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October 20, 2006

The Blessed Gift of Self-Censorship

So I was writing something today about writing, and I realized that as I was writing it I was boring the ever-living crap out of my own self. So I stopped, trashed it and you will never see what it was, for which you should be thankful. I think it's nice that I know when I'm writing boring, annoying crap, because it means I get to spare you the terror of having to read it. I won't say my self-censorship is perfect -- no doubt boring, annoying crap gets through -- but at least it works now and then.

Posted by john at October 20, 2006 01:09 PM

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KL | October 20, 2006 01:32 PM

You're also pure evil. I mean, teasing us with a story like that, and then not actually PROVIDING us with aforementioned crap to read through and cheerfully vomit all over...

Steve Buchheit | October 20, 2006 01:50 PM

Steven King says most books about writing are pure BS. Of course he says this in "On Writing" which is Steven King's book on writing.

Dane | October 20, 2006 01:51 PM

Ditto- make with the comparative essay already so that we can peer behind your magician's curtain.

There is no sense only showing the face you want seen...let us, your adoring fans, decide what is boring crap for once.

John Scalzi | October 20, 2006 01:53 PM

Well, you do that anyway -- I'm just not providing you something I know is an obvious example.

Steve Buchheit | October 20, 2006 02:17 PM

So you're making it intentionally hard on us, eh?

John Scalzi | October 20, 2006 02:21 PM

That's right. I'm the bastard here.

Steve Buchheit | October 20, 2006 02:33 PM

Sometimes self-censorship is good, like when you think, "this is dreck, and bad dreck at that." When it's self-censorship by thinking, "if I do this I get a whuppin'," which, strangely enough, I self-censored a post two threads back that started that way.

Just remember, don't prejudge the market, John. :)

Jon | October 20, 2006 02:33 PM

If it was really that bad, we would never have to read it anyway. Your publisher would reject it. But you could be a wonderful thoughtful person to your loyal fans and post it online somewhere so we can read it and decide. You may have been wrong. If you ask the little woman, I am sure she will agree it wouldn't be the first time.

Steve Buchheit | October 20, 2006 02:34 PM

Sometimes self-censorship is good, like when you think, "this is dreck, and bad dreck at that." When it's self-censorship by thinking, "if I do this I get a whuppin'," (which, strangely enough, I self-censored a post two threads back that started that way) is when it's bad.

Just remember, don't prejudge the market, John. :)

Tripp | October 20, 2006 02:46 PM

Since I enjoy your trashings you could post it and then immediately trash it and that would be entertainment enough.

claire | October 20, 2006 02:53 PM

thank you, john.

Johnny Carruthers | October 20, 2006 02:58 PM

It couldn't be THAT bad, now. Could it?

John Scalzi | October 20, 2006 03:03 PM


"If it was really that bad, we would never have to read it anyway. Your publisher would reject it."

And indeed, as it was written for the Whatever, that's exactly what happened.

Erbo | October 20, 2006 03:05 PM

Oh, I do that sort of thing all the time...I'll start to write a comment on somebody's blog, or on EMinds, and, after I get halfway through it, I'll just click off the page and consign those words to the bit bucket. Usually it's because I look at it and say to myself, "this isn't making the kind of sense I thought it would."

Thankfully, this comment is not one I dumped. Or should that be "unfortunately"? That is for the future to decide...

ship | October 20, 2006 03:14 PM

i'm pretty sure that even your worst writing is 50 times better than my best writing, so don't feel so bad. i'd love to read what you consider "boring"!

Nathan | October 20, 2006 03:46 PM

Personally, I think you'd have been doing us a favor by putting up some blathering, inane, ill-thought-out post.

It would be nice, for a change, if you gave us the opportunity to take you to task and have you digitally walk off with your tail between your legs.

DAMN YOU, SACLZI !!!!!!(!)

Chang who is theoretically at "work" | October 20, 2006 03:47 PM

Thank you.

I write enough dreck as it is. God forbid a published, professional author should also clog the dreck-osphere with his weak offerings.

Seriously, though. What was it? SOmething else about rockt attacks?

And you better post a good sunset picture or another Athena photoshop jobbie after the paucity of material today, sonny!

Michelle Sagara | October 20, 2006 03:53 PM

I think I would have liked to see your definition of boring.

Because I think I spent a year or two not really writing much on-line because I was so certain I was being boring that I didn't, well, post much at all, come to think of it.

Hmmm. Never mind.

Scott Mactavish | October 20, 2006 04:02 PM

Yes, yes.

I was (very) recently commissioned to write a humor piece for a national men's mag.

I cranked the article out over a couple of days, and it read as if written by a seventy year-old Belgian lesbian.

(Not that there's anything wrong with that. I too, like women, cargo shorts and waffles.)

Anyhoo- I had to sh*tcan the whole thing and start over. The second time worked much better, but will still get five or eight polishes.

Dan | October 20, 2006 04:27 PM

Well, if you really wanted to torture us, you'd have posted it and NOT allowed us to comment on it.

kero aka kevin | October 20, 2006 04:29 PM

So are people not commenting on this to be ironic or because they have nothing to say?

Steve Buchheit | October 20, 2006 04:55 PM

Kero, discussing something that isn't there is a hard gig, you know.

Although, we could discuss censorship issues, writing issues, why Scalzi ACTUALLY hasn't been posting too much issues (gee, he's doing offline writing duties, nah, that isn't the Scalzi I've come to know), and the difference between dreck, drivel, and pure drivel.

Steve Buchheit | October 20, 2006 04:56 PM

Or apples. That was fun.

JonathanMoeller | October 20, 2006 04:57 PM

Eh, just tape some lunchmeat to a cat and call it a day.

Nathan | October 20, 2006 05:10 PM

I like fried Spam. The kind from the can. MMMMMMMM!

Janiece | October 20, 2006 06:13 PM


Did you, by any chance, grow up in Hawaii?

Speaking of food, I bought some Honeycrisp apples today, as John's recommendation was not the first one I have received. I haven't tried one yet, though, since the draw of chocolate dipped macaroons is much stronger than that of an apple.

Mark DF | October 20, 2006 06:28 PM

You were just afraid I'd take you off my friends list if you posted it.

Mule Face | October 20, 2006 11:43 PM

I was going to make a smart-ass comment that you should have done it a few other times....but then I censored myself....oh wait...

Buck | October 20, 2006 11:51 PM

We all know that John was going to share the article he was preparing for his regular column in "Soap Opera Digest." If you really, really need to read the excised material, just buy next month's copy and read anything written by LuWanda Turgidmember.

Lil'T | October 21, 2006 01:30 AM

I think I may have to practice a bit of that.

By the way Steve it's Stephen King. Not Steven.

Steve Buchheit | October 21, 2006 09:37 PM

Lil'T, so am I, and I mix them up sometimes (because in my mind it doesn't really matter). I could also tell stories about how people in in the midwest don't seem to understand the "ph" and the confusions it causes, especially in SW Ohio.

Ginny | October 22, 2006 01:18 PM

I have done that with everything I have written since High School. I grew up with grand delusions of writing the Great American Novel, and every single time over the years that I wrote more than a paragraph I decided that it was bad and trashed it.

That's why I'm in radio and an expert knitter today, jealously peering in on the lives of folks who do what I wanted to do when I was a kid. :)

...I suck, that's why.

Patrick Shepherd | October 23, 2006 10:27 AM


What confusion? My younger brother is a Stephen, and we spent several years in both Ohio and West Virginia, and I didn't notice any problem. Although there was always a problem with our last name - nobody seems to remember what the dictionary spelling is.

Steve Buchheit | October 23, 2006 11:32 AM

Patrick, I've experienced much confusion over "Stephen" in my years, most notably when I worked in Cincinnati.

I went to interview for one design firm and while I was in the lobby I noticed just how many strikingly beautiful women worked in the office. At that time this was a major plus in the "wanting to work here" category. When I was still waiting over half-an-hour after my appointment time, I noticed that the office was all women. When I was finally admitted into the conference room it was very clear they thought from my resume that I was a "Stephanie" and I had absolutely no chance of being employed there. I didn't even get to show my book/portfolio before I got the "this other place is looking for people, maybe you should try there," speech.

While here in NE Ohio at places like doctor's offices and other places that you need to sign in and then they call your name I may get the occasional "Stefan." In both Cincinnati and Parkersburg (I worked in both) I would get "Stephanie" from people who hadn't seen me sign in, or hadn't met me before. This is why I mostly go by "Steve."

As for confusion, try my last name. If I hear a "Steve" and then a pause, I respond to that. As an FYI, the "ch" is silent for my side of the family.

Jenna Glatzer | October 28, 2006 02:17 AM

I would just like to mention that on the day after you found yourself writing boring crap about writing, I also found myself writing boring crap about writing. I similarly used the delete key and felt relieved to see the crap disappear from my screen before it could infect others.

Thank you for sharing my misery.

Dudez | January 14, 2007 05:55 AM

Hey dudez,
I wanted to write somefink.
Peace Dudez.

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