Why I Never Cuss (but wish I did)


I wish I could cuss, dammit.

I hope this doesn’t cause a terrible scandal, but, I think moderate cussing is punchy and effective sometimes. I am therefore not against it, in its place. I am just slightly disappointed that I never can find a place for it. I am waiting for the day when I can justify using the F word out loud. “Won’t it be satisfying?” I tell myself, “won’t it be delightfully shocking?”. But every time I wonder if it is the time and place for it, I always find a better way of saying what it is I want to say. Which can be deflating.

In my writing, I will occasionally insert a mild cuss word or two just to test it out. But in my effort to be completely honest in my writing (it is only an effort, to be clear), I always find myself erasing it in the editing process. And I say that with some regret, because cussing is more fun. I think “hell” an especially fun, and barely-offensive word that can be very effective. I would argue that it should be taken out of the “bad word” box but then there would be no satisfaction in saying it. I would be more inclined to promote its becoming an even worse word, to make it all the more desirable.

I find that in all creative pursuits, there is usually a shortcut that is more enticing. But when I ask myself if there is a better way, there usually is. And oftentimes that makes me mad. Mad enough to cuss, in fact. I don’t not cuss because I think cussing is evil. I don’t cuss because I am a recovering perfectionist. I know a sentence cannot reach perfection, just as I cannot. There will always be a better way, so why can’t I just lower the bar for myself just a little bit, and allow the occasional cuss word to stay?

“Don’t use words too big for the subject. 
Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very;” otherwise you’ll have no word left 
when you want to talk about something really infinite.” 
-C.S. Lewis

I have found that in writing, a little extra discipline can take the fun out of it but in the end, makes the finished product more articulate. In this instance, I am okay with being a recovering perfectionist. But secretly, I am waiting for the day when I can leave a cuss word in, and think to myself, “this is complete. It cannot be improved.” I do think that day will come, if I wait patiently for it.

What is your take on cussing? I would love to know. Do you cuss on a regular basis? Do you never cuss? Do you think this post is nuts? If you do, you probably aren’t a perfectionist, and I admire you for that.

P.S. More confessions of a recovering perfectionist…

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