In Serein

No Sensitivity Readers For In Serein

by Silvia Hartmann

No Sensitivity Readers For In Serein

It's March 2023, and that's 23 years since I sat down and started to write the first words of In Serein. The topic of the day is "sensitivity readers" who go through real writer's manuscripts and change the words so nobody gets upset for any reason. So I decided to update the health & safety warnings on the index page of this site.

No sensitivity readers

2023 Note: The contents of this trilogy have not been sensitivity checked or adjusted.

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As a writer, this is a hill I'm willing to die on.

A story is a flow of information, and when you disrupt that flow of information, you are left with a garbled mess that makes no sense any longer, that doesn't produce "emotions" any longer, that becomes impossible to be loved.

It becomes mean, nasty and small minded, lacking both art and magic, and that's exactly the problem with current culture which has lost its way.

Beware The Editor! Drawing by Silvia Hartmann

For a long time now, I have taken the stance that no "editor" gets to mess with my words, or tell me that this or that should be deleted or changed.

As a writer, I put my words on the page EXACTLY like I want them to be, in the right order and sequence as I decide they should appear.

Someone who isn't me doesn't have a clue and cannot possibly argue with me.

In Serein is, in that sense, entirely unedited.

It comes back and back to this:

A scribe came sometime later, a nice young, very young man, pale he was, his hair unusual and nearly white and his fingers long and fine, stained with ink. He was very reverend and not a little scared of me and I told him that it wasn’t so important that his spelling should be accurate nor his letters in perfection, but that he should try and keep up and take down my words as I would speak them, try and keep them as I would speak them even if they didn’t always make sense, and not to get in the way or guess what it was that I might have meant.

He was an earnest thing and he promised me with his hand on his heart that he would do his best. 

Don't mess with the words. It doesn't matter if some editor thinks they can do better or improve on my words, or some sensitivity reader decides they need to protect some reader from the pain they would experience if they read what I have written.

It's the same thing.

It is also the same thing if some older version of the same writer picks up that red pen to "edit" what another aspect, in a different time and space, had to say.

All of it is sacrilege.

Put your words on the page. Then stand by your words.

That's all.


Silvia Hartmann

March 1st, 2023

  by Silvia Hartmann