Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Full Exposure

I typically shy away from almost any situation that involves what my mother used to call "tooting your own horn". By this I mean that I don't walk into a room and announce to the world--by the way, I'm an author. So I have to admit that I've found myself in some pretty unfamiliar territory of late after exposing myself in a college classroom.

No, no, get your mind out of the gutter! I do not mean that I whipped up my shirt to get some new Mardi Gras beads. What I did was encourage several individuals to pay a visit to my website. This should not be a big deal. And it wouldn't have been. Except that several of those individuals are so far outside of my target market that I think I might have taken their literary virginity. If there is such a thing.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not ashamed of being a romance author, or writing romance, or reading it, or loving it. I'm not ashamed of being fascinated by human interpersonal relationships and how we screw them up, fix them, and then screw them up again just for kicks. I love people. I love to try and figure them out. And the only thing I love more is creating a whole cast of characters who stumble and bumble their way through love and life just like real people do on a daily basis. Of course, the great thing about a romance novel is the HEA. That's right- for those of you NOT in the know, the Happily Ever After.

Having said that, I also respect the fact that not everyone I meet has any interest in the romance genre. I'm not talking about the millions of people worldwide who read romance voraciously and then deny it either, I'm talking about those who find it offensive or uncomfortable or simply distasteful. I might not agree with them, I might try to convince them otherwise, but they are entitled to their opinions.

Now, I can't be certain what category the latest visitors to my website fall into. They don't particularly strike me as haters, but there were several comments made in regards to my apparent preoccupation with love and romance. And many many comments made about the heat level of the excerpts on my website. Which, to some, might seem excessive. To others, that's called a teaser. The lesson here is that you can't please everyone, no matter what you do.

I suppose my conundrum is not the exposure of my identity (sounds like an overly dramatic plot twist, doesn't it?) The conundrum is that I felt exposed in a forum where I wasn't comfortable enough to wear both hats. I'm a student in that class, which happens to be a Communications course for my BA. I've had a few past experiences where creative writing professors have been unfriendly or even overtly critical of my papers once discovering I'd been published. One professor in particular was very harsh on the romance industry as a whole, and very derogatory in her assessment of my involvement in it. As an adult, I might feel inclined to argue my point and stand up for myself. As a student I'm well aware of who has total control over my grades.

For now, I still have several weeks of this class left to navigate. And once the initial discomfort wore off, I started to feel kind of liberated. Romance has a long history of social relativity and cultural importance. I'm proud to be a part of that. Writers push the boundaries of social convention by asking controversial questions or presenting uncomfortable topics in a fictional form that makes a reader think. So I think I'm done hiding now. Time to go for full exposure...

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