By Lisabet Sarai
You don't know me. Even if you're a regular visitor to the Grip, eagerly consuming my disclosures about my outrageous past - even if you've read every word I've ever published - you don't really know who I am. I'm sure you have some valid notions about what's important to me and what experiences shaped me - what makes me tick - but let me remind you: Lisabet Sarai is as much a fiction as the stories she creates.
I'm not saying that I've been lying. Not exactly. You can mostly trust the emotional content of both my posts and my tales. However, I've changed the facts to protect the innocent, which includes me as much as the many people in my past about whom I write. For practical reasons, I need to maintain a clear separation between my life in the everyday world and my author persona. I'm wary of giving out too many clues to my true identity. So I employ deliberate misdirection, sprinkling pseudofacts among the real ones and hoping that you can't tell the difference.
Every time I write a blog or join a social network discussion or email a reader, I'm donning a mask. I am Lisabet Sarai, glamorous doyenne of BDSM erotica, omnisexually voracious, polymorphously perverse, willing to believe that almost anything could be erotic under the right circumstances. I'm the Erotogeek, handing out advice on HTML and web scripting. I'm the Grammar Goddess, the Punctuation Princess, the Marketing Maven, a moderately senior member of the erotic author community. I'm the artist of alliteration who composes the monthly Erotic Lure for ERWA, full of double entendres and offhand commentary on my life as a happy submissive.
If you only knew what my real life was like! You'd laugh and shake your head, illusions dispelled. If you and I passed on the street, you'd never in a million years recognize me, though my head shot shows up all over the Internet. I was glamorous once, for about two hours, on the day that photo was taken. Sexually voracious? Not for a long time, alas! Imagination may be the ultimate aphrodisiac, but hormones unfortunately play a role. A happy submissive? Only in my dreams.
I put on Lisabet's mask to write these posts, and for a little while, I become the lusty, lascivious lady I always dreamed of being. I can pretend that I don't have arthritis, constipation, frizzy gray hair and a butt that's long since surrendered to gravity. I can relive my randy youth, leaving out all the tough parts, pretending that I really knew what was going on, when in fact I was totally lost.
You really don't know who I am. But perhaps you have some understanding of who I'd like to be.
My husband doesn't know me. We've been together for more than thirty years. We love each other deeply and get along so well that we've received marveling comments from other couples. Still, he has little understanding of Lisabet Sarai.
I think he views the hours I spend online, being Lisabet, as a somewhat frivolous waste of my valuable time. From a financial perspective, he may be right. He doesn't read my blog posts. He doesn't realize how I sincerely I miss the interactions with you, my peers and my readers, when my real world job keeps me away. All he knows is that it takes me hours to handle my daily email; totally immune to the social aspects of the Internet, he can't imagine why.
It's not that he disapproves of Lisabet. He's a fan of erotica - he had a significant collection already when we met. He reads many of my stories and has even critiqued a few for me. He won't read BDSM, though, or anything that includes sexual interaction between men. This isn't a question of bigotry or even disgust. He simply fails to understand why I find such things erotic.
BDSM especially. He and I had a wide range of sexual adventures in our younger days, but he has never been able to comprehend the thrill I get from dominance and submission. Because he loves me, he tried, early in our relationship, to stage a few D/s scenes, with a notable lack of success. The power exchange dynamic doesn't touch him at all. I tell him that I love him the way he is and that I don't need to submit to be fulfilled. The first statement is true; the second is a deliberate misdirection.
I don't want him to feel insecure, to worry that he does not satisfy my needs. And he does, as much, I believe, as any one individual can for another. Still, Lisabet Sarai's readers know how deeply I've been affected by my brief experiences with BDSM. A physical relationship that lasted only a few years has fueled more than a decade of fictional fantasies. I literally dream about submission. Then I wake next to my husband, feeling damp and guilty.
My husband knows me better than any other single person does, but even he doesn't know all of me. I wear a mask that hides the most extreme of my kinky fantasies from him. Instead I pour them out on the page - or here at the Grip - knowing he won't be around to be disturbed.
We all don masks sometimes, to protect ourselves and the ones we love. Authors, though, especially authors of erotica, spend their lives hiding behind a veil of illusion. We can't escape. To be honest, I'm not sure I'd want to. I love my Lisabet mask - even if I have to tell some white lies to keep it intact.