As Sacchi wrote on Monday, I hung out with her and Jeremy Edwards over the weekend, and, inspired by the current topic at The Grip, we spent some time recording a conversation about friendship. Jeremy heroically provided the equipment and processed the audio from that, and I'll share a few snippets here.
I want to make this post worthwhile even for those who aren't set up to listen to audio, so I'm going to riff on some of things that came up, then embed the clips (and link to where they're hosted).
Do You Know Me?
I tend to assume that people don't remember me. Unless I am certain it isn't necessary, I usually remind people of my name and where we've met when I encounter them in person. In cover letters, I'll usually tag previous interactions (such as, "You've published my work in four of your books") up to, perhaps, a ridiculous point. After all, if the editor has published my stories in four of their books, I would hope my name would at least ring a bell...
Similarly, I don't assume readers know who I am, though at this point there are a pretty large number of places where they could have encountered me.
There's a downside to this assumption, though. What seems like prudence to me can lead to impostor syndrome or a tendency to miss out on opportunities to interact with the larger community. If I had a dollar for every time I've wondered if I'm "allowed to" interact with someone on Twitter, I'd have at least a month's rent.
And to become friends with people, I have to allow it. My behavior can lean formal in a way that I think holds people at arm's length. I want to relax that at least a little.
I brought up this point in the conversation with Jeremy and Sacchi, and we discussed becoming friends with others in the erotica business.
Do You Really Know Me If You Don't Know I'm Annabeth?
I keep my ego shelf in the living room, which is the first room a person walks into when entering my apartment. I've questioned the wisdom of this many times, because it's been awkward once in a while. For example, my priest came over once and was sitting not three feet from my vast collection of smutty books. I will probably forever wonder if he noticed or not.
There's a reason I put the books there, though. In a small way, it's an effort to avoid feeling ashamed of something that's a huge part of my life. I would like to believe that anyone who's close enough to come into my apartment is close enough to see the books. When I do get asked about them, I answer honestly, and this only gets weird some of the time.
The thing is, if you don't know that I write erotica, then you're missing a big part of my life. For me, the question of letting real life friends know what I'm up to as Annabeth is still active and difficult.
Jeremy, Sacchi and I talked about our experiences in this respect.
Do You Really Know Me If You Know That I'm Annabeth?
I try very hard to be real in conversations in person or over e-mail—in private conversation, really. I try to tell the truth on this blog, as well. On The Grip, I've discussed some really difficult issues that I don't usually talk about, and I have the same ideals for my Annabeth Leong blog.
For me, that's come as the result of becoming bolder and braver. I have seen so many exhortations to never discuss politics on social media sites (you don't want to alienate your customers...). Here's the thing I've finally realized. If you don't like my politics, you won't like my writing. I craft my writing to be inclusive of people of all genders, races, orientations, etc. Accurately representing the world is one of my deepest passions as a writer. I also believe in questioning stereotypes wherever I can—and for me that's good both as politics and as strong characterization and plotting. I've had places where I've fallen short, of course, but I've been trying to make my voice stronger lately.
That said, the way I'm Annabeth in public does still conceal some things. I don't generally post about what discourages me, what business practices I think are nonsense, and so on. This touches a bit on what Giselle brought up, in my mind anyway. I need a little privacy to myself. I am as present as possible in all my writing—whether that's stories, blog posts, or brief things on Twitter. It's not the whole picture, though.
That's where writer friends come in. I've been making an effort lately to have at least a few friends who know what I, as Annabeth, am struggling with. And I think it makes all the difference in the world.
Jeremy, Sacchi, and I talked about discouragements as a writer, particularly about moving on from erotica.
There are five more snippets than the ones I included with this post.
If you're interested in the entire conversation, I've got it all posted here, along with descriptions of what we cover in each section. If anyone has trouble getting the clips, shoot me an e-mail and I'll happily send them to you that way.
And thanks again to Jeremy and Sacchi for a lovely conversation.