Censorship – Write Like your Parents are Dead!

Censorship is alive and well and living inside every writer’s head. It comes to fore when the topics get tough and every word matters. A clever observer once said the key to finding your true voice was to write as if your parents were dead. As writers, we have to grow up, to mature, to throw off our exhibitions, ignore the urge to self censor and just write (as if our parents were dead).

My first act of rebellion was to include bad language. Somehow writing the f word seems much stronger than saying it. For one thing, it remains on the page in full view long after it is written. There is no denying its presence. A spoken curse on the other hand can be an accident or an ephemeral explosion of sound. It may not even be heard. My next was to discover that a central character, the mother, was as horrible as you might even have the misfortune to meet. My third was to include sex, lots of it. In desperation my sister suggested I publish this terrible book under my ex husband’s name; and bring shame on my in-laws instead! My mother politely suggested I write proper stuff instead.

At a work reunion some years ago I met a colleague who was also writing. We spoke about composing sex scenes. He confessed it was beyond him; that the pages rejected his words. I asked was he happily married and he said he was. Newly inured by my own divorce, I could only suggest that he wrote as if he were never married,

Then last week at a book launch, I met two women; an old friend and a new friend. We were all writing. My two friends were writing crime books, dark subjects with bodies and serial killers and twisted methods of murder. They laughed over how they researched the most gruesome of topics with delight; how long it might take a body to decompose, how difficult it was to sever a head, how much blood might be pooled on the ground after a murder. They said their children despaired of them and the genre. They politely suggested their mothers write proper stuff instead.

Armed with this nugget of information I returned home to my teenage children. They know I am writing a book which contains graphic sexual scenes. I lazily call it my sex book, my Irish version of the Fifty shades of grey. It is actually hen lit; the grownup version of chick lit. I pointed out to my children that it could be worse; I could be writing about serial killers and twelve year old children being tortured and killed. They were not impressed. They politely suggested that they would rather I wrote despicable crimes than sex.

So I have a new observation for writers stepping into troubled waters. Write as if you were an orphaned lone child who never married and who never had any children!

Good luck!


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Journalist, Broadcaster, Writer, Speaker, Law Changer, Dreamer


  1. How this made me laugh. I write sex(y) stuff too and would NEVER have told my mother. The middle generation have always been more broadminded, I think. Kids are sooo moral, when it comes to their parents’ behaviour. One day, they will conveniently forget they ever were!!! And you can enjoy teasing them about it. Find Kristal Here

  2. There’s always someone who will censor our work.. but thankfully there is also someone who will enjoy and maybe learn a thing or two from it.. Write as an educator and entertainer then no one can complain.. oh and keep plenty of hen lit in it so we can all learn 😉

  3. Hi there Gillian, i love your blogs, just discovered them and they jolted me back to the bray people newspaper of several years ago and all the hassle you had. I am delighted nay overcome with fizzleness that it didn’t get you, that you are feisty and fighting. I too am doing my absolute best to enter into my middle years with a thundering fucking bang(as in explosion, not em, you know). My son is a trainee officer in the navy and laughs out loud at the way I conduct myself, but at 27 he is never embarrassed. Keep writing. I love Blogs wahaayyyyyy. BTW have a read of mine…can be a bit dark…

    • I’m going to have a look now. Fully agree we have to live despite whatever crap life throws at us. This month I have to close my office and let go my long term friend and colleague. My next blog is entitled… I’ve hit more bottoms than mr grey! lol

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