The Dilemma of the Proofreading Mom

When I was still working on Spectacularly Broken (that would be the novel I’m publishing), I did a very, very brave and scary thing.

I let my mom read it.

The reasons for it were many. I needed a proofreader and she’s amazing at that. I needed someone who could point out the really huge, obvious flaws so I could make sure my beta reader wouldn’t be receiving a train wreck. I needed someone who would resolutely demand more character description and more chapters, and my mom is great at that as well. Most of all, I was excited about the story and wanted to share that with her.

She has only over the past few years come to the realization that writing isn’t just this flimsy, quirky thing I do for funsies, but that I’m actually good at it, and that it might even amount to something. Few things have ever been as gratifying as her telling me “While I was reading, I actually forgot that you wrote it – it reads just as well as any of the English novels I buy.”

The reasons against letting her read this novel? Just one.

There’s sex in it!

Sex! Gay sex! Explicit gay sex!

If you have or had the kind of relationship with a parent where you can write erotic stuff and be comfortable with them looking at it, more power to you. I don’t. I consider myself sex-positive and generally have no issues at all talking about it… but parents are special circumstances, and the regular rules don’t apply.

So I panicked and took out the sex.

No seriously. I went through the entire thing, rewrote some sentences, replaced certain words, faded to black close to the beginning of the action. I called it the “romantic version”, and while it wasn’t bad, exactly, it was lacking a certain punch and some character and plot development (yes, plot happens during sex), and I realized after deciding to submit the story that any publisher in the erotic romance genre would probably laugh at me. It was simply too tame. But not tame enough to fit into another marketable genre.

So I put the sex back in.

Actually, I didn’t just revert to the original version. I compared both versions side by side, and seeing them like that helped me realize what was essential, what was over the top, what worked, what didn’t. And I do believe the final version I ended up submitting is better than the original, so my kneejerk reaction actually worked out. But that doesn’t mitigate the fact that I freaked out a tiny bit at the thought of my mom reading the uncensored stuff.

Except –

*drumroll*

– the uncensored stuff is what’s going to be published, of course. And many acquaintances, fellow moms, Facebook friends, distant relatives etc have already announced their intention to read it.

Um. Yeah. *gulp*

This is gonna take a tiny bit of getting used to. I knew it was coming, ever since I made the decision not to keep my pen name secret. Because damn it, I’m proud of this story. I should be proud of it, and the best way to do Spectacularly Broken justice is for me to own it one hundred percent, not just under my pen name, but in my personal life as well. It doesn’t deserve anything less. The time I’ve spent turning ideas into the start of a career doesn’t deserve anything less. It’s a bit tricky to get used to the idea (because explicit gay sex!) but I’m getting there.

So yeah. Sex. In my book. And there you have it, folks.

You’re welcome.

3 comments for “The Dilemma of the Proofreading Mom

  1. Amber
    February 3, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    I can only imagine. I don’t think i would want my mom proofreading anything I write. Or my husband. Or anyone else I know. You’ve got TONS to be proud of! This is a great book! Can’t wait to read the “finished” product! 😀

    • Sage
      February 3, 2015 at 4:26 pm

      Thank you, best beta reader in the whole wide world! :)

      It’s definitely a mental process that takes a while. Nobody is going to grow comfortable with this kind of thing from one day to the next like flipping a switch. I sometimes still have to tell myself “People I know will read this AND THAT’S OKAY”. Thing is, even though we generally consider sexual thoughts a very personal thing… everyone has them. We just pretend that’s not the case (kind of like people don’t usually acknowledge the kind of stuff their parents must have been up to in order to, y’know, become parents). And I’m quite tired of doing that. (Pretending we don’t have sexual thoughts, I mean. As far as parents are concerned, LALALALALA I CAN’T HEAR YOU.)

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