The Mom Test

Are all my fellow writers taking advantage of WriteOnCon? I'm trying to catch up during snippets of downtime here at the office, but they are few and far between.

Did any of you see the post on giving yourself permission by Molly O'Neill, an associate editor with Katherine Tegan Books? Many of the "permissions" resonated with me, but one in particular made me giggle a little:

Permission to write a scene or story that might make certain people who love you shocked and surprised.

I don't believe in squeaky-clean writing as an absolute, but I also don't write anything for shock factor. If a curse word or a reference to sex is appropriate, it goes in. So far my YA projects have hovered in the PG-13 category.

However, a few months back I was working on gothic horror for adults. Man, I loved that piece. It was dark and it was twisted. A depraved, soul-sucking (literally) woman and an obsessed man. A few deaths, and a few....ehrm...intimate scenes.

And then I was chit chatting on the phone with my mom. She asked how the writing was going, I shared a few vague details of my current projects at the time, to which she followed up with something along the lines of "well, I can't wait to read it." Cringe.

Well, that did it. The thought of my poor mother reading that piece and wondering when and how her daughter's mind became so warped was enough to make me shelve the project and go back to focusing on my YA.

That manuscript still tugs at me once and a while, though. And if I'm being honest with myself, it contains some of the best prose I've written to date. Someday, I expect, I'll dust it off and finish it. Maybe when I'm not such a noob writer and can actually do the story justice. Maybe just for myself. Or maybe I'll actually put it out there for the world--and my mother--to see. Maybe I'll give myself permission. :)


  1. Oh man. "...when and how her daughter's mind became so warped" -I can relate! I worry about that all the time, which is why I can't stand the thought of my mom ever reading my work. But you never know, your mother might surprise you! :)

  2. You're right, sometimes she does surprise me--and she bizarrely seems to be getting cooler as she gets older. So maybe!

  3. That's so awesome! I wish I could say the same, but my mom doesn't like anything even mildly dark. I'll be lucky if she just tries to have me institutionalized ^.^