The risks of living my author life in the open
Earlier this week, I tweeted a tweet.
Had my first job interview in 13 years today. It started with “I write gay romance novels.” and ended with “Can you come in on Friday to meet the owner?” I’m feeling pretty positive about these people.
— Allison Temple (@allitemplebooks) June 5, 2018
It got more retweets and likes than almost anything else I've ever tweeted. I didn't mean to, but I think I hit on a Writer Twitter nerve. So many of us write on the side, in our spare time, our stolen moments. Or we write out in the open, but under the cover of a pen name, an online persona. Writers, especially a lot of the queer writers and the writers of queer fiction, that I know, live in fear that Facebook will inadvertently recommend their author profile to a friend or family as someone 'you might also know'. Writers are afraid, while secretly dreaming of sharing our writing lives with friends and family who accept it without blinking an eye.
I've never been shy about my writing, not with family or friends, and less and less these days with strangers. Sometimes I meter the explanation to people I don't know as well, going with 'my first book is a romance about a single dad who falls in love with his daughter's teacher' and leaving them to assume as they will whether that teacher is male or female. More and more often though, I just lead with 'I write gay romance novels' and let the chips fall. Most of the time, people smile and nod, and then we move on. Sometimes I meet people like my new banker. You just never know.
I'm lucky, that I live in a place where I can say these things and not be judged too harshly. The worst that happens is people say 'oh, that's not really my thing.' No one shames me, or prays for my soul. I'm lucky.
But with my openness and good fortune comes a few awkward moments and jokes at my expense. Like when my mom told me she loved The Pick Up, but that she skipped over Chapter 25 because 'I didn't really need to read that.'
Or last night, when my childhood best friend told me that she had 'a fun week' the week she read Chapter 25. And that her mom also had 'a fun week' the week she read Chapter 25.
(Author's note. I encourage you to read Chapter 25. In fact, I encourage you to read all of The Pick Up. I can't promise anything is revolutionary, but sometimes delayed gratification makes everything better, if you know what I mean.)
Or, even better, is the fact that my childhood best friend's mother is my mother's best friend (got that? I made you a Venn diagram below if you get confused).
That motherly best friend thinks it's hilarious that my mother avoided Chapter 25 for the sake of her...I don't even know? Dignity? Morality? This best friend found it so hilarious, in fact, that her family has adopted it in day to day conversation.
"Shh. We mustn't talk about Chapter 25."
"We agreed not to bring up Chapter 25."
I didn't know this was an author goal I had—to become the foundation for a family's inside joke—but now that it's happened, I'm kind of tickled.
We don't talk about Chapter 25.
Telling people about your work is scary, but sometimes the payoff is worth it.
Also, for those of you wondering, I totally rocked that interview :)