You’re a published author and you’re at a writer’s conference, mingling with your peers when someone asks the question, “So what do you write?” You say erotic romance, and receive a look that makes you feel like you’ve just admitted to a pastime of killing babies. Among certain groups, admitting to writing horror isn’t much better. As a matter of fact, admitting you write commercial fiction is often perceived as tantamount to selling your soul to the prince of darkness. The people staring down their noses at you are writers of “literary” fiction.
Any time I’ve had one of these experiences I’ve often wondered where the disgust comes from. Yeah, I write commercial fiction, yeah, I write about sex and I’m awfully good at it, why do you have a problem with what I do? Is there really one type of fiction that is better than another type of fiction? There are millions upon millions of readers out there, all searching for a great book that will take them on a journey. And they don’t all enjoy reading the same genre.
For years I wrote under the pseudonym of Adrienne Kama and I did well. I had a bestselling series, then sold to Ellora’s Cave, one of the top publishers of erotic fiction. But Author Shame was something that dogged me. For obvious reasons my friends with kids couldn’t have any of my books out in the open–they had to be hidden in closets. I couldn’t tell anyone at church what I wrote. What would they think of me? What would my co-workers think? Author Shame was something I battled. Back in 2006 an editor from NAL contacted me (yes, contacted ME) about writing a book that consisted of a series of erotic romance novellas, but by that time my Author Shame was so bad I couldn’t adequately focus on the project…and I lost the deal. Stupid mistake.
Today, I write novels the way they need to be written. As my mom says, I’m not writing Heather Elizabeth King’s story, but the story of my characters. Sometimes they swear (I don’t swear so this was something I had to make peace with long ago, too! lol), sometimes they murder, and sometimes they have sex. I realize that if I’m going to be a writer I have to be fearless when it comes to telling a story. I have to be genuine. I have to kick Author Shame to the curb. I’m accountable to God, nobody else.
If there’s something that you enjoy doing (and it doesn’t hurt anyone) and you do it well, don’t let anyone shame you out of doing it. This is your life. You only get one. Don’t be afraid to live!