Ninety-nine percent of the time I write exactly what I want to write. But last night I started thinking about the other one percent. I was reading some sexually graphic horror stories by a friend of mine, and the thought occurred to me that I wouldn't feel "free" to write quite that graphically. I wouldn't because 1) I teach at a Catholic University and I don't think the institution's chief academic officers would be very happy about my choice of subjects, 2) I'd be deathly afraid my 90 year old mother would somehow find out and have a heart attack, and 3) I wouldn't want my 19 year old son to read them and start to wonder about his father. Someone might tell me to use a pseudonym, but pseudonym's are never forever. Someone else might tell me that I worry needlessly, and oftentimes I'm sure they are right. But I'm a nervous sort of person and I can't change that after all these years.
In other words, I occasionally censor myself. Francis Bacon supposedly said that: "He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief." I believe this quote to be true, although perhaps Bacon should have added "parents" and "career" to wife and children.
Sometimes I hear people say that art is about never compromising. But life itself is a compromise; it always involves trade-offs. Maybe the greatest writers do bleed absolutely true on the page; maybe that's why they're great. But I'm not among their number. I'm just thankful that ninety-nine percent of the time I want to write the kind of stuff that won't get me into trouble. At least not too much trouble.