In so many ways I started this whole story thing on the wrong foot. And by "started," I mean almost at birth.
I've been thinking about what happened to Always Aroused Girl, a blogger who writes anonymously about her sex life, parenting and whatever else is on her mind. Her blog is entertaining and informative and quite frank. Her fundamentalist parents, who had been told not to go borrowing trouble and search for her work, did anyway, found it (or more likely, were tipped off by someone malicious) and confronted her recently in a really painful, horrible way.
I am luckier in that my parents aren't fundamentalists. But my mom is very sex-phobic, especially when it comes to me. My sexual nature came out at an early age, and she has been pretty freaked out by me ever since, even though I wasn't a high school slut or anything. (I would have been if I could have gotten over the deep sense of shame I carried around. I would have been much happier, I think, if I'd at least gotten to kiss someone a little. Nope. I was 18 before I even got that. I think maybe I held hands a couple times.)
And here's my problem: I tried to write fiction for 40 years, but I knew where my fiction would always arise from: My libido. It always starts from psycho-sexual stuff, even if there's no sex in the piece; it's always there, and easily spotted. (I couldn't even create a D&D dungeon without things getting a little...odd.) I would read what I wrote and think, "I can't let my mom see this." And for 40 years, I've been waiting for either my essential creative drive to change, which isn't going to happen, or my mom to die, so I could write. I really, really hated sitting here waiting for her to die so I could write. I mean, jeebus, what a creepy, sad thing to do. I love my mom. I love my mom to bits. She's a supportive, great mom. She just can't handle some aspects of who I am, and I accept that now.
And then, I had a life-changing event and almost died. I realized that my plan, waiting for mom to go first, might not work. I could precede her. And my stories would go untold, even to myself. That wasn't creepy and sad, it was just sad.
So I started writing late last year. And just as I had feared, all this sex stuff came pouring out. At first I thought, well, I must be an erotica writer. So I went and hung out with the erotica writers and quickly realized I'm not an erotica writer.
But the sex thing--the idea that my writing and any worth it might have completely revolved around sex--it stuck to me, or rather, I clung to it. I'm not sure why. Perhaps I'd held it all in for so long that I just couldn't see past it. Perhaps I was afraid no one would read it unless there was promised smut.
In any event, here I am. I've done a lot of the marketing of this site around the sexual aspects of the story. I'm beginning to think I'm doing it a disservice and that I'm not taking my own work seriously enough. I can tell you, I really do take it seriously; my friends and family can tell you I'm a crashing bore right now, this is all I think about. But somehow, when it comes to talking about what I'm doing, I feel a need to denigrate it. It's "just" a genre story. It's "just" a soap opera. It's "just" smut. And it's showing in the marketing.
I think I need to get off the wrong foot and get on the good foot. Ideas and thoughts appreciated.