Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Sexual Pervisity in New York

There's a danger in writing about fictional sex and romance for a living (well, an aspiring living): not just the danger that people will think the incidents you write about are biographical. That's to be expected. No, the greater danger is that people will assume sexual experiences you haven't written about are yours, too. Let me explain...

I recently became a staff writer for a startup literary magazine, Lost Writers. I'm writing in several different departments: Sex & Relationships, Travel, Reviews. My first piece, a look at aspects of my relationship with my fiance, went up last week in the S&R section, and I e-mailed several friends and family members about the article.

Unfortunately, by the time some of my more laggardly acquaintances checked out the link, the editors of Lost Writers had switched the featured content in the Stay In Bed department. Instead of my personal essay on being in an interfaith relationship at the holidays, my friends read 23 haikus about Cynthia Taylor's former sex partners.

And yet, several people (including one of my sisters) e-mailed me to say, "Love the piece. Is Cynthia Taylor your new pseudonym?"

What? Excuse me? You people, who have known me for years, thought that this piece was mine? When would I have found the time to have 23 sex partners? I've been in a monogomous relationship for the last 5 years! Do you honestly think I've dropped acid? Dated a felon? Slept with my best friend's husband?*

Either they assumed the piece was fiction...or writing romance can really wreak hell on your reputation.

*As a clarification, let me say I enjoyed Ms. Taylor's writing very much, found it funny and worthwhile. This is not meant in any way as a comment on her experiences, fictional or not. Live and let live, and all that.


Toasty Joe said...

I must add that I did not enjoy Ms. Taylor's column, found it obnoxious, and was appalled at her decision to not only nail her friend's husband, but to essentially brag about it on the internet for all to see. The whole column had sort of a "look at me....I'm kinky! I had a threesome! I screwed a junkie! A college professor! Look at me!" kind of feel to it. How is this literature? Here's hoping I don't run into her at the launch party.

Having said that, I am glad that Ms. Taylor is not the Flitgirl's psyuedonym - I was about to run out and get tested for every disease in the book.

Flavia said...

Re: Your holiday heartache
Two words: Shiksa. Goddess.
Listen to it (from Jason Robert Brown's faboo musical The Last Five Years). Live it. Love it.
The Big F.

Kate D. said...

On the flipside...

In college I attempted to write a romance novel with some friends. It was a lovely, hilarious experience that I may actually post about at some point. Basically, we were writing a trilogy ala Nora Roberts, with three heroines. We decided to each write a sex scene...

And I remember giving the comment, "Okay, this is where your personal experience ends and blushing imagination takes over."

Kate D. said...

I believe Jennifer Crusie also said something rather amusing about all the people who ask her if she "researches" her own sex scenes. Her standard smart quip is, "Yes I do, but it's so hard to type one-handed."