What color is a polar bear? Redefining ‘adult’ in ‘adult fiction’

Today’s guest post is by Penny Freeman, editor-in-chief at Xchyler Publishing.

Xchyler_logo_color_hi-res-2Although Andrew asked me to write a blog post for his site some time ago, the date of publication came and went with me still staring at the monitor, unable to formulate my thoughts—or, at the very least, unable to figure out how to adequately express my thoughts in a way that would communicate my intent. Then, I read an op-ed in the New York Times about university students who are so intent on protecting [insert special interest group of choice here] from any sort of offense or emotional turmoil, they are campaigning to restrict freedom of speech and the actual texts used in courses.

Huckleberry Finn had to go because of the N-word. Guest lecturers must be un-invited from speaking because they used the N-word in discussing the evolution of the N-word and its social acceptability. Euclid could not be taught in humanities classes because it might trigger emotional responses in victims of violent crime. Such persons may not feel safe or sheltered in such discussions, so those discussions must not occur. Anywhere. Ever.

I believe this is where we, as Mormon writers, too often find ourselves, and why the term “Mormon literature” causes some readers to roll their eyes in frustration. We are so intent on sheltering the reader from offensive material, we wrap them up in cotton and set them in a cozy egg carton, safely deposited on a high shelf. The problem: when readers happen upon stories that refuse to admit life rarely comes equipped with bubble wrap and packing peanuts, they find the writing shallow and dissatisfying, with little dimension and no color. Continue Reading →