It’s the first Wednesday of the month and that means Insecure Writer’s Support Group (IWSG) is enjoying its monthly blog fest invented by Alex J. Cavanaugh. IWSG is a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds.
QUESTION: In your writing, where do you draw the line, with either topics or language?
ANSWER: I’ve managed La Cruz Writers’ Group (LCWG) since 2012. Before Covid, members gathered in an air conditioned room each Saturday morning. As a marina tenant, I’m afforded free access. This was a treasured perk because we live in the topics and every afternoon we wilt in the hot humid weather.
Anyone interested in writing was welcome. I facilitated rather than a dictated. I believed in freedom of speech. I was tested.
One long time member reserved time to read. Typically, he’s written delightful observations of our local Mexican town. He stood at the podium and read. I gasped as the microphone amplified his speech. The main thrust was derogatory references to women’s body parts.
Two weeks later he read a new story with similar tone and subject matter. One mom brought her two daughters, ages 10 and 12. To his credit, he did suggest they leave the room as his piece was adult subject matter.
Several women were offended. After our gathering they expressed their discomfort. One said, “He sounded like an angry gay man that resents women.” For the first time in my life, I recognized my line. I didn’t care a fig he was gay, I did care what he wrote about female anatomy.
I spoke to him and we discussed the reaction of some of the members. His explained he wanted to use our group to test his stand up entertainment material. Unfortunately, his material was better tested in a late night bar serving adult beverages.
My “Freedom of Speech” belief was challenged. I was naive. The result of my tolerance resulted in some women never returning. Youngsters with a budding interest in writing were banished from the room. Complaints to management could threaten access to our cool meeting space.
Folk as trusted me to use good judgment and schedule topics appropriate for all ages. I discovered I have a line and will take action when crossed.
This writer choose not to return to our writers’ group. He is talented and creative. I hope he was able to find the outlet that works for him and his audience.