Sunday, May 2, 2010

On What Wall Is Your Ladder Leaning?

Last week I started reading a novel (I won’t mention the author’s name) that began well enough, but about half way through the plot the author ventured into the most graphic sex scene I had ever come across. I stopped reading, threw the book in the recycle can (hoping the pages would be put to better use) and started searching for prose worth my time. Now I ask you, I know sex sells, but are our efforts to become great writers enhanced by writing pornography? Wouldn’t we better spend our time lifting souls and encouraging others through our words?

That author is probably laughing all the way to the bank. After all, I helped fund her future projects by buying her book in the first place. Though I’ve added her name to my black list of stinky authors, I’ve already helped to further the demise of morality in the world with my purchase. Not to be a prude, but honestly, why can’t we leave the most sacred of acts behind our bedroom doors and write something that can pull us out of the trash receptacles of life?

A wise man, Boyd K. Packer, once expressed my sentiments in a perfect analogy: “There are many who struggle and climb and finally reach the top of the ladder, only to find out that it is leaning against the wrong wall.”

If we have to struggle and climb to the top, why not reflect the best of what life has to offer? Of course, the plots we create must reflect opposition to make the story interesting, but the sole use of the lurid and the degrading, just to sell a book, saddens me beyond expression. I can’t help think those authors will one day find themselves under the heavy hand of heaven’s task masters erasing their words with their noses.

Some might argue that free expression is what makes our vocation important. Yes, that freedom is important. But I believe the way we use our gift, either for sensationalism or for helping people discover the best they possess within them, matters far more than we realize. And if I’m wrong--well, I’d rather be on the side of honor and decency, than on the dark side, enticing the worst from my readers.

Were we put here on this earth for good or for evil? Whether we believe in God or not, something inside tells me we already know what wall we need to scale. And in this day and age, we have no time to waste. We'd better start climbing as fast and high as possible.


Unknown said...

It's a shame there wasn't an obvious clue that things would get graphic. There is an audience for that and another audience who prefer not. Good Luck with the search for a new read.

Jan Cline said...

That's why I believe it is so important to get more Christian writers published. The doors need to open to counter balance the other publications that should end up in the recycle bin! Thoughtful post.

Unknown said...

Thank you. It takes courage to face issues with absolutes in a world of moral relativity - the latter being a tool employed intentionally or not - that is bringing about our nation's evident moral decline.

We need more artists of the Fine and Literary Arts who understand this crucial reality who have the courage to stand strong in it.

I believe it is these patient and insightful creative souls who will ultimately give and receive the most.

Peggy Shumway said...

Elaine-all the reviews for the book and the blurb on the back made it sound like a wonderful read.

Jan-Here, here! I hope the existing publishing houses will make room for us.

Colleen-I agree. Now if only the readership will lean more toward the uplifting works rather than the those that degrade.

Margo Berendsen said...

Oh Bravo!!

I loved this so much I have to quote it back to you:

"Yes, that freedom is important. But I believe the way we use our gift, either for sensationalism or for helping people discover the best they possess within them, matters far more than we realize. And if I’m wrong--well, I’d rather be on the side of honor and decency, than on the dark side, enticing the worst from my readers."

You said it so well!

Tina Boone said...

I really like your Boyd K. Packer quote. It applies to so many things in life.

Peggy Shumway said...

Margo- Thanks for your support. I'm so glad someone agrees with me.

C.R. - That is so true! Thanks for dropping by.

Angie said...

Great, great post! I agree whole-heartedly. I think it's so important to read (and write) things that are ultimately uplifting. Thanks for stopping by my blog and becoming a follower!

Clementine said...

Yes! It ruins a book. I can't stand it when sex is confused with love. I've thrown so many books in the trash over this. So disappointing.

Peggy Shumway said...

Angie- Hopefully the uplifting writers of the world will become more prolific than the other.

Amy- Welcome back. I know there must be a list of books that inform us of acceptable content. You can never tell by reading reviews or the blurbs on the back of a book.

Marsha Ward said...

Peggy, I've always loved that BKP quote. I hope my ladder is leaning against the right wall. Maybe if I ever take that first step up and get off the ground, I'll find out.

Interesting word ver: inguilem

Unknown said...

In my literary critique group we call that an O.S.S. (obligatory sex scene) It's one thing if it blends with story and adds meaning, but if it's just there for the sensation, it's just an O.S.S. that will stick out like a sore thumb and cheapen the writing.

Peggy Shumway said...

Marsha- Your ladder is always leaning on the right wall! Your books are wonderful.

Lee- That scene certainly cheapened the writing and then some. Sweet little covers and comments can't be trusted!

Rebekah D. Hay said...

Great post! And I just had to add a little something I read in a writing book recently (sorry, I read so many, there's no way I can remember who this is from). Basically, the author said that when it comes to sex and violence, what readers really want (though most authors just don't realize it) is the extreme of the emotions. So not necessarily nudity, intercourse and gore. But more the feelings that come with them.

I thought that was a great piece of advice:)

Love the blog, and the quote, btw! I saw BKP and had to look twice. It's so nice to see a familiar name around the blogs:)

Peggy Shumway said...

Rebekah-Thanks for stopping and leaving the quote. I think we need to include how our characters feel in the different situations that bombard them. But I still would have trouble writing the graphics of lovemaking. Just thinking about it makes me blush.