I canceled a date about a month ago. It didn't feel right--in fact, it felt creepy so I followed my instinct and backed out. Does this make me a chicken...someone afraid of diving back into the dating world? Hardly. I’ve lived long enough to trust my gut instinct over social pressure.
Apparently, my solo lifestyle freaks people out so I’m constantly getting the “you need to get back out there” speech. I write love stories and am a big fan of the male species so how can I be content as a single woman? Must be my alter ego writing those sex scenes because the real me is...what? Uptight? A mouse? A wallflower?
Hardly. I like sex. I like men. I like letting loose. I particularly enjoy flirting and getting wild. In fact, I’ve often said that I need a keeper--someone to reel me in when I get a little out of hand. I have experienced euphoria and sorrow in the name of love. I’m passionate about everything.
But some people don't see that side of me because I don't trust them. Because they don't see that side of me, they say things like my writing must be the product of my alter ego or question why I don't enjoy talking about my work with them. (Of course it is all said with a laugh...but we all know that the most cutting things can be dismissed as a joke that isn't quite a joke.)
I have been hurt a lot in my life. I can be guarded, it's true. Unless I feel 100% accepted around someone, the unguarded me doesn't come out to play. Instead, I smile politely and evade personal questions because something screams "JUDGMENT" to my ears. I sometimes shield myself from further betrayal and heartache by retreating behind a mask that says Back-Off-And-Move-Along.
I have lived a big often messy but always interesting life. I have experienced love, loss, grief, adventure, triumph, violence, terror, compassion and bliss. If you don't know that, then it's safe to assume that I don't trust you enough to let you close.
Trust isn't a given. My intuition is right 100% of the time. I trust it. I trust myself. If that inner voice cautions me against opening up, then so be it. I have earned the right to protect my heart.
So, no, the romance writer is not a manifestation of an alter ego. I am the sassy heroine of my story--occasionally dark or funny or sad or balsy or silly or profound. I am simultaneously the mysterious woman in the corner observing from the shadows and the loud woman laughing from the sheer joy of being alive. I am a contradiction. I am content calling my own shots, taking up the entire bed, solo-parenting my kids, being accountable to no one and writing the night away.
If people don't see me that way, then they have not earned that all-access pass to my life yet. Perhaps what I allow the world to see is the protective shell surrounding a ball of fire.
I wonder...do horror writers ever get asked if they have the life experience to pull off a novel about slasher-psycho-zombie-vampire-mutant-escapees-from-the-mental-asylum-who-go-on-a-murderous rampage? Nah. I bet not.