I usually reserve my blog posts to be something about my life. Maybe something uplifting or humorous – something that makes you ignore the fact that my editor doesn’t preview my posts before I hit publish.
I like posting humorous things on Facebook. I like that on Twitter you can search a hash tag and its like a weekly game of twenty questions as we answer and go on about our day with our small note on the world. I enjoy being who I am, and I love interacting with my readers.
That being said I posted something on my wall that I want to address here:
Before I share with you what I posted let me tell you a little about me. I have been a victim of repeated rape. I once was in a relationship with a man who drove me into the woods and told me where he would kill me and that “no one would ever find my body” out there. I once had a job where a man came on so strong that I feared going to work. I would have co-workers taking bathroom breaks with me – I thought I would become a victim once again, so I quit. I also lost my job when a district manager of a subsidiary of Yum corp told me I couldn’t have my six month raise because I hadn’t earned my place even though I was coming in early, staying late, and was a team leader without the pay. He gave raises to the men. I walked out the day he approved theirs, but told me I hadn’t earned my place.
If you know me you know that walk out was dramatic… I took off my uniform top (I was wearing a tank under it) and threw it at him. I told him I had kids to raise and after being there for more than six months with rave reviews from the customers and everyone I worked with I had earned it. The two team leaders and manager quit the same day alongside me. All of them women as well who didn’t get raises.
I have found myself in a lot of situations that were not for the meek. I have been homeless and living in a car with a newborn until my mom found me and brought me home. I found myself dependent on an individual to live because he would take everything I had and keep it for himself. I found myself living in fear that I wouldn’t see my kids grow up because I would breathe wrong and someone I was around would take my life with their hands. I have found myself backed into a corner, fighting for my life, only to go to jail myself that night because he had a visible mark from his own fist that the cops saw. I found myself without a person to back me up except my parents when my best friend of sixteen years told me we couldn’t be friends anymore, and that she wouldn’t stand by me on the same day I received a notice that my ex wanted custody of my kids. At the time her husband worked alongside my ex, so I said I understood and walked away.
I’ve been abused.
I’ve been assaulted.
I’ve been sexually harassed.
I’ve been wrongfully accused.
I’ve been passed over for work and raises that went to a man.
I’ve been all these things, but no matter what I held onto my faith and my dignity. I lived this life where bad things were constantly happening, and I left that life behind. I found a way out and I took it. I don’t ever look back and regret how I got to where I am now. While I hate what I went through I will never regret coming out the other side stronger. It’s made me a better person because I know where my line in the sand is. I know what I am worth. You know what I don’t want to happen? For other people to endure the same. I wish I could wiggle my nose and erase it all. To make it where those kinds of things didn’t happen, but I can’t. What I can do is write a book with a story that for a couple of hours gives you a world to dive into that either doesn’t have this or does and the hero/heroine conquer it.
I live a poor to middle class life with a husband who adores me. With kids who I couldn’t be prouder of. I may never be able to afford to give them everything, but I can teach them that you can survive in this life by being strong. Every obstacle was a speed bump, but if you press the gas you will get over it and you may not have to rev as hard for the next one.
Now that you know my background, I want to address what I wrote because it is now covering my facebook wall with like-minded authors in agreement.
Inside Edition recently had a video with an author stating that they were re-writing books to show men who are more respectful and nice toward women. They were re-covering books to ensure that the men were also covered. They claim they are doing all these changes in light of the #MeToo movement.
Pay attention because those who were asked to interview (from what I have knowledge of) were all best sellers who became best sellers writing books that didn’t conform to standards they are trying to put out there now.
*I’m just a little nobody indie author – they don’t ask me to interview because I am opinionated, southern, have a big mouth, and don’t have a title with my name – so no, they don’t know I exist.
In light of the Inside Edition video on romance books I will say this:
As an author I do not want to go into a story with characters who are expected to be politically correct at all times, or conform to the way things are now because things change every single day. Today they want men covered up and rewritten to be respectful and nice at all times, but what happens when that isn’t enough and they need to remove what they consider sexual things on women like lipstick or nail polish or whatever they decide tomorrow is too much? Will authors have to continue to re-write every few months? Years? Decades? At that point it feels like censorship.
I have the loving respectful husband at home. I read to live vicariously through fiction. I read to dive into something that isn’t my own life. I write because I love it, and because it is my creative outlet. I don’t want to read my own life in a book when I am living it. I also don’t want my books to conform when they are works of fiction.
I won’t be rewriting anything. Having been a victim of the reason we all #MeToo and formed a movement I can say that there is a select number of things that bother me in books, but that is why we have trigger warnings in the book. I know if the book mentions something that I might have a bad reaction to then I just don’t read that book. I will never ask an author or expect them to rewrite their creative expression. No one would ask a nude artist to cover it up.
If women want to march for reasons I agree with then I will march. If people as a whole want to stand up for something I believe in I will stand with them, but I will not censor my work and change everything about my creative ways to conform to something we might change in a year (<- maybe, maybe not) and then be stuck with something that was written beautifully and then castrated through a political filter.
My characters will have sex. Sometimes I will have a shirtless man on my cover. My “men” won’t always be the picture perfect church clothes wearing upstanding gentlemen. However, I can assure you that as an author who respects the movement I will always have a trigger warning on a book when it is needed. I will always warn my readers that follow that something might be hard to read. I will always welcome discussion or messages from readers when there is something they feel strongly about and discuss it, but I won’t rewrite a thing.
What I wrote last year, last month, or what I write tomorrow will not be filtered because of the movement. We already have a sweet romance sub-genre, so what will this new one be? While I respect everyone both women and men who have endured things like I have I do not believe that fiction is a place to conform what is happening in real life.
Will I write a book about someone in the movement? Maybe.
Will I write books where the men are cookie cutter? No.
Will I write a book where a woman is abused? No.
Will I write a book where a man is abused? No.
If I ever write abuse you will not read it. It will always be after the fact or fade to black because we see it sometimes when we turn on the news, when we overhear people talking, when we see it out in public. I will never highlight the life as if that is a good thing, but I will not ignore it like it isn’t possible either.
I have read other blogs asking a question: “Are romance novels giving unrealistic expectations in relationships…?”
I have an answer, but its a slap in the face to those who said yes… NO, it doesn’t. Fiction books are not real. Fiction is NOT REAL. Do people want the lives in books? Yeah, sure who wouldn’t love to be in the middle of some of those stories. I know I would love to be fearless and go on a honeymoon to a hotel with no walls on a mountain. I would love to meet the man I am supposed to marry because I tripped chewing a piece of gum. I would love to be with a man where I didn’t have to worry how we would pay for braces because he has the world at his finger tips… The point is if you are reading a fictional book and you know its not real then why would it allow it to give you any expectations at all?
There are lots of things I won’t add to a story, and lots of things that could happen in real life that I will never write, but that said I won’t conform any story to the views of today either. Not because I don’t care, but because those views can change in a day, a week, a month, or a year. My books are not alpha men by industry standards, but the men are not church going or assholes either. The stories I write are about people who are relatable, not ones that are fluffed. I will not adhere to a politically correct standard when it is the standard of today and we are always evolving.
If I offend you with my choice not to change then I apologize, but as an author I have to be true to myself. Writing for purpose is not writing for pleasure. Just like writing for money (what money) is not writing for enjoyment. I do this because I love it. I do this because I can. I do this because I have readers who I love to make smile. I do this because I enjoy it. I do this because of the messages I get that say things like
“Your book helped me while I did my chemo today,” or “My grandmother died and I needed an escape on the plane ride to see my family. Jax [the character] made me smile with how he dealt with loss.”
I am tired of seeing post after post of authors being censored. It exhaust me to no end when people keep saying things like “we have to act this way because…” No, we don’t have to. We are allowed to be individuals and still support a movement. I am allowed to leave the copyright inside a book where there is a disclaimer that states it is fiction and none of it is real and that should be enough. When did we go from the land of the free to the home of the “you better not write that?”
I am that author that can say anything in a story, but when you see me at conventions I am counting my racing heart beats to ensure that I am okay. I have anxiety and PTSD from my past, but I still show up when I can. I still talk to my readers every time they message me. I am still me, that won’t change – neither will my stories – and I will still support the movement.
Now, my next post will return to our regularly scheduled upbeat post