Public Speaking

She sits in a circle with her coworkers

An informal meeting has been called

It’s a time of sharing positive experiences

Encouraging one another

Reminding each other why they do the work that they do

She feels like a child among them

Awkward and shy

They are wiser, stronger, more courageous

More adult-like than she

She’s afraid to speak and betray her immaturity

So she listens and smiles and nods

She’s touched that they thought to include her

Touched that they thought her worthy

Even as she doubts it herself

Always she’s felt like an outsider looking in

Now she sits among them

Does she truly belong?

The voice of a childhood bully still whispers at the back of her mind

It joins the voice of Insecurity, chants the same lies

“You’ll never fit in. You don’t matter. Nothing you say is important.”

She has been told the truth

She is loved

She is appreciated

She is important

Still, she wrestles with these deprecating voices in her head

There is a lull in the conversation

An idea forms in her mind

Presses against the back of her throat

Turns into words

They cry out to her, begging for release

Heat rises around her neck

Spreads across either side of her face

 

Her mouth is very dry

Her heart pounds painfully against her chest

She swallows and opens her mouth

The words spill out, tumbling over each other

In their haste to escape

She can hardly hear them

There is only the powerful rush of blood in her ears

Coworkers nod and hmm in support or agreement

At last the deed is done

Her words, once captives, drift across the room and dissipate

She closes her mouth, forces herself to breathe evenly

Waits for the criticism

It doesn’t come from them but from within herself

“You should’ve spoken more slowly.”

“You should’ve raised your voice.”

“You shouldn’t have spoken at all.”

Despite the thoughts that cut deep

She is relieved, elated, overjoyed

Because they didn’t laugh

Her coworkers smile at her

As if what she said mattered

As if they’re glad she spoke

She smiles back because they can’t know what they’ve done

They can’t know how much this means to her

That they would listen

That they would care

She is so thankful

She wants to remember this feeling

Maybe, next time, she’ll speak again

On the subject of erotica

There is a possibility that I’m overreacting, but I have to get this off my chest. Are my manuscripts not going to get as much attention as some other books because I don’t write explicit sex scenes?

I’ve read some pretty incredible books that didn’t include sex. Their plots, characters, and sweet love story arcs were spectacular without graphic love-making scenes. I don’t know, maybe I’m generalizing but, nowadays, it seems like that’s all I see on promotional book websites and social media accounts.

“Read my book. There’s a naked man on the cover who’s super ripped.” “Read my book. It takes place at a whorehouse.” “Read my book. It’s a coming of age story about a girl who loses her virginity.” “Read my book. It’s about a passionate threesome this girl had one night.” “Read my book. It’s about a man who saw a woman on the street, their eyes met, and they just had to have each other.”

Oh. My. Goodness.

People complain about cliches, unoriginal plot lines, unrealistic characters, boring villains, and lack-luster hooks in the writers’ forums I’ve been involved with, but doesn’t the overwhelming amount of sex in today’s literature bother them? With so many wives complaining about their husbands who have “too much” of a sex drive, I find the sex-crazed women in some of these advertised books to be a little unrealistic. There can only be so many ways to describe the act of making love without things becoming repetitive or unoriginal. But no, I don’t hear anyone complaining about this other than myself and the rest of the conservatives.

I know humans are sexual beings. We were created to crave intimacy with our significant others. It’s one of the greatest things about being alive. I’m a newly wed. I get it. But it’s already in our movies, in our TV shows, screaming at us through our music, staring at us through our magazines, dancing across our computer screens, and being published in trashy adult books. New writers shouldn’t have to include it in their work to get the attention of an agent. There shouldn’t have to be sex in a book in order for it to be considered good by the general populace.

Sex isn’t the only thing that sells. What about artful story-telling? What about incredible world-building or the creation of intriguing places no one’s ever heard about? What about the brave heroes and heroines we all want to grow up to be like and those unshakable friendships they had? What about presenting the constant struggle between good and evil in new and exciting ways? What about those fun controversial topics, characters going through real-life problems, people uniting despite their differences to fight a common enemy? Shouldn’t all those things be more important than how well your pillow talk looks on paper or how many sexual positions you know?

All right, I’m getting off my soapbox now.

I know that not all authors write erotica. I know not every book ever written has a sex scene in it. It’s just frustrating, not to mention discouraging, when I continue to encounter books with adult content on the websites of agents and new authors. They outnumber every other book genre ten to one. I’ve set some boundaries for myself and established parameters when it comes to my writing that will help keep my conscious clear without staying too close to the “prude” or “tween” or “spiritual” line. I strive to appeal to multiple groups of people without compromising my morals. It’s hard sometimes but I believe it’s worth it. There has to be a group of people somewhere out there who looks for books like mine. That’s who I’ll write for. I just have to keep looking for agents who will like and champion my sex-free manuscripts.

 

P.S.

If you like reading or writing erotica, that’s your deal. I’m not judging or looking down on you. I’m just venting about my frustrations as an undiscovered writer.