Thursday, June 7, 2012

Swearing on the Internet

This is something I've thought quite a bit about. While I write adult novels too, my main two projects right now are respectively young-adult and middle-grade. This blog exists partly so that when agents that I query Google me, they find something other than a video of my twenty-year-old self performing a passage from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight for my Acting Medieval Literature class.

(By the way, that fucker still comes up higher than the blog when you Google my name. This is probably due to my utter lack of internet savvy.)

Do I really want agents' first impression of me—as an author of books for our nation's children—to be a blog on which two of the most recent post titles include the words "goddamn," "bitch," and "douche basket?"

The thing is, though, that the agents kind of stopped being who I wrote this blog for somewhere around my third or fourth post. I began to get readers who were not children, but were rather new writers just like myself. And some of them seem to find me funny, much to my bewilderment but also great relief.

Because, you see, I don't know how to blog and not turn the whole thing into a joke. Sure, some days I'll be in the mood to write a serious post about writing, and it'll actually inspire other writers, and it'll be this amazing, beautiful, wholesome thing for all involved. Sometimes I'll even get my shit together enough to have a writing contest that people will actually enter, despite there being no prize but a sense of writerly community and an imaginary spaceship.

But those are a lot harder for me to spin out than a silly post about how to pronounce "Karger" or an explanation of why I should never have to do anything on my birthday, ever. The fact that these are the posts that get the highest traffic also shows that they are what's really working on this blog. Writerly posts mainly appeal to writers, while the funny ones can appeal to everyone.

I swear a lot in my attempts at humorous writing—I always have. I could ramble for days about why swearing makes things funnier, but Jenny Lawson's already done it in fourteen words:

There's no real way to explain it—cursing can infuse just about any dull sentence with a generous dollop of hilarious flavor. 

"I went to the grocery store today and got some Klondike bars."


"I went to the motherfucking grocery store today and got some motherfucking Klondike bars."

"I'm sorry you didn't get that promotion at work."


"Fuck those fucking asshats at your job. And their mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers ... extended family, too. Just fuck all of them."

"I do not enjoy people who don't walk up the really narrow subway escalators."



I enjoy all sorts of words, and curses are most definitely amongst the ones I enjoy most. Spoken in anger, curses can do a great deal of damage—I'm certainly not contesting this. But I can say quite seriously that I have never, and will never, curse in anger on this blog.

I swear with the aim of entertainment. I swear because it makes me chuckle to do so. I swear because posting three times a week with my work schedule is difficult, and curses count for easy laughs.

One of the things I love most about words is not the words themselves, but how we can twist and bend them into so many different shapes. Curses can be harmful and horrible, and I discourage you Velocininjas from ever using them in your ninja fights.

But if you decide you want some gummi bears, I hope to God you announce that you want some



Because it's just so much funnier that way.


  1. motherfucker is a curse word that has never appealed to me. The rest of them...happen a lot. I used to have to censor my blog because my grandmother read it and she'd give out whenever I cursed but then I got a new blog, and the ability to curse at will is beautiful.

    At the end of the day, they're just words.

    1. Motherfucker is a favorite of mine--not for its meaning, but because whenever I read it, I hear it in Samuel L. Jackson's voice. My mom reads the blog sometimes and she usually hates cursing, but she also called the other day to tell me how much she liked my "it's my goddamn birthday" post. So you never know!

  2. People think it's funny as fuck when I curse in person (I somehow give the impression of being way nicer, sweet as can be, blah blah blah, than I really am). It makes the whole thing of cursing hilarity so much better.

    1. That happens to me too! People are like, "Wow, Jill, I've never heard you swear before!" And I'm always like, "I swear all the fucking time..." Maybe some people just have selective hearing when it comes to seemingly nice ladies cursing.

  3. I read that Gummi Bears line in Samuel L. Jackson's voice. I could listen to that man say "motherfucker" all day long. Everything sounds better punctuated by a good, strong "motherfucker."

    And I too have been told I'm "too sweet" to curse - Inevitably some person who knows me better than the speaker pipes up with "Clearly you don't know her yet. It's always the innocent ones." That's right - It's always the motherfucking innocent ones.

    1. I'm so glad! The Gummi Bears line should only be read in Sammy J's voice. And now I'm pretty sure I need to watch Pulp Fiction again--I'll just fast forward through the parts where that annoying French chick rambles on about wanting a pot belly.