Yesterday, my mother-in-law asked me what my pen name was. Point blank. “What is your pen name?” How to answer that in a way that won’t lead her, a Christian Minister for most of her adult life, straight to the man-sex in my stories. With her looking me right in the eyes, I had no way out. I had to tell her. Or lie. And I’m not quite over the whole “you’re going to hell” thing enough to lie to a Minister. She commented that it was nicely gender neutral. Does she already know what I write? I don’t know. Nor do I know if she went home and promptly Googled me. I suppose some day, I might find out.
But it did get me thinking. Well. That and something a dear friend said to me in an email recently. And I quote:
“I get the distinct impression you are embarrassed.” (about what I write, is what he was referring to.)
So now I have to ask myself: Am I?
And if I am, why?
I bet I have a whole boatload of childhood psychological issues that point to why I’m convinced I’m not ‘good enough’, whatever passes for good enough, these days. Even though I can look at my writing, my parenting, my other creative endeavors and objectively see them as accomplished and successful, that little kid in me is still way too terrified to put herself out there and say “Look at me. See what I did. I tried hard and I did good.”
What does any of that have to do with the genre? Well, as I see it, writing gay romance has been a convenient shield. It has let me hide behind the genre and not claim my successes (and failures, I know, There have been a few of those too.) If I could point to the genre and convince people there are those in my life who would never accept it as an acceptable way to make a living, then I didn’t have to bother explaining how I really felt.
The only benefit to this that I can see is that I have, sometimes without realizing it, used those feelings in my writing, and nowhere is it more apparent than in “Fix This, Sir” in which my main character, Jimmy, has used any number of shields and crutches, including his own submissive tendencies, to hide from the real issues in his life. It isn’t until he meets his Dom, Cliff, and realizes that for once in his life, another person’s happiness matters more to him than his own pain, that he finally starts dealing.
So thanks to dear old mom-in-law and my good friend for pointing it out to me, I guess it’s time to stop hiding behind the genre myself, step up and be proud of what I do. It is, after all, a huge part of who I am.
Jimmy’s been hiding from his troubled past for a long time, in drugs, drink and dangerous sex. It’s always been easy to find oblivion in the restraints of men who don’t really care who he is or where he’s come from. When tragedy puts him in a wheelchair and forces him to fix his legs, and his life, he’s not so sure he has it in him to even try. Belligerence is the only weapon he has left.
Cliff is a physiotherapist with a big heart. And a dominant streak a mile wide. The instant Jimmy Phillips rolls into his clinic, he sees a submissive headed straight for self-destruction and every protective instinct kicks in. Ignoring the dangers of getting that intimately involved with a client, Cliff takes Jimmy under his wing and pries under the broken man’s guard. Getting behind the anger is a challenge the Dom in him just can’t ignore.
What he finds is so much more than he bargained for. Now that he’s reopened all of Jimmy’s old wounds, he’s not so sure he has what it takes to help his new submissive heal. All the control Cliff can muster can’t hold Jimmy’s crumbling world together, and now Cliff faces not just the loss of a sub, but his own fears that he was never worthy of Jimmy in the first place.