So I’ve mentioned before that my next book, The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know (coming December 15th), includes some fairly explicit (but tasteful!) sex.
Honestly, except for a free safe sex story that I wrote as part of the Real Story Safe Sex Project, I haven’t written a lot of explicit sex in my day. I always considered myself a “fade to black” kinda writer.
But when I was mapping out The Thing I Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know, it quickly became clear that sex was part of the story. It’s about a 23-year-old gay guy looking for love; it just seemed dishonest not to include something about his sex life. I also liked the idea of doing something new and different — a writing challenge. (And, hey, I don’t mind if it sells a few books either.)
Maybe it’s because the sex is pretty organic to the story, but writing the sex scenes was actually very easy. Well, nothing I write is “easy,” but it was easier than I expected it to be.
The hard part? Worrying what people would think of me.
In the book, Russel Middlebrook does some somewhat “shocking” things (within the context of the story — again, all very tasteful). And Russel is at least a vaguely auto-biographical character.
Did that mean that people were going to assume I had done all the things that Russel does?
It turns out that erotica would be easy for me to write (because everyone knows it’s fantasy). Writing the sex life of a character that I hope very much with feel “authentic” is a lot harder.
But, of course, it’s exactly that authenticity that was how I knew it was so important that I write the sex. I won’t go so far as to say it can be “brave” to write about sex (because that sounds ridiculously pretentious). But it definitely felt right.
So am I still worried that people will make assumptions about me? Maybe a little. But hey, Russel is a fictional character; most people understand that. And, of course, my private life is my private life.
But mostly I’ve decided I just can’t think about that. It’s my job just to write the stories. I can’t control what other people think about them, or what conclusions they draw.