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Wednesday 27 May 2009

Whizzpopping for the Queen

When Roald Dahl first submitted his manuscript of the BFG, he was told he couldn't have the main character whizzpopping - parents would just not appreciate it. So what did Dahl do? He added a scene where the BFG whizzpops for the Queen. We all know that this version was published - whether because it was so outrageous that it would work or simply because Roald Dahl was already a well known children's writer is unknown. But we do know that the scene with the BFG whizzpopping for the Queen is one of the most remembered episodes of any Dahl book.

Does our work have to be truly shocking to get noticed? As a writer, do I need to find something that will horrify and disturb the reader, simply to get readers and to be remembered? My dad has a copy of Lady Chatterley's Lover on his bookshelf; not because it is a great book (I haven't read it so am not saying it isn't) but because it was banned. I'm not sure if he's read it or not, but he has it.

And in our modern society, where people have seen everything and are compelled to be open-minded, with freedom of speech, how do we find something controversial to keep ourselves from being forgotten? Should we start a piece of work in the hopes that the controvesy will make it well read?

My personal belief is that the artist should create for the love of his art and not for what they think people want or will respond to. It is only this way in which anything of true value can be made. However, that's not to say I haven't been tempted to add something into my work for the sake of controvesy - though I have found many of my pieces have something in them already, unintended and therefore true.

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