There is an author out there in the self-publishing world who is known only as the Tattooed Writer. In fact, this gentleman has four different pseudonyms and even his family members don’t know them.
I’m starting to see the wisdom of this.
There is a sense of freedom in being able to write whatever the hell you want without thinking of your mother – or anybody else you know – reading it. This is especially true of sex scenes. Though my books are far from erotica, I love to read and write romance and for me, a romance book with no sex is just boring. Romance novels run the gamut from being totally chaste (Christian romance, Amish romance, for example) to hardcore BDSM and erotica. My taste is somewhere in between. Erotica is far too graphic for my tastes and I can’t stand BDSM (it’s fine if that’s your thing, but ordering somebody around in the bedroom is about as unromantic as I could possibly imagine) but I love a good sensual scene in the middle of a sweet, romantic story.
Like all wonderful, supportive parents, my mother reads every word I write (including this blog. Hi Mom!!) but she confesses to skipping over the sex scenes. This is probably wise. Therefore, I suppose, that means I could write a sex scene a steamy as I please since she’s not going to read it anyway!
It’s more than just my mom, though. I need to come to grips with the fact that really nothing I write is targeted in any way toward my family and friends. My father reads a lot of nonfiction, including things like math books. We are very, very different in that regard, my dad and I…. My mother loves mysteries, specifically “cozy” mysteries, and rarely reads novels save for the ones her daughter writes. My sister enjoys nonfiction on various topics, as well as science fiction. Again, not a novel reader, and she is far too practical for silly romance stories (though she is really too kind to say this to me). My best girlfriend tends to read much more serious, hard-hitting literature. DEFINITELY not at all what I write. And my husband, my best friend, and favorite person in the whole wide world? He hates to read and has never read any of my books in its entirety.
The fact is, there *is* an audience out there for the unabashedly romantic and fantasy-escapism type of books that I love to read and write. Fortunately for me, romance novels tend to sell quite well. I just need to keep in mind as I’m writing that I need to write for my target audience and for myself. I write what I truly love, and I think you can actually feel that passion (and not just the sex stuff!) rising from the pages. When I’m truly “in the zone”, I live in my story practically 24 hours a day. When I wrote my Gettysburg ghost love stories, I listened to Civil War music, read books on Gettysburg, and listened to battle-related audio books in the car. My head was constantly spinning with character ideas, dialogue snippets, and plot twists. If I was conscious, you can bet I was thinking of my novel and the special people who populate it. I don’t have any desire to curtail the raw passion and emotion I feel when truly living in the story with my characters.
Though I am acutely aware that the subject matter and style in which I write likely holds little appeal to any of my family and friends, I am incredibly grateful for their unconditional support. I would feel hurt and slighted if they *didn’t* read my stuff (hear that, husband? Of course he doesn’t. He doesn’t read my blog, either. He is still very supportive though, including promoting my extremely gay debut novel to his friends. Now THAT’S love.)
I’m certainly not the only writer who has to worry about what loved ones might think of her work. Can you imagine what it’s like to be E.L. James’ mama? Fifty Shades of Red is more like it…
Just like the old bumper sticker says – Ride It Like You Stole It — I implore my fellow writers to write with all their passion, whatever that passion might entail. Write for your target audience and for nobody else. Write It Like Your Mama Won’t Read It, but like hundreds of readers will.
Family and friends be forewarned – I shall not censor myself! Read my novels at your own risk.
That being said, I do want to send out heartfelt thanks to my wonderful family and friends who read my books without fail and with unfettered enthusiasm, regardless of the weird, silly, and/or sexual plot.
Your support means more than you know.