A few days ago my mom had a lunch, an affair to show off her Christmas decorations before she started taking them down. There were seven of us munching on layered Jell-O salad, finger sandwiches, and clam chowder. Over coffee, one of the ladies said:

“Tell us again how you started writing.”

I won’t bore you with the story, but my start involved a dare, a lot of hours of butt in the chair, no expectation of ever getting published and absolute terror and self-doubt once my first book went to contract.

When I was finished with my tale, she said: “Wow, that
took guts.”

I wanted to tell her that, no, writing my first book didn’t
take guts, staying in the industry did. If you’re reading this, and you are
writing, you qualify as gutsy.

Every day you make decisions that will change the course of
your career: you dig into your own pocket for advertising and public relations,
are faced with tough demands from publishers and hard creative choices.
Currently, there is a decision many of you will face and that is whether or not
to sign a traditional publishing contract that contains a morality
clause
. Such clauses are included by houses like Simon & Schuster and
Penguin Putnam and, if enforced, will void a contract (often asking for
advances back and always removing books by the offending authors) because of
past, present or future behavior that they consider immoral. ‘They’ – the judge
and jury – are the publishers or public outcry on social media or anything that,
in the publisher’s opinion, makes your work less saleable.

Morality clauses were nothing new, but in years gone by
there were strict codes of morality based on widely accepted public mores and
religious guidelines. In this day and age a moral transgression can be
determined by a fashionable whim, a person who frivolously points a finger, or
a trending Tweet. Today Oscar Wilde would not be considered immoral, yet in his
time he was arrested and jailed for homosexuality. Still, his work was published
and it was the public that decided whether or not to read it.

There are many questions about clauses like this, not the
least of which is this: does such a clause infringe on free speech? Even more concerning
is tying morality to salability, a bottom line, money. This space is too small
for such a big debate, but here’s my bottom line: a publishing contract is a
rare thing and, when offered, it will take guts to reject it because of a
morality clause. It will also take guts to accept it and live with the
knowledge that you, personally, and not just your work, could be deemed immoral
at any time for any reason.

There’s a lot to think about in 2019 and one of those things
is to ask yourself if you have the guts to be a writer.


Author Bio
Author Bio
She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
  • Rebecca Forster June Featured Author

    Rebecca Forster is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system.

  • Rebecca Forster June Featured Author

    Rebecca Forster is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system.

  • A ‘Wrich” Experience
    A few days ago my mom had a lunch, an affair to show off her Christmas decorations before she started taking them down. There were seven of us munching on layered Jell-O salad, finger sandwiches, and clam chowder. Over coffee, one of the ladies said: “Tell us again how you started writing.” I won’t bore […]
  • Rebecca Forster June Featured Author

    Rebecca Forster is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system.

  • Rebecca Forster June Featured Author

    Rebecca Forster is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system.

BEFORE HER EYES

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BEYOND MALICE

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FOREIGN RELATIONS

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HOSTILE WITNESS

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INTIMATE RELATIONS

KEEPING COUNSEL

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THE MENTOR

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VANITIES: The 90s Collection

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VOWS: The 90s Collection

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She marketed a world-class spa when it was still called a gym, did business in China before there were western toilettes at the Great Wall and mucked around with the sheep to find out exactly how her client’s fine wool clothing was manufactured. Then Rebecca wrote her first book and found her passion. Now, over twenty-five books later, she is a USA Today and Amazon bestselling author and writes full-time, penning thrillers that explore the emotional impact of the justice system. She earned her B.A. at Loyola, Chicago and her MBA at Loyola, Los Angeles. Rebecca has taught the Business of Creativity at University of California Long Beach Writers Certificate Program, UCLA and UC Irvine extension. Married to a Los Angeles Superior Court judge, she is the mother of two grown sons and spends her free time traveling, sewing, and playing tennis.
  • Jann Ryan says:

    Enjoyed reading your post today Rebecca.

  • Thanks Jann. Times are changing aren’t they?

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