Several concerned citizens have come forward to lament the use of…uh…let’s just say the coarse language in my book, The Very Worst Missionary: A Memoir or Whatever. Not because they have any kind of personal objection to my willingness to use all the words available. Nope, they’re upset because they feel I have an important message to share about faith or church or missions, and they know some people who really need to hear this message but won’t be able to because of “the swears”.
I am rolling my eyes so hard right now, but honestly? It’s kind of a valid objection.
I mean, it would be if I cared.
See, here’s the thing: If you want to be a writer (or a creator of any kind), you’ve really got to come to grips with the fact that not everything you make is gonna be for everyone and that’s ok. I have no interest in pandering to a larger crowd for the sake of a bigger audience, even if it means I won’t get my message to as many people. This may shock you, but it’s not my purpose in life to tell the whole church and everyone in it my thoughts on God and faith and ministry and all that stuff. My goal here was to write a memoir, not a thesis, so my job was to write my story, my way, and that’s what I did. For any number of reasons, the language being only one, the book I released into the world isn’t gonna appeal or be palatable to a lot of people, and I’m 100% cool with that.
That’s not to say I don’t care about furthering important conversations around the themes of spiritual evolution, church bullshit, and messed up missions that I touch on in the book, just that I don’t really care if some hyper conservative blowhards don’t hear those messages from me. If someone’s eyeballs are too righteously delicate too see “bad words” in print, or their earholes are too religiously tender for a little Audible profanity, then a book that uses the word “fuck” to talk about fucked up missions obviously isn’t the right vehicle to get the message to them. Like, I’m just not their people and my book is not their book — and that’s cool, because if you liked my book and you know some serial pearl-clutcher who needs to hear about something in it (but can’t because their face will melt off), you can tell them all about it using church approved words that won’t make their heart burst into flames or turn them into pillar of salt. And, bonus! They’ll actually be way more inclined to listen to your ideas because they know you and love you.
So I’m not worried.
If you’re still super bummed that you can’t give a copy of The Very Worst Missionary to your sweet old Bible thumping granny or that college age niece who can’t take a hint and keeps sending you letters to beg for cash for her Spring break Mission Trip to evangelize shirtless Spanish soccer players on the beaches of Aruba, there’s an easy solution – CENSOR IT!
I’m dead serious.
Buy 2 copies, one for you and one for your special friend (it’s less than 10 bucks on Amazon), and censor it yourself!!! Since there’s such a wide range as to what people deem intolerable when it comes to language, you can even customize the level of censorship needed for your special someone. Like, your pastor might only need the vowels crossed out of offending words to make them readable, your mother-in-law could be ok with “ass” and “damn” but not “shit”, and you might want to thoroughly scour the pages for your 9th grader just so you feel like a good parent (even though you’ve seen her texts and you know she talks like an actual trucker at school). Whatever man.
The world is your oyster!
Since I already hand-censored a copy for a release party giveaway, I went ahead and made a handy guide for your use. It may not be totally complete, so use caution, but I did try to include all iterations (i.e. fuck, fucking, mother fucker, etc.) and compounds (i.e. dickwad, shitballs, etc.):
Fuck, pages xiv, 9, 52, 62, 65, 80, 106, 129, 148, 165, 170, 184, 203, 210
Shit, pages 3, 9, 10, 13, 21, 28, 30, 36, 44, 48, 52, 60, 61, 71, 73, 78, 80, 88, 92, 98, 119, 146, 152, 173, 175, 178, 179, 183, 184, 186, 192, 209, 210, 215, 220, 221
Asshole, pages xiv, 24, 34, 36, 178, 191
Bitch, pages 42, 82, 90, 102, 145, 183
Dick, pages 13, 14, 63, 88, 129, 176, 205
Damn, pages 8, 10, 18, 25, 69, 99, 146, 160, 210, 212
Bastard, page 10
Ass…Yeah,no. I’m not even gonna bother, because for real if your person cannot handle the word “ass”, you really need to find them a different book. For real. I appreciate your effort, but this will not end well.
So there it is! Finally, a solution to the SHARE vs SWEAR problem that’s been keeping us all up at night. Grab a sharpie and get to it!