Self-censorship begins when writers submit articles, book manuscripts, and scripts to editors and pr…

Self-censorship begins when writers submit articles, book manuscripts, and scripts to editors and producers who reject them or demand modifications. Often, there are good reasons. In the print media, it’s known as editing; in television and film, it’s known as notes, which could come from any of several dozen places, including executives whose only creative thought may have been to add non-dairy creamer to their cappuccino. Many times, rejection is based upon personal beliefs and news values of the editors, disguised by such comments as We regret that your manuscript doesn’t meet our needs at the present time or This area doesn’t seem to work. Whatever the reasons agents, editors, and producers have, after enough rejections or requests to delete or modify portions of a manuscript, writers learn what is and isn’t acceptable. Soon, writers become socialized to the system, adapting to the wishes of editors. Self-censorship extends to lunches and dinner receptions, gyms and golf courses, where writers, agents, editors, and owners mix to discuss everything from other writers, agents, editors, and owners to the world economy. Those who travel in the power circles of their sources learn and internalize the norms, no matter how independent they believe they are; those who maintain their independence, or can’t afford to be a part of a power-elite, are forever knocking on doors that never open.

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