Oops. What if they find out?

I’m a pretty reserved person. Let’s all take a moment and wait for my family and friends to stop laughing.

laugh

Right.

Now, I’m someone who toes the line, who tries to be politically correct and is very careful not to offend anyone. Sometimes it’s unintentional – I’m a Sagittarius after all. So in real life I’m careful about what I talk about, but writing strips away all those barriers and I think I’m more real in my writing then in reality and that’s a frightening concept.

There are some stories that I’ve written that make me nervous. The content I’ve written about is quite heavy and sometimes hard to read. In my first book I write about Layla, who’s a domestic violence survivor, being stalked by her abusive ex-boyfriend. It was difficult to write, because it’s confronting and honestly I felt drained after writing certain scenes. Even when I go back and read them, I leave a little piece of myself behind. It’s supposed to be that way, I never want to read or write something about abuse and be able to wave it off and dismiss it. That’s when I know it’s time to stop.

I want to be affected by the events I write and I want my readers to be affected by them too. I want them to learn from it and understand that these things are happening every day to ‘normal’ people, at the hands of men and women who are supposed to love them. But to go to these places it takes some mental preparation, because I know it’s a piece of myself out on the pages. Most times I’ve never been in the situations that I write about, and I’ve had people ask me if it’s about my personal experience. It’s often not.

My books also have sex in them. Let’s not beat around the bush on this one. I can’t write a romance without a heavy slathering of sex. It is an integral part of the experience of falling in love. I know, I could gloss over it and write in euphemisms and flowery language but I don’t, because as heavy as some of the dark writing is, the good parts, the parts that rescue the character’s soul need to be as raw and powerful as the heavy stuff. So it can be in detail and I know that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.

One of the things that stopped me putting my writing out there, is that I was afraid what people would think about the content I write about. I certainly wouldn’t have conversation with someone about sex, in the way that I write and describe it in my books. Gosh, no.  I think I’ll end it here with a quote from Elizabeth Gilbert in Big Magic,

“You’re afraid of being exposed as a hack, or a fool, or a dilettante, or a narcissist. You’re afraid of upsetting your family with what you may reveal. You’re afraid of what your peers and coworkers will say if you express your personal truth aloud.”

Yes, to all of the above. Do you? Is fear about what you create holding you back from making something wonderful?

Come on over and friend me on Facebook at Lisa Lancaster.
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53 thoughts on “Oops. What if they find out?

  1. I understand (I’m also a Sagittarius so we’re like soul sisters LOL). I want to tell everyone what I’ve experienced in my blog, but I am writing under a pen name, because I don’t want my mother’s family to offended or hurt their feelings, but I want to tell my story of the abusive that I lived with as well! It is hard to deal with the emotions, but also probably therapeutic, I cry sometimes while I’m writing my posts so I share your pain!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello and welcome. I’ve been very fortunate that what I write is fiction. I’m glad that the writing is a release for you and I’m sorry that you’ve had to live it. If it helps you through it then do it anyway that you can.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you so much Lisa! My blog is new, so it’s just the tip of the iceberg with much more to come, but I do love sharing my story!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree 100 percent. I use a pseudonym, pen name, for those reasons. I slowly allow people to know this side, but I don’t just open up my work for full review by family and co-workers. For one, I’m still not sure if the stuff I write is engaging enough or polished enough for someone to read it and not go, “Geez. I’m sorry, I can’t make it through. The wording and structure – atrocious. The story, boring.” I trust the WordPress comments, but I also know there is a general level of shared respect amongst bloggers for attempting to do this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I am seriously thinking about a pen name. I have quite a serious job – IRL – and this side of my life wouldn’t really be accepted. Only a small amount of people have read my manuscripts because it’s much more confronting to hear someone I love, dislike something, when compared to a blogger. I can take emotion out of it if a blogger has criticism but a family member of friend, it’s much harder.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Go for it Lisa! 🙂 We have a wide imagination and you’re very gifted to be able to put into words your thoughts… In my opinion, we can write anything about anything and we may put a part of ourselves into our writings, but it shouldn’t be a measure of who we are… Do I make sense when I say, a part of us is what we write, but what we write is not us? Lol…. Guess the only problem is that other people could be judgmental. But I guess that’s the challenge for writers…what matters more to you? To be able to write what they want to read, or for them to read what you want to write? Whichever the case, know and believe that you’re amazing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  5. What a lovely post. I so appreciate how your authenticity is in your writing – that is self-honoring and a blessing.
    I’m sharing my voice in relationship, through forgiving connects, and via my work with my spiritual org. Doing my best to keep learning, growing and being real!!
    Many blessings to you Lisa — Debbie

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Great post, Lisa! And very valid points. I think every writer can relate to this at some point in their lives, and maybe beyond that, every artist can relate. But I also think that we would never truly be satisfied with our own work unless we are writing or creating the art we want to create, traumatic scenes or not. So I hope you will continue to write what YOU want to write, even if others don’t approve, because you’re not writing for them, you’re writing for you 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. Hey Lisa. I understand how you feel. My family is Christian background, but I have always loved reading romance books and I think good sex scenes are pretty integral to a book that has an element of Romance. It’s embarrassing to think about your family reading them, what they’ lol say, but it’s your book and writing means saying what you need, not what your Mom or Sister thinks (unless they’re part of a character). It bothered me but I gave in and ended up with a couple great sex scenes. It brings the characters closer and are necessary. Best of luck!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think you just have to go for it. People will either adjust or not. It’s like you said, there has to be a certain level of discomfort when reading about abuse and sex scenes have to be hot or why bother? This is why fiction is so awesome to read but difficult to write. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I’m kind of weird. I enjoy posting my stories on my blogs (ambroseandelsie, cosistories, and this one), even though everyone in the world can read them.

    Yet, if I get caught writing at work, I get all “Aaahhh! Nothing! Nothing! Cover it up with random papers! There is nothing going on over here!” Which, like I said, is just weird. I don’t write anything overly graphic, no sex scenes or anything like that.

    My one off-line story does involve a character who’s gone through some traumatic abuse from childhood and he has several scenes where he discusses the abuse. So, yeah. I’m not ashamed of that story, but I would get all nervous about showing it to my family members. I’d be smiling like -> 🙂 but just sweating everywhere.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I can so relate to this post, Lisa. I was physically sick while writing the first draft of my darkest book – a four-month case of the flu, and so dehydrated I developed a heart murmur! The book also has the most graphic sex because, like you, I needed the love to match the intensity of the violence. I think your instincts are good, and I like that you don’t gloss over the reality of abuse. Your readers will have a visceral response to your book and that’s what you want. Marketing is uncomfortable, yes, and I still feel compelled to warn potential readers about the “grittiness” of my book. There are readers who don’t like it, return it, complain about it, but they’ve been warned, and I don’t expect everyone to like everything I write anyway. The positive reviews by people who were moved by the story will make up for it tenfold. Go for it. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I had to grow out of letting fear take over. It doesn’t hinder me anymore. I shook that baby in my late 20s as it pertains to writing. I had to. It was eating me alive to write what others wanted me to write only. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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