On the Defensive
Updated: Jan 2
If you've been around, you know how passionately I feel about the genre of Romance--both reading it and writing it. In fact, I've written two other blog posts about it--"Why Romance" and "In Defense of Reading Romance and What the Fantasy Is." I'm still quite proud of them and believe fully in what I expressed.
I have found, however, that a number of people in my life who have expressed nothing but support over the year and a half of my writing career did not mean it and have spent all of that time judging me. Judging me behind my back while continuing to pretend to be supportive to my face. I imagine hearing that would have been devastating, no matter when it came up, but dealing with such a shift just before the release of what will likely be my final publication of 2022 has been incredibly difficult.
It's hard to do the necessary advertising and promotion for a book I'm very proud of when I know everything I post is being judged with my worth attached to it. I'm struggling to want to talk about "The Wrong Brother" even though I love the book so much and can't wait for readers to get their hands on it because everything has been tainted. It's almost funny because this is the very reason I held off for so long in the beginning, keeping the fact that I had written 6 books a secret. As I said in that first blog post:
"For a while, I was too scared to tell anyone. It wasn't because I wasn't proud or didn't think they were very good, though. It was because I'm so happy with the work and the end results and I simply don't have it in me to deal with anyone else's bullshit anymore. I didn't have the energy to refute the nonsense that romance isn't "real" reading or is just "mommy porn" or garbage lit. I didn't want to have to think about people looking at me differently because of what I wrote. I get preemptively angry just thinking about it. For one, I know the people that never had a problem with me reading Stephen King at 12 would 100% judge me for writing romance. Because swearing and sex is fine as long as there is also violence, death, and the absolute worst of humanity. But if you have those two things in a story about growing emotionally with someone and pushing past life's obstacles to grab your happy ending, then it's trash. Makes sense, right?"
Looks like I wasn't wrong to keep things to myself. I even debated publishing under a pen name for quite a while but was persuaded that I should be proud of my work and not hide behind a fake name. Now I wish I had gone with my first instinct.
Here's the thing: I completely understand everyone has their own comfort level. I fully support that. If my books aren't for you, no big deal. I am in no way hurt by hearing that a friend doesn't feel good reading my books, even if they're happy I've found something I enjoy doing. It's not my place to dictate what you feel comfortable reading or watching or listening to. I've also always felt it's not my place to judge you for those things. I would never discuss with other people my feelings on your personal level of sins or question your relationship with God because you watch shows on HBO that make me uncomfortable or consume a lot of media about murder, violence, and crime.
My feelings on reading and writing romance haven't changed. My personal relationship with God hasn't changed. I don't struggle with being a horrible person because I write or feel that I've "abandoned reality to live in a sexualized fantasy world of literary porn that I've created." (Yes, that's a direct quote, an actual real thing lobbied at me.) But people who have been incredibly important to me do feel that way about me.
So what do I do? I genuinely don't know. It has been presented to me that the only way I can be seen and accepted as "being on the right path" is to stop writing. And if I refuse it's not because of a difference of opinion, it's because I'm wrong and obstinate. I don't know how to hold my head high and show that I'm not ashamed of who I am or what I've published because, right now, I'm broken.
I have a book, "The Wrong Brother," coming out in a week and I love the characters and their story. I hope my readers love it too. And I hope someday soon I'll feel like I can share, even knowing what's going on around me.