon Tattoo? But then, both she and Larsson died before any of his books were published so it’s really a moot point. My mother, on the other hand, is alive and well, and most certainly will read my book with a raised eyebrow.
So, Mom, let me just assure you right now: No, I’m not depraved or disturbed. I made all this stuff up in my head and none of it ever happened to me or anybody else I know. I love you, and you raised me right. But if I wrote a book about a couple of people who went around doing good deeds and nothing bad ever happened to them, it wouldn’t sell.
Ok, now that I’ve gotten that out of the way, let me just take care of one more thing. To all the readers who are snickering at me right now, I would like to point out that apparently I’m not the only writer who cares what their mother thinks. Open any novel these days and you will see right there on the copyright page:
This is a work of fiction. All the characters and events portrayed in this book are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously…
And you thought that was just for the lawyers.