Countdown to Publication—Week Five
“Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not the sitter.” Oscar Wilde
I am five weeks away from the publication of my debut novel IF I BRING YOU ROSES and I am scared.
Readers—strangers, friends, and family—will be able to see me naked. Friends and family will wonder if they ever truly knew me. Some will judge me and wonder how they were misled.
Strangers worry me least, for if they read my novel, it’s because they want to read it, and not out of obligation as friends and relatives might. I am used to writers, agents, editors, reading my work. Most of them are experienced readers and lovers of books.
But what about my family and friends? I doubt if either my mother or mother-in-law will read IF I BRING YOU ROSES. My mother doesn’t read novels and my mother-in-law only reads Spanish. I did try to mention at least once or twice that there is sex in the book so that they, especially my mother, will be prepared. My uncles back on the island are looking forward to reading about los jíbaros and I haven’t figured out a way to have my mother warn her born-again Christian brothers. Mami told me our old parish priest Father Maloney is looking forward to reading my novel. Did I think he could read it? Yes, if he likes to read, I said. I figure if you are a priest or a reader of literature, you’ve been exposed to the good and the bad (as you often are in real life) and a little sex isn’t going to faze you.
A close friend who has read IF I BRING YOU ROSES wrote me that she thought to herself, “Is this my Marisel? I never hear words like this coming out of her mouth!” She wondered if I had obliged my husband to take part in a Spanish Inquisition to understand the male psyche and to be able to write from my male protagonist’s viewpoint. Of course, my friends and family are non-writers so they don’t understand the way the mind of a writer works, but I would like to state here unequivocally that no male was interviewed or harmed in the writing of IF I BRING YOU ROSES. The responsibility was mine and mine alone.
I made a conscious decision to write honestly about my characters’ sex life because I enjoy writing about sex. Plain and simple—I like writing sex. And I think I’m pretty good at it. The quandary comes from my coming from a family where we never talked about sex. Some women talk about sex with their sisters, friends, and maybe even their mothers. I don’t. Never. As much as I have tried to evolve into a liberated woman, I am a product of my family and my prim and proper upbringing. Nice Puerto Rican girls don’t talk about sex. Or at least not when I was growing up.
Maybe that’s why I like to write about sex, because I can express myself through the written word the way I never could verbally. I try not to shy away from describing it. I can let loose, take my clothes off, shake my booty. I find it delicious and freeing and, hopefully, my writing expresses that. And, now, my friends and family will know a little bit more about me and it makes me want to put my clothes back on. But it’s too late.
Only five more weeks to publication and I have to keep on shaking my booty.
She Writes Amigas, have you ever been scared that you have exposed too much of yourself in your writing? And is that a good thing?
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