“I have anxiety,” said every writer ever. I know, it’s pretty much a given. Writing and anxiety go together in a chicken-and-egg kind of way. I don’t know if one causes the other, but I do know that people who worry are master storytellers (like when you go over every permutation of “what if” on the broken record player inside your head).
I get really, really nervous about a lot of things (no duh, said everyone who ever met me). And I used to be extremely fearful of putting my writing out there. Not only was I afraid that people were going to judge my writing, I was afraid that they were going to judge me personally. “What kind of a person would write something like this?” the phantoms in my head would ask. But just because I’m writing about a character who’s obsessive-compulsive, that doesn’t mean that I’m counting the number of times I washed my hands today (just kidding, too many to count). And not that it should matter what people think of me anyway, but you know how it is when you worry. You just do. And while I still worry that people might judge my writing, I don’t worry anymore about them judging me. I stopped worrying about that after I wrote Awakenings: Eight Tales of Erotic Adventure from Two Amazing Worlds.
Yes, a person who worries incessantly about what other people think of him wrote a book of erotic fiction and put it up on Amazon. Frisky wizards, sexy aliens, that book has a little bit of everything in it. It’s crazy. It’s shocking and funny, too. And it was a blast to write. It doesn’t reflect on who I am as a person, except that I have a certain sense of humor. And do you know what happened when I released Awakenings?
Almost nothing. Now, I’m not talking about sales, though it’s probably no secret that I’m not a New York Times Best-Selling Author. I’m talking about personally. Even though I used a pen name, people knew. Of course, they knew, I told them! And those of them that read it liked it, or at least they said they did. People who weren’t into sexy stories knew about the content and just didn’t read it, and we even stayed friends! A few people on the internet seemed to like it, too. And that was it.
Let me give a little context here about the specific anxiety-story that I was telling myself. I was raised in a fundamentalist evangelical situation. I’m talking about the earth is 5000 years old, masturbation is a sin, being gay is a sin, premarital sex is a sin, playing Dungeons and Dragons is a sin, pretty much everything is a sin type of community. And I just knew they would find out what I wrote. I was waiting for a group of church elders to knock on my door one day and give me a come-to-Jesus talk (Lord knows it wouldn’t be the first time). But it never happened. No hate mail. Nothing. Maybe somewhere someone is praying for my soul, but if they are, I am unaware. And the feeling is liberating.
Awakenings came out a few years ago. I wrote erotic science-fiction and fantasy and no one judged me as a person, or if they did, they kept it to themselves! It was scary at first, but I’m over it now. And when I write stuff these days, I don’t worry about it anymore. Except, you know, that it might suck. But that’s a topic for another day. At least I’m not afraid to write what I feel like writing, and I think that’s important. You may not think it’s fun to write sexy stories like I do, but I’ll bet there’s something that you’ve been holding back. And you might be surprised that nothing really happens when you finally let it out.
Photo Credit: https://unsplash.com/search/fear?photo=M5-v6gGwoj4