Ducking for apples – change one letter and it’s the story of my life.
Sometimes in writers’ blogs the issue of cuss words and blasphemy and other fun literary details raises its head and commenters take pro or anti stands. I thought of this issue yet again when, a few days ago, Carol Kilgore over at Under the Tiki Hut had a guest writer who had come up with an original and clever way to avoid language she found offensive. (The writer is Colby Marshall and her book is a thriller called Chain of Command.)
Personally, I believe that writers should have the freedom to tell their stories in whatever way they please. As for my own writing, I can tell you that I seldom use four-letter words but find it impossible to avoid them, and in my day-to-day life I sure as hell use them. But while I’m not the squeaky clean sort, I thought it’d be fun to pay poetic homage to an invented writer who is.
There once was a writer who wouldn’t
Use swear words or blaspheme and couldn’t
Take the Lord’s name in vain
and would frequently strain
To use much cleaner words when he shouldn’t.
For scatology he’d substitute
The word feces, crap, doo-doo or poop.
Merde was too French,
Turd had an odd stench,
And anything stronger was moot
The F word he held as most crude.
His characters never are lewd,
Hence intercourse, coitus
Or shag interruptus
Are banned, and no one is screwed.
Okay, I shoulda written another verse or two, but that’s all I could come up with on a Sunday night.
So in closing, and in the spirit of this subject, I’m giving you a joke one writer played on his friend. Our cleanest and dirtiest fellow writers would enjoy it.
To the Editor: I would like to know what kind of goddamn govment this is that discriminates between two common carriers and makes a goddam railroad charge everybody equal and lets a goddam man charge any goddam price he wants to for his goddam opera box.
(signed) W.D. Howells
Howell, it is an outrage the way the govment is acting so I sent this complaint to N.Y. Times with your name signed because it would have more weight.
(signed) Mark Twain