Edit Ruthlessly (Photo credit: Dan Patterson)
This past month began slowly with a middle reader manuscript to edit. I enjoyed the 4th of July holiday and dug into the editing process. The middle reader manuscript is a very engaging read so it helps in the editing process. I was halfway through editing this manuscript when I received a call from another author needing help in the final edit to get their book to the publisher by a certain deadline. I finished the manuscript with the publishing deadline and I’m struck with a bad case of vertigo.
For those of you that have never experienced vertigo, I pray you never do. It’s a horrible way to spend several days. When vertigo comes knocking on my door my world spins endlessly even when my eyes are closed. The spinning makes me nauseous, sometimes it’s so bad I can’t keep anything down. I’ll never forget the look of hopelessness on my husband’s face the first time this occurred as I looked up in despair.
My vertigo went away after several doses of medicine and uncountable hours of sleep. I continued on with the middle reader I was originally editing.
I am pleased to announce despite having vertigo I managed to edit two manuscripts in three weeks. I feel like I have conquered the world! Sigh…Well, my little corner of it anyway. It’s the small victories in life that keep me going.
Cover of A Light in the Attic
I was in my car yesterday listening to the radio when I heard the radio personality say that her child was having nightmares after she read a poem in the book A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein. She now thinks the book should not be in the school library. This was one of my favorite books as a child. Her child had read the poem Kidnapped! which is about a child making up excuses for why they were late for school. Most of the poems within this book are humorous and poke fun at everyday activities. It’s meant to be funny. I’ll admit this particular poem could be scary for some children but that’s where being a parent comes in. Talk to your child, have conversations about the different subject matters within these poems. A lot of people called into the radio station agreeing with the host. They think this book should be pulled from the library and encouraged her to go speak with the principal of the school. I was going crazy in my car. I couldn’t believe the amount of people calling in and supporting censorship. A few people called in and reminded the radio host that this book was written in the 70’s and times were different then. I was dumbstruck when the host offered up that authors should not be writing stuff like that. What should they be writing? I wish I could remember exactly what she said, but it was along the lines that authors shouldn’t be writing and publishing this kind of material. If that is the case, why is there so many genres of books? Who then gets to decide what is acceptable to publish? Not everyone likes the same genre of book. If this book is allowed to be pulled from the library shelves where does the censorship stop? Goosebumps? Harry Potter? Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs? Bambi? Hansel & Gretel? Later in the day I went to the radio stations website and found people’s comments on this subject. Within those comments I found the best response to this censorship problem. Joan Simon from UW-Milwaukee shared what a middle school librarian had shared with her,
Reading is a joy, a privilege and the right of every student. As you select the library books you will read, please understand that every book is not the best choice for every student. If a book is unappealing or offensive to you in any way, please return it and select another. You, the student, know which reading materials best serve you and your own standards, reading level, and beliefs.
I don’t believe censorship is the answer. If you know your child gets scared easily, or is an anxious child perhaps a better solution is to help them pick out the right books for them to read, not get rid of the book so no one can enjoy it. Every parent has the right to censor what their own child is exposed to. What is okay for one person is not for another. Each person needs to be allowed to make that decision without enforcing their opinion on others. This difference of opinion is why there are so many books available.
What are your thoughts on censorship? Should someone be censoring every book that gets written to decide what gets published?