Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Problem of the Parents

I'm taking time out from furiously typing out the stampeding ideas of my WIP "B" to bring you this little tidbit.  It was inspired by some texts I just received from my dad.

Dad:  Hi daughter... how is you?  How is the book coming?  Hope it has a happy ending.  Can't believe it me daughter is writing a book!

(Note: He is not a leprechaun, despite that particular use of "me" in the last sentence.  As a kid, I did think he looked a little like Gargamel from The Smurfs though.)

Me:   Shouldn't surprise you.  I've been writing since I knew how to hold a pencil.  :-P  I've composed hundreds of poems/lyrics, finished dozens of short stories, a few screen plays, a musical that was produced, and I've started several novels.  I just never finished any of the novels before because the ideas for the next story kept stealing my attention.  This time I'm just being more disciplined about it to reach the goal.  

(Then I go on about my status with it, which I've expressed plenty here already.)

Dad:  Well, I hope you have "cute" fuzzy characters and a nice happy ending like Alice in Wonderland.

Me:  ...Um... Not even close.  Warring vampires, political machinations and... worse.  While I do have a fairytale story lurking in the back of my mind, this novel isn't it.  lol.  And now that I think about it, maybe I don't want my (or my husband's) parents reading it...

(And at this point, I realize... maybe do not want most of my family reading it...)

Dad:  It should have nice fuzzy things 'cause I bought you more stuffed animals than any other kid in Pinellas Co.

(He may be mildly delusional because he didn't, but that's irrelevant to this)

Me:  Oh, I like fuzzy things in real life... Just my fiction preferences tend to range much darker.  Nice and separate.

(I shouldn't have to keep pointing this out to him, as it's not remotely new, but like I said, he may be mildly delusional.)

Dad:  Uh oh... I already told 100 people... but I would have to read it first.

(He doesn't know 100 people.  And... gah!  There's a psuedo-orgy in it!  Sex, blood, gore and violence! ...maybe he'll accidentally skip that part...)

Me:  Well... Um... Just remember that I AM an adult and this is FICTION. 
~_~ooo  Lol.

Dad:  Well your (you're) really not an adult... your (you're) still my "little" girl... Tooooo me.

(I did not get my grammar skills from him. ~_~ooo)

Me:  Yeah... Just forget that part when reading the novel.

I absolutely do not write with my parents (or the vast majority of my family) in mind.  Not only have our interests and tastes differed vastly for most of my life, but they are my parents!

Heck, one of the reasons I decided to use a penname was to put up an invisible barrier between public life and private life.  Other reasons include how impossible it is for people to pronounce my last name, let alone spell it (silent w in the middle of it, folks).  Though, ironically, only a few years back, I discovered that I have a direct uncle who published a critically approved (I think) science fiction novel (under that difficult last name) and taught at Columbia.  Since moving to NYC, I've tried (weakly) to get in touch with him, meet him, get to know him, but have not yet succeeded.  Maybe I'll try again after I publish "B."  We'll see.

But, back to the familial anonymity reason behind a penname... 

I find it easier to be more sincerely me in a lot of public outlets than I ever have with more intimate circles.  Very few have bridged that gap for me, my (decadent ~_~ooo) husband, who I've been with since I was sixteen, being one of them.  I'm so different from most of my family, have felt so far on the fringes of them due to my tastes and interests (as well as other more dysfunctional reasons that I won't go into detail of here), that I've cordoned off a large segment of myself from them.  Much of that segment comes out in my writing to some substantial degree.

Of course, just because I may write about sex, gore, violence and other forms of debauchery doesn't mean that I have an actual interest in participating in them in reality.  There's political subterfuge in them too and I'm not exactly a keen follower of real life politics either.  I'll study specific aspects of politics for use in a story, but otherwise, it's my husband that points out a lot of the important political things that are going on.  Well, my husband and a friend of ours from our school days who now works in Washington, DC.  Like I said in my text, my personal fictional and academic interests tend to be rather separate from my actual likes in reality.  At home, I like to curl up with a book or movie or music featuring the very dramatics I would prefer to be absent from my actual day-to-day life for real.

As such, the idea of my family reading a novel that incorporates these base, even debauched, elements makes me want to squirm... a lot. This has happened with plays I performed in as well.  I know that they know its not real, but it still weirds me out to have them see me do it on stage... and apparently, write about it on a page.

It doesn't even matter that the main character ("B" is in first person, past tense) is mostly just a witness to the debauchery as she is confronted with the reality of the vampire culture she's been inducted into. The effect for my family and others may be the same.  If the general public despises the story for it or even if they despise me as an author for it, it will suck, but its survivable.  I can always get a new penname.  But if my family is disgusted by me for it... That's something else all together.

So, this poses a small problem.

A lot of people assume that an indie writer's first dozen or more sales come from family and friends.  With my feelings about my family reading my writing on these somewhat taboo behaviors and activities, this may be less the case for me.

I may need the cushion of unrelated sales to bolster my nerve to tell them of its availability.  As such, how do I get those first several (maybe hundreds, ~_~ooo) of sales?

I certainly don't have that many friends.  Nor do the much smaller actual number of friends in my menagerie have enough spare cash to accomplish such a task for me on their own.  

The answer... I have to sell to strangers.  And to enough strangers that I can confidently (or, more likely, shyly) go up to my family and say, "Hey, look at my publicly appreciated novel!"

It puts the whole marketing thing in a different perspective for me.

Heck, it puts the whole idea of profiting off of "B" in a whole other perspective.

Maybe they'll lose interest and resort to giving me pitying looks regarding my pipe-dreams of being a respectable author before I can reach the "you can read it now" sales goal.  After all, from what I've researched on this whole indie-writer epublishing thing, the realistic success comes over a long duration (like at least 3-5 years of patience, fortitude, and as many quality stories as can be produced, just to get a good stride going).  Experiences in ranges of Amanda Hocking to Victorine Lieske are rare and few between and I am not self-delusional enough to think I'll be one of them.  Is there a child-like giddy hope for it nestled deep in my daydreams?  Yes.  But just like that old fantasy of getting cast as Rogue in a decent X-Men movie with Gambit in it... it's wildly unrealistic. 

The ridiculous part is that I know my family's reaction probably wouldn't likely be as bad as I fear.  I know that the intensity of this fear is irrational.  It's even somewhat irrelevant since I'm apparently bound and determined to write about these things regardless.  Like with many things in life, knowing something and enacting it or dealing with it are more contrary, and thus more elusive to reconcile, than it initially seems.

So, to all of you out there that may be kind enough to peak in on my tiny nook of the universe, have you had difficulty blending your family life with your public life?  How do you get past related self-doubts and hesitations and embarrassments and concerns?  

I'd love to hear about your experiences.  Learn from them.  Evolve from them.  Or even just laugh with you over them.  I sure laughed at that conversation with my dad.  I hope you did too.  

Thank you for indulging... (me).


  1. I just found this off of Kindleboards. Considering the soft-and-fuzzy comments in your dad's text, I can understand keeping things separate. I have similar issues only it's a push-pull between my true, honest self and the person who has a job "selling" a certain attitude at work. It's not easy, either way.

    One thing-- the red lettering is VERY hard to read on the black background.

  2. Hi Casey!

    I understand your dilemma to some extent as well. Before moving up here, my decadent husband and I both worked for a municipality, and a lot of city government protocol revolves around the public image. We both dealt directly with the public in our jobs, specifically in entertainment and ceremonial purposes, and we were recognized when not on the job. That recognition sometimes made it difficult to be ourselves outside of work. The public sometimes expected unreasonable things of those employed with their tax dollars.

    I feel for your situation and I wish you the best with it.

    As for the red on black... It's a theme I've used online for YEARS. Some people like it, some don't. I am very partial to it. For the most part, I try to keep it to a minimum for the text of the posts in order to appease those who find it difficult to read or bothersome for some other reason. I went a little 'red crazy' in this particular post, so I apologize for any inconvenience it may have caused you. I'll try to keep it down in the future.

    However, I probably won't lose the red-on-black theme altogether any time soon. I hope that doesn't keep you or others away. I would like to build camaraderie here. And while color choices aren't necessarily crucial, it is one of the small ways I can utilize my own preferences for my own purposes for something personal to me (even if in a public setting) and I want to hold on to that act of personal freedom as long as I reasonably can. I hope you can understand and will visit here again. Like I said, I'll keep the red out of the text of the posts most of the time.

    Thank you for your response. I appreciate it verily!