It goes without saying that this has been a really, REALLY hard time for basically everyone on earth. We’re all stuck, literally and figuratively—moored in our homes, the progress of our lives halted. I recently wrote about losing my job due to the pandemic, and the relief I felt from the simple act of putting words on the page made it clear that writing was the only thing that would keep me sane through all of this.
But I knew I needed to work on something new—something completely different from the multiple manuscripts on my laptop that have racked up dozens of rejections over the years. Those, in my mind, were symbols of the same sort of thing I was currently experiencing: stasis and failure.
I knew what I wanted to work on. Romance novels had been calling to me for a long time. The first book I ever read with explicit sex in it was Judy Blume’s Wifey, which I stole from my mom’s little library when I was about fifteen and read with the door closed, hiding it under my bed whenever I left my room. There was a lot I didn’t understand about that book at the time. But one thing that hasn’t changed between then and now is the instinct to read such books in private. Ebooks have made it a lot easier to read these lascivious tales when and where we want, no closed door or stuffing-under-the-pillow required. But if anyone were to ask me (pre-pandemic) what I was reading on the train, I still would have had a smooth lie ready to go.
I don’t think I’m alone in my puritanical upbringing, my childhood devoid of any discussions about sex or sexuality. It’s a fairly standard American thing—being raised on abstinence, carrying this odd shame with us into adulthood, discovering various forms of sexual entertainment, enjoying them, but never uttering a word to anyone about it. I’m not sure what the actual fear consists of. Am I afraid people will think I’m less intelligent or less morally upright if I admit to enjoying reading erotic literature? Or is it just a lifetime of shapeless anxiety tsk-tsking me inside my head?
Regardless, I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking about what I want to do next, and how I’m afraid to do it. But then, last month, the incomparable Janelle Hanchett hosted a virtual writing workshop in which she was asked about how she overcomes her fear. Her response was simple: I’m still afraid. But I have lost faith in fear as a reliable guide for my life.
It was everything I needed to hear.
So, because my fears are often so unreliable, I’m writing romance. And there is sex. And I will be afraid of what people think. And I will do it anyway.
Because the greater fear I have right now is what will I do if I don’t write it? What will I do while I wait to see what’s next? And how long will I be waiting?
I want light, and fun, and no way to back out of it if I panic (which I will). So I’m serializing my first adult romance novel on Wattpad and will—hopefully—be updating it with a new chapter each week.
Read. Enjoy. Share, or keep it to yourself. No shame either way.
A Terrifying and Beautiful Place: