We just off facetime, and I’m disturbed.
Rick and Sally haven’t even met, and while Bradley and I snicker at the fun we’re already having with this story, it turns out, Bradley is having not only second, but third thoughts about this: a) He’s not told Saskia we’re doing this project, b) He’s unsure he wants his name on it.
Okay, let me set this straight. We wanted to make money. We agreed romance was the way to go. Those two combined would signify publishing, publicity, ushering this baby into the world. Why on earth would I spend a whole month, laughing, creating something that he might (have the power to) pull the plug on? Admittedly, I hate limitations. I find it hard to surrender my devotion, energy and time to a creative work, if it cannot become what it is meant to become.
Let’s address problem b. What is in a name?
Bradley is concerned that publishing romance will demote, diminish, if not ruin, his name and literary career, and possibly cast his other self-help and children books in the wrong light. What kind of judgments might he carry? Is romance and light erotic too smutty for him? Low-brow literary? Cheap. I don’t know. My name is already associated with freedom and authentic, if not naked, self-expression, and it’s probably too late or even ludicrous to think I’d be pursuing academic acclaim or political position anytime soon, so on my account, nothing to loose. I stand by my desires and impulses. Doesn’t mean I cannot be shy about promoting myself and have my own ambitions of being acknowledge, but as I get older, even such ego pursuits seem to loose their grip on me. My biggest pursuit is to court my muse and free my creativity. That’s what’s going to make my name.
What makes a writing career? Can one go wrong with one’s projects? Perhaps. Probably depends whose validation you seek. What I know is this: we having a lot more fun writing this than doing our regular business and writing course materials, and that is something. How can you be embarrassed about what gives you absolute, if not guilty, pleasure?
So my advice to my fellow writer at this point: stand tal, Bradley, be the diverse writer you are, write what the hell you want and feel inspired to write, and promote the romance on another website. If you need another name, change it now.
Now, let us address problem a. As I see it, it stems from the same shameful drawer. Bradley hasn’t told Saskia about our project. He’s afraid his joy and pleasure with this work will provoke jealousy or upset her, not so much because of content, but because she’s low on the joy-meter at the moment, and his happiness might feel like a provocation in the face of her struggles to find her own. I get it. It could come across in the wrong way. Especially if you yourself are having issues with it.
So I wonder, who is protecting whom from what?
As writers we concern ourselves with the intimacy of the human experience, our own, of those around us, including lovers, friends, strangers. We draw upon such inspirations even for those characters and events we make up. We protect others’ privacy by carefully choosing our words and voices. We seek the underlying universal truth. We acknowledge that mostly, we only hold the key to one door, one story, our own. Ultimately, all we write reflects back on ourselves.
To my mind, and I’m sure Saskia would agree, this work is pretty innocent. For what I’m concerned, Sally and Rick might not even hit the sack before the month is over. And if they did fall into each others arms, had an erotic interlude, one of us would write the scene, as our own take on it, to which the other author would respond. Ultimately, Sally and Ricks’ would bring their own fantasy to life.
Tag-teaming on this story creates a lot of opportunities for both of us to respond, and thus allowing the surprise factor to spark creativity and unexpected turns. A story that cannot be controlled and well-mapped so to speak. This is part of letting our creativity loose. To be less controlling. But, we are still Bradley and Lone, longterm writer friends, the energy between us is clean, humorous, honest, and as such, I feel this is solid no matter what the hell Sally and Rick might do.
When I write, I don’t feel myself in Sally at all, though of course, she’s based upon my ‘source material’, nor do I think of Rick as Bradley. They have already become separate characters, and what plays out between them is much different than what plays out with Bradley and I. We are engaged in a longterm dialogue about living a free, creative life and this project is an experiment, a puzzle, a dare, a mostly, a delightful concern with the story about the story. I see us sitting together on a balcony, watching Rick and Sally play out their destiny on a stage in front of us, and we’re discussing it and pulling strings like puppeteers to make sure something dramatic unfolds over the course of the next month.
So is it a question of fidelity? Plenty of writers have written romance, erotica, juice sex scenes, while married. Would that be considered a mind fuck, an infidelity of your mind or just the inevitable reality of a writer’s extra-curriccular life of his or her fantasy? When does what we as creatives do with our minds become a threat to those close to us? Is our minds our own?
Last year I met a guy, whom I had a fun platonic connection with, we love to talk story and banter, and he likes a bit of my push back, but ultimately, he’s not telling his wife that I exist, which to me means, big alarm, he likes the idea of a secret affaire, if only in his mind. I have stopped taking his calls. I do not want to be a fantasy. Play is fine. Engagement is great. Attraction happens on all levels all the time. My attraction to Bradley is endearing, a platonic creative connection and I value his friendship and cares about this wellbeing, which of course includes his wife and relationship.
My sense is months from now, she’ll be laughing at us, all our concerns. And worse, she might think we did a lousy job with Sally and Rick’s romance in Paris, letting our niceness and control take the edge off the juice affaire.
So I figure, Bradley has some judgments about what he’s doing he needs to resolve within himself. And he needs to take the edge of this, set his fun free, and let Saskia know we’ve embarked upon this madcap NaNo experiment. That’s my two scents. What’s yours?