I use a pen name for a reason. I like anonymity and I like being able to write with freedom; without the constraints of my real life. I’m not ashamed though. I have done in person readings, and as much as I am an introvert, I try to never miss an opportunity to promote when I’m out and about. It is awkward though when my co-workers or my parents church friends find out the genre I write. Here are the 4 stages of awkward revelation.
1. The Carefully Poised Question
“Hey, I heard…well, you know. Mary in accounting told me you write (insert whisper) dirty novels”.
I don’t necessarily cringe when I get this question but I tend to prepare for the onslaught of personal and prying questions of if my poems and stories are about my life. I welcome the inquiries as long as they are not insulting or a way to pry too deep into my personal life. I automatically feel like Dr. Ruth for having to explain kinks, fetishes or what the term “laying the pipe” means. Don’t get me wrong, there are moments I find the carefully poised question hilarious and fun but sometimes they aren’t so carefully poised.
2. The Surprised Face When Your Co-Workers Find Out It’s Erotica
“Ooooo so like, do the characters in your book have a lot of sex? Is it like 50 Shades?”
I tell them hell yes! My characters bone till they’re sore. They fuck like bunnies, in wonderful positions I might add, but they are so much more than penises and vaginas with dialogue. I love when I get real in depth questions or understandings of erotica. I get giddy with them as I give them a synopsis or point them to my poems and short stories. I feel proud of my characters and my work and I want to break open a bottle of Jack in the break room and talk all about what women want and need, the talents of men and all that jazz. P.S. No, my book is not like Fiddy Shades.
3. Kinda Hoping They Buy It, Kinda Hoping They Won’t
Ok, lt’s be real here. I want everyone to buy my book. I want to see my co-workers sneaking in pages on their phones. I want you to be doing the same (wink, wink). While I want all of this, there is a part of me that wants to run and hide when I learn someone I work with has read my book. I’m not ashamed of the work or subject but it’s my baby. In the words of Ms. Badu “I’m an artist, and I’m sensitive about my shit!”.
Oh and one person I worked with did read my book and listened to my interview from WhyYet on BlaqRadio. For three days she told me every filthy story of her and her husband. Seriously, I don’t wanna know how y’all get down. I’m not the doggy style whisperer.
4. The Kanye Shrug & Oh Well I give once I realize it’s out there.
People are gonna judge, people are gonna stare. Yes these people, who I barely know because I’m not a people person, will know more about my imagination and thought process than I will ever know about what they are buying for lunch. That’s the game though, that’s the life and that’s the hustle. By day I am a professional and as sweet as they come. By night I am Victoria Catherine. A woman with filthy thoughts I can’t wait to get on paper. Co-workers, have at it.