I Get Shy Talking About My Writing… And it’s not why you think.
Right, you’re reading this probably because you’ve read my stories and after that might’ve followed me on social media or happened upon this site. Chances are we know each other at least loosely, indirectly. I have zero self awareness on this issue, so I’m not sure if you’d find what comes next surprising, or if I am way more obvious than I thought…
The idea of telling people what I write about makes me feel weird and icky inside. I get a sort of ticklish sensation right above the stomach, sometimes higher up in my chest, which grows into an uncomfortable pressure of varying intensity. This sensation tells me that I’d like to just say what I’m about to say, but preferably not while I’m still standing in front of you (whether literally or figuratively).
I’d like to find the right words, write them down and leave you a note. Then I could run away while you read and understand it so I don’t have to deal with any feedback or risk getting nervous and blurting it out all wrong. These instincts are very inconvenient in a time when writers are supposed to be their own best spokespeople; I can’t afford to end up in a crowd and answer the question with a whispered: “Oh, just some stories, no big deal. Tell me about yourself instead!”
I’ve tried saying I write Erotic Romance which is true enough, but doesn’t feel quite right to me. Another possibility is to say I write ‘Romance with sex’, which is essentially the same but makes me feel like I’m about to be misunderstood and lost between the imagery of rapey alpha male knights and innocent maidens with heaving bosoms. I’d like you to understand, I really do, I just don’t want to have to open up enough to make it happen.
It’s not the sex. I don’t really give a shit about the fucking, the crude language, the cum stained sheets or used condoms that might feature in some of my stories (Mental note: must include cum stains in a future story, that would be hilarious); these things don’t embarrass me. Sex is easy, fun, quite acceptable even.
What gets me tied in knots is that I write about people who are real to me: strange, awkward people with fears and worries and hang-ups that often don’t even need to exist. Secretly, I like them better the more fucked up they are, which to me is quite a horrible thing to admit because it reeks of Schadenfreude. Then I try to justify it by giving those same people a happy ending with lots of fireworks along the way. My absolute favourite thing in the world is to watch (and write about) an underdog ending up on top.
Is that strange? Probably not, if one is to believe expressions like “everyone loves an underdog”. So why do I worry so much about how people will react? I’m not even that bothered about the sorts of people who think the character in question is weak and would prefer a confident type who swoops in with all the answers and the Great Handbook of Sexual Technique memorised beginning to end. Quite the opposite: what worries me the most is for someone to come up to me and say: “What made you think you could take a person / scenario / characteristic like this and use it for entertainment and profit. You’ve made me look and feel like an asshole because of it. How dare you!”
I think it’s because growing up I’ve always felt like an underdog myself. While the popular kids would reject me, I could count on solidarity from the other “outcasts”: I was never truly alone. And it would be a tragedy if something I did made another person feel worse somehow, even if it was unintentional. I’d prefer if it were the opposite actually, but that would make me sound all pretentious, so rather than admit to that, I’d prefer to sit quietly in the crowd, observing and keeping my thoughts to myself… Unless I have something funny to say.