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16 April 2006 @ 04:15 pm
Selling the author, part 2  
In my last posts I was discussing the idea of “selling myself,” that is, talking about personal issues unrelated to my writing in an attempt to sell my book. After all, a work of fiction by an unknown author just isn’t going to sell, is it? So why not talk about issues unique to me, in an attempt to generate interest in me, the author, since there can be only limited interest in my book?

The problem is, the “unique personal issue” in this case was a deformity of my hands, and the interview that set off all this ranting included a question that treated the deformity in its manifestation as a disability. Having deformed hands is a disability, of course. There are many things I can’t do and many more things I can do only with difficulty. In the interview, otherwise an excellent one, by the way--check it out in the on-line magazine Bi Magazine
--there was a question about how I managed to type with no fingers, as if the physical act of typing had anything to do with the creative act of writing, or the content of the writing. I answered the question despite my misgivings, and then suffered an explosive slow-building rage that erupted into a blog posting in which I expressed self-hatred for degrading myself.

In fact, the deformity aspect of my deformity (redundancy intended) has a very direct connection to the content of my writing. I write escapist fiction because I like to write myself a reality in which I’m not deformed, a world in which I can enjoy being sexy and beautiful, and being married to the sexiest, most desirable bisexual man, because it’s something I haven’t been able to enjoy as a deformed woman in real life.

Am I sexy and beautiful? Yes, in my opinion, I am. Women certainly think so, because women just don’t have that hard-wired sexuality that goes directly from the eyeballs to the balls without passing through the brain. But I want men to find me sexy and beautiful, too, and while there have been some exceptions, it’s difficult for most men to get past that first irreconcilable contrast of pretty face, petite, sexy body and—gack!—hands that look like they were put through a meat grinder set for coarse sausage and then pulled out after a few seconds.

My book is a way of presenting myself in what I think of as my true form: sexy, beautiful, witty and outrageous. If my physical appearance detracts from this image, or makes it difficult for some people to see me as I want to be seen, the book can take my place as the “real me.”

A friend who has been following this tortured argument had a hard time getting what my problem was. She asked at one point if I was “like that.” Like what? A whiner, an unhappy person hung up on her appearance? I answered: Yes, I am. I am also a happy, witty, sexy, intelligent, outrageous person. Is it possible to be both? I don’t know. Is it possible to be bisexual?

Being deformed, even having a disability, puts a person in a very difficult situation in terms of mood. Not only does it make people uncomfortable to see us, it makes people even more uncomfortable if we appear to be unhappy, if we don’t “accept” our disability/deformity. Even now, although I’m sure lots of people would deny it, they want us to be like Tiny Tim (the Dickens character, not the falsetto-singing Tiptoe Through the Tulips guy from the 1960’s and Laugh-In). We’re supposed to be happy, cheerful, “God bless us everyone” morons. Well, I’m not, and I’m not going to pretend to be one just so people won’t be uncomfortable. I consider being a deformed woman an unacceptable situation. Ask yourself: in all the movies and TV shows with brave new story lines and characters, with women in wheelchairs and cancer survivors and so on, how many female characters are deformed? Not disabled, not “visually impaired” or “hearing impaired” or with an internal disease, but with something that affects how they look, their sexual attractiveness?

Does this mean I want to die or to kill myself?

No. It just means that I consider anger and hostility a positive way for me to deal with an unacceptable situation. We’re all told to accept the things we cannot change. Why? Were people in concentration camps in WWII supposed to accept their situation? They couldn’t change it, but I don’t really think a concentration camp, or being in one, is an acceptable thing. You think that’s an extreme analogy? Not to me. This is not minor. This is not “bad hair day” or “missed the bus” stuff for me. It affects how I see myself, what I call my sexual self-confidence. It determines that most fundamental, intimate part of my internal being, my self-image. And in addition, it means every little physical, manual act of daily life, from brushing my teeth to fixing my hair to getting dressed to buying things with coins to…on and on and on and on, requires forethought and planning and adds immeasurable tedium and frustration to my life every single fucking

Angry? You bet. I’m intelligent and sane. What else should I be but angry?

And…that’s where the creativity came from. I felt so proud of myself that I was finally able to use the energy that goes into sustaining the anger to do something positive. I started my writing as therapy, writing about what I’d like to be as opposed to what is, and I got good enough through practice that I was able to put my bisexual historical romance out there for people to read. I thought it was witty and unique, my own work, and that other people might enjoy its escapism. I thought that, regardless of the origin of my fantasy, it was pleasurable enough and interesting enough for other people to be able to enjoy it as a romance.

But this leads to another problem: suppose knowing this ugly truth about me prevents some people from reading the book? Suppose it turns them off? Suppose they think I’m just a pathetic deformed woman writing the fantasy she can’t enjoy in real life? If I’d just kept all this private information to myself, they might have enjoyed the book purely on its own merits, as a unique and entertaining romance, the story of bisexual man falling in love and living happily ever after with both his wife and a male partner.

So the question remains: Is it ever a good idea to sell the author as a way of selling the book?
Current Mood: pensivepensive
(Anonymous) on June 22nd, 2007 04:28 am (UTC)