I first learned about Clean Reader App when I read Chuck Wendig’s blogpost last night. The next thing I did was to check the app myself.
It’s true! It’s really there, this Clean Reader App with its tag “Read books, not profanity”.
I didn’t download it though. I tell you why. I separate my explanation into three parts: from an author’s point of view, from a reader’s, and from a mother’s.
I’m an author
My novel, My Lea, falls into new adult contemporary genre. Though not as scorching hot as, let’s say Katy Evans’s or Abbi Glines’ books, My Lea deals with darker issues and emotions. One of the characters, who is in his early 20s, is full of anger and frustration, it’s hard to imagine him talks and thinks differently than the way he talks and thinks in the book. I didn’t throw in profanity because I felt badass writing it. It’s there because the character I create demands it. It’s a part of him. Besides, clearing up the bad words won’t make my book instantly suitable for younger readers anyway, because even if it’s squeaky clean, the message I’m painting through my story is not for their consumption. In this regard, I kind of fail to see why cleaning up a book would make it different, because for me, the book’s content as a whole—its message, its story, its honesty—is more important. Seriously, profanity is nothing as long as it suits the character and within context. If you're so bothered with profanities, then maybe you don't get the big picture here.
My books are my kids. I gave birth to them. I’m proud of them just the way they are. I’m not asking everyone to adore my kids, let’s be honest, there’s no rule that forces us to love everyone’s kids. If you love them, thank you, if you don’t, well, okay then. I love the way my book-kids turn out. If someone out there decides that they don’t like my kid’s green eyes, please don’t ask my kid to wear sunglasses to cover the eyes they happen not to like. Or to change my kid’s hairstyle, or the way my kid dresses. Or the way they curse.
I’m a reader
When I read, I like to be able to feel and think. I need to connect to the characters. To be able to connect is to be able to understand the way these people think and speak, bare and honest. If I think I can’t stand a certain type of genre, or story, or words, I’d stay away. I can never digest horror, so I avoid those. I wouldn’t want to read it and have the words like blood and torn flesh (for example) cleaned up because they offend me. It doesn’t work that way, I guess.
I don’t have a master degree in psychology, but I learn enough to know how weird our brain thinks. The more we cover up, the more curious we get, the more our brain will think about those hidden words. Sure, the app changes bad word into something else, but we know the actual word behind those blurry lines now, don’t we? And it will make us think about it more than if we just let our eyes read the actual word. Well, I could be wrong, but…
"Ha! I know it's not darn. It's this ____ word, right? RIGHT?"
I’m a mother
I’m very picky when it comes to my kids' reading choice. I’m glad I have many bookworm friends who occasionally recommend books for my kids, but I still screen the recommendation myself before handing them over to my children. As a parent to young kids (12 and 7 respectively), it’s my responsibility to set boundaries. Agreed, I wouldn’t want my kids to read books that are not suitable for their age. Agreed, I’d prefer my kids to read books that are clean. Responsibility falls in my hand as their mother. We can’t delegate it to some app. If I think a book is not suitable for my kids, either the content is too mature or they are not my kids’ preference, I would cross it off my list and ask my kids to wait until they’re ready/mature enough to read it. I would not let them read that book with the help of a clean reader app.
There you go, people, my humble two cents.
Keep writing, keep reading, and be yourself!
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