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Are there topics that you shy away from? As writers, we are encouraged to dig deep and excavate the deep dark places within ourselves to find the truth. Heck, there is a cottage industry in posters that say things like – 

Okay, I get it. Write about the stuff that wakes you up breathless in the middle of the night – cancer, abuse, domestic violence, mental illness – BUT does anyone want to read about that stuff. I’m beginning to wonder.

Several years ago, a workshop leader advised me to abandon my then work-in-progress because no one would want to read a book about a woman with cancer, no matter how funny I made the book. She was pretty adamant about it. I took that as a challenge and finished the book. Now, I’m wondering if I should have listened to her and stuck with happier topics.

A theme has run through the reviews of my latest book, most recently on Luccia Gray’s blog – Rereading Jane Eyre and Aditi Saha’s blog Bookstop Corner. (Thank you, ladies.)  Other reviewers said things like – “When I first read the blurb for this book I had my reservations” and “Despite the subject matter … it has a very positive, uplifting feel to it.” That makes me wonder. How many people have picked up my book and put it back down because it has to do with a woman fighting cancer? Do some topics make people shut down before they have a chance to consider a book?

Which brings me to my question – Are there topics that are just too scary for readers? Is it an individual thing? For me, depictions of sadism make me want to run screaming from the bookstore. Judging from the sales of BDSM erotica, I may be alone in that feeling.

What topics do you refuse to read about? As writers, do you agree that we should mine the depths of our souls as fodder for our art? Should we share our most difficult experiences and thoughts? Does anyone want to hear them? Should we stay away from the scary stuff?


This post is part of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group. I encourage you to visit the other participating bloggers and see what is going on in their writing rooms today. If you like what you see, please join in. You won’t regret it.

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