One year ago I was fired with very little warning from a job I'd held for 11 years. As in... I'd never had any issues, never been in any trouble, never been verbally warned or written up for anything, ever, in over a decade. I was a union employee. The company has progressive discipline policies, but those policies didn't apply to me.
Why didn't those policies apply to me?
Because I'm an erotica author.
Because I write about gay sex and BDSM.
Because a person in my care had questions about BDSM that I was comfortable enough (and stupid enough) to answer. They were safety questions. Not personal, not procedural, not titillating... but the fact that I acknowledged at work that BDSM relationships actually do exist in real life apparently crossed a line.
In the resulting fray, someone told management I write books on the subject, which allowed a conservative Christian manager to hold me up as an example of a predator with bad boundaries - and suddenly I was unfit to do my job. They looked at me as if clearly me and the person who'd asked the question were the only perverts in the whole state (perhaps the whole country), and CLEARLY I was planning a hook-up, because OMFG, I FOUND ANOTHER PERVERT!
For the record, I've been married for 24 years, and we're mostly monogamous.
Not that it should make a difference, but I'm just pointing out that it shouldn't make a difference.
Every once in awhile I run into blogs/comments/discussions on whether erotica authors should "come out" at work or to their extended families, or what have you.
Well. I was out at work. I didn't share my pen name with just anybody, but a few co-workers that I felt closer to than just being work friends. I thought we were real friends.
*insert maniacal laughter here*
Yeah, that's funny. In the year since I was fired, I've heard from, mmm, maybe 4 people.
I disappeared after 11 years, and only FOUR PEOPLE wondered enough about what happened to contact me directly. I devastated. I was in shock and utterly humiliated. I couldn't eat or sleep for several weeks.
I missed my friends. I adored many, many of my co-workers. We depended upon each other in one crisis situation after another. I freely and happily gave away as much vacation time as allowed when they were in need.
I had no clue that almost all of them were transient friends.
This was the biggest heart-break of the whole mess.
Should you come out as an erotica author at your (vanilla) day job?
I'm going to say HELL NO. Don't do it.
Your friends and family aren't going to buy enough of your books to contribute to you making a living at this. Oh, they'll say they will, but they don't mean it. Especially if they don't have a pre-existing interest in what you write about.
These days I decline to share my pen name. And what I say is this: The people who are interested in the subject I write about will find and enjoy my books. I write for a niche market, a very specified audience, and people who don't read that genre will not enjoy what I write.
And that's all.
I do talk about being a writer. I talk about how I cannot be mentally healthy unless I engage in my art. I talk about finding or creating the free time to pursue "play" - the hobbies and passions that give life joy and meaning.
But I have learned that the collision of two worlds can change your life before you were ready for those changes.
But what's really interesting is... despite my shock and all my fury about the injustice of the event itself, it was time for me to move on. The environment in which I was working had become toxic to me. I was starting to believe that the system which claimed to help people, often harmed more than it helped. The system would much rather "manage" than "cure". I was becoming cynical and angry, and my health was suffering. I also felt helpless to change anything, and hopeless that things would change.
I agonized about whether to write full-time or finish my Master's degree.
I'm the shittiest marketing and promotion person in the universe, I think, and have never made enough money writing to make any significant contribution to my household. And so I finished school.
And now, exactly one year out from this horrible event...
I stand with my head held high, a professional license, and a deep passion for the journey I am about to begin.
I'm still going to write. Probably not any faster than I ever have, but definitely more than I've been able to manage while in school. Oh, yeah, and there's the part where I wrote a quick outline Monday night day and then bled out over 8,000 words on Wednesday. That's amazing for me. I liked it. I think outlining might be my new plan of attack.
Life is very, very different than it was one year ago.
But it's so, so much better!
Have a fun and safe weekend, my Darklings, and make an effort to play out your passions, whatever they may be.