Love and Fear on Book Release Eve

Hello, faithful readers. I’ve been wracking my brain to come up with what to write about today, something interesting about The Clown and the Magician on the eve of its release, something that isn’t boring or repetitive (since most of my posts so far have revolved around this book), something that maybe is basically a disguise for how scared and excited I am about the whole thing.

But to hell with that. I write to tell the truth, so I’ll tell you the truth. I’m scared. And excited. Like so many things in life, it’s all love and fear, fear and love. Perhaps uncoincidentally (is that not a word? The text editor here thinks not-a-word, but has nothing to offer me instead), love and fear pretty much describes how I feel about writing. And relating to other people. And making business phone calls. And doing the dishes, at least in this 100ish degree weather.

Thankfully, the love wins at least a little more than half of the time, except perhaps in the case of the dishes, which makes sense, because the love doesn’t really exist in the case of the dishes, except maybe in love for Charlotte, and not wanting her to have to do dishes all the time by herself forever, and love for not having really moldy dishes all around and love for drinking things out of clean glasses.

I guess these two things really are everywhere.

So, because confession is good for the soul (remember that part where I write about Catholicism and stuff? I was such a religious & spiritual kid, but I NEVER liked Confession. Resented the whole idea and was freaked out about it. I have been to Confession exactly twice in my life– but I do think telling the truth is good for the soul), here is my confession. These are the things I fear about my book that’s coming out tomorrow, and these are the things I love about it.

Fear 1. I’m scared that no one will buy it.

Fear 2. I’m scared that everyone will hate it.

(I’m pretty sure that Fear 1 and Fear 2 are the standard fears that every writer has about every piece of writing put before the public in any way ever… but there you go.)

Fear 3. I’m scared that people will think the book is silly or weird because it’s a romance or won’t pay attention to the story for that reason. And that I’m being foolish by putting my real, honest-to-God, one-shot-only name on it, because when I write a picture book or something, someone, somewhere will freak out.

Fear 4. Here’s where we get serious. I’m scared because I am writing a character of a different racial background than mine– and his race matters at some points in the story. I feel really strongly about doing this. There are way too many books with only white people in them. But I also feel like I’m gonna screw it up. Funny, isn’t it? I am not worried about screwing up writing men or gay men or gay men having sex–the only kind of sex I cannot conceivably experience in my own body at all–or people substantially older than me, or people in professions I know nothing about, but race… yes. Race scares me. And I also get that that’s my racial crap inheritance. I don’t get most of the racial crap that the world has to give, but this, this fear of trying, this fear of what others might see or say in or about what I write, or of hurting someone with it… it’s got the sharp, nasty, double-edged sword end of white-girl-ness written all over it. Not that it’s wrong to be afraid, but the way I’m afraid– it carries a temptation to back out and leave race alone. And that’s just what I shouldn’t do, whether this little book works on these grounds or not. I think.

Ok, there’s the fear. Now to the love.

Love 1. I love the parents we see in this story. I love May, Jake’s stepmother. I love having a butch woman of color in the background of a male-male romance. Butch women belong in more stories! I love Bernard’s father… I feel like saying that gives too much away, maybe, but I do. I just love his absolute emotional clumsiness, and the fact that he totally messes up most of the times he opens his mouth, but that’s not the end of his story or his efforts.

Love 2. I love the themes of connection and integrity running through this story. I love the connection thing because that’s really what a good romance should be about, but it happens in so many interesting places in this story. I love the bitchy, dying woman in the nursing home who connects with Comet and the deer in the zoo that Bernard and Jake connect with for a moment. I love that this theme emerged on its own terms, because I think its really the flip side of the problem with Send in the Clowns and its stifling of individuality. It’s not just individual uniqueness that is taken away in a situation like that, it’s the potential to connect, and I think most of the characters we meet in this story, on or off stage, are trying so hard to connect in all these different, small ways, with Bernard and Jake’s struggle for connection right in the center.

Love 3. I love the weird, playful sex they have. I don’t want to give anything away, but… I love the whimsical sex.

Love 4. This is probably a predictable love, or one you would hope a writer of a romance would have, but I love Bernard and Jake. I love how real and present they became in this story, to me and to each other. I love how they are both amazingly graceful, in very different ways. I love, love, love Bernard’s commitment to clowning and his relationship to his clown character and the memory of his mentor. I love how sexy and physically precise Jake is–makes him a good magician, and also is a very fun thing to see through Bernard’s eyes. I love Jake’s dignity and refusal to be condescended to (I totally feel the same way whenever someone condescends to me, so that’s a me thing in him). I love the way they talk to each other.

So there you have it. My true confessions, mostly-hopefully lacking bravado on the one hand or false modesty on the other. My cards are on the table, but I can still do a trick with them… Wanna see?


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