Saturday, April 3, 2010

Things That Are Secret

I want to share something personal with you folks, but first I need to digress briefly into my understanding of  the differences between privacy and shame. Privacy is when you conceal something for your own protection. Shame is when you conceal something you know (or think) you've done wrong. Privacy is critical to living a healthy life in a hostile world. Shame is not; in fact, it's detrimental. I like to use clothing as my basis of comparison. Wearing clothing to protect your private parts from harm is healthy. Wearing clothing because you are ashamed (or at least embarrassed) of your body is not.

On that note, I have always liked to think that I am good at keeping portions of my life private without being ashamed of them. After reading the biography of an old college friend, I have had cause to rethink whether that is really true. In particular, although this blog deals with my writing, I have chosen to omit a significant fact. I thought at first I was protecting my privacy, but the more I think about that, the sillier it sounds. Simply put, the people who read this blog are either complete strangers or they are my best friends. The former don't know who I really am, and the latter know me well. The point being that, within certain limits of taste, I can say pretty much anything here.

Unless I'm ashamed (or at least embarrassed).

I don't think that's healthy.

So here goes. Let's do this in two parts.

First: I am a published author. Not famous, but published, and by published I mean I have published stories in real magazines that were then reprinted in real books by major publishers. I've even had stories blurbed for the inside front cover of a couple of "best of" collections.

Now you'd think I would be pretty proud of that, and I thought I was.

But I've never mentioned that fact here. In fact fewer than five people even know.

And that really doesn't sound like "proud" to me.

Which brings us to the second reveal:  The stories are sexually explicit.

Now, it is understandable that I want to keep my sexual writing separate from my real name. But this blog is not under my real name. Furthermore this blog is supposed to be about my writing, so neglecting to mention that I've actually been published is a pretty grievous sin of omission.

So the uncomfortable truth that I have now accepted is that I must have been embarrassed about what I wrote.

I don't want to be anymore.

So there, now it's out there.
A brief post-script.

I guess I should further confess that I am an ex-erotic writer and also pretty much an ex-published author all together. There are two reasons for this.

First of all, I ran out of things to say about sex, and I've found it difficult to sell other things. While writing erotica is not a stigma to writing other fiction, it's also not a stepping stone. So far no editor has said "Wow, your porn was reprinted by Little, Brown & Co? Let's give this new story a second look."

Second, after being a "successful" short story writer, I came to accept that there are other things that I am better at that also pay better. I am not Harlan Ellison (some of you are grateful for this). In particular I cannot write Hugo and Nebula award winning fiction over the course of an afternoon while sitting in a shop window. Even though I write regularly, a short story takes me months and, if published, pays a few hundred dollars at best. That's fine for a hobby, but nuts as a career choice.