Yesterday on the phone, Mom said: I have a confession to make. Promise you won’t be mad at me?
Me: I love you unconditionally, even when I’m angry with you. (It’s something she had told me many times over when I was a child.)
Mom: Okay, well, I did some sleuthing and I figured out what your pen name is.
Me: I knew it!
Mom: And I bought the book and read your story.
Mom: I knew it was you when I read about the cats.
Me: I had to give them a cameo.
Mom: It’s quite well written, actually.
Me: It was an incomplete first draft.
When I decided to write sex fiction as Melina Greenport, I planned to keep it secret from everyone my real life except my husband. But the more I invested myself in the art, the more I felt guilty participating in the stigma. How could mainstream culture ever grow if writers like me participated in hiding? Still, I hid.
Before long, I figured it’d be fine talking about writing erotica among friends as long as my family never found out. Then eventually, amid the excitement of holding my published words in print in Barnes & Noble, I let the existence of my pseudonym seep out on social media. I figured it’d be fine as long as my family never knew my alias.
Expert editor and author, Rachel Kramer Bussel makes a good point on the topic. To paraphrase, a writer should do whatever is necessary (regarding a pen name) in order to continue writing. So if that means remaining anonymous, so be it. I thought I fell into that category.
And yet, for some subconscious reason, I made the mistake of sending my parents a photo of myself reading at a bookstore last week, the SKYLIGHT banner bold behind me. It was the kind of error I don’t normally make. I can’t be fully irritated with anyone other than myself. Apparently some part of me (however repressed) wanted to stop hiding (at least, from my parents).
Yesterday, when Mom told me she’d read my story in Best Women’s Erotica of the Year (Vol. 2), I didn’t dare ask if Dad had read it. (I’m going to imagine he did not.) I didn’t dare ask if she’d read the stories here. (I’m going to imagine she did not.) Even though my stories are fiction and even though sex isn’t anything to be ashamed of, the parameters of privacy remain complicated. Fully understanding my hang ups would take more time than I’m willing to offer the mission these days. I guess a silver lining of having a the worst president in U.S. history is that my idea of “worst nightmare” is redefined.
So now I will discover whether or not I can write sexually explicit stories knowing that Mom will seek them out. I won’t tell myself it’s going to be impossible. Nor do I think it will be easy. I’m definitely out of my comfort zone. Which means I’m growing, and that can only help my work improve.
General Update: The lack of activity here in recent months is due to my slow recovery from the election results, as well as renewed focus on submitting work for publication. I hope to find a way to post more regularly in the future. Thank you, always, for stopping by.