Okay, let’s see if we can get this straight. It all started with a free story I wrote last year.
Good Reads did this thing– someone posted a picture, and one of the writers who frequented the group would pick up the picture and write a story. I was, as usual, timed out. “No, no,” I protested. “I’d love to! You guys know I adore you! But I really don’t have time!”
“But Amy,” somebody taunted, “We have a picture that features SOCKS!” Because, yanno, my status as an m/m writer who also knits is sort of well known. Anyway, THAT’S how I came to write Super Sock Man
, because somebody posted that picture with the pretty blond boy putting on the sock, and I went from there. It was a short piece– about 3K, and I had fun writing it, and, well, sent it to Elizabeth, my publisher. “Yeah,” I said, “people keep saying they want to know what happens next.”
“Okay,” Elizabeth said, “tell us what comes next. I’ll publish it as a novella. But make sure you include a pattern for the socks.”
Oh boy–you all remember that, right? But it’s okay–the novella is coming out in March because, well, that’s when it’s scheduled, and I’m still really proud of the socks, and the fact that the same photographer took that picture as took the original one in the first place? I love that.
But the thing is, there’s more.
When I wrote Super Sock Man — the novella
the free short story, Donnie mentioned that his past lovers amounted to a couple of guys giving blow jobs and some heavy petting. When I wrote the novella? Suddenly, there was his buddy, Chase in the picture–but Chase, well… he wasn’t nearly as excited about Donnie to explore his sexuality. In fact, at the end of the story, he had a girlfriend instead of a boyfriend, and Donnie was worried about him.
And so was I.
In the meantime, I was experiencing legal things. Weird legal things. Apparently, my old district (the current residence of the Libelous Pigfucking Bureaucrat, if you may remember) was trying desperately to find a reason to fire me. They hired somebody to go back into my blogs.
Yup, you heard me. All of my blogs. There they were. Printed up and bookmarked for all the interesting spots where I may have fucked up in some way that could be used to destroy my career.
Now, interestingly enough, NOTHING in those blogs actually worked in that capacity–I was apparently cognizant enough of my pen name and my real name to keep them separate–huzzah for me, legal crisis averted. But I was stressed, and unhappy, at the same time I was thinking about Chase…
And I started thinking about duality… about keeping a part of your identity SO secret that nobody, not your friends, not your family, not your lover, knew who you really were. I know *I* couldn’t do it. Amy Lane has to have children because *I* have children, and Amy Lane had a job teaching because *I* had a job teaching. Just sitting down and putting words on the screen was an act of intimacy for me. I could not make it a lie.
What would it do to me, to make that a lie?
Well, it would probably destroy me. I’m not wired that way. And in the meantime, I’d been thinking about porn. No, no–get your mind out of the gutter–not everything is about sex, even porn! See, the thing is, there is an industry titled “gay-for-pay”– straight boys get paid to have sex with straight boys, and it’s used as a trope a lot in m/m. Get it? Two friends are really gay, but they’re broke, and they HAVE to have sex, and–
Well, yeah. Why not. Pretty Woman launched Julia Roberts’s career, right? It’s sexy wish fulfillment, and I’ve read some REALLY wonderful stories with this trope. But see, I wasn’t in a place where I could do sexy wish fulfillment.
And I was still worried about Chase. So I watched me some porn–and did me some research, and interviewed me a very willing film editor who had a bit to say about the industry, and I got a feel for this “trope”–and I was, in my way, charmed. Say hi to “Chase”, btw– that’s him and Tommy up there, Chase is the blond and Tommy is the dark haired one, but in real life they have different names, and on the porn screen they have other names and basically? They ARE duality, pretty smiles, pretty bodies, and all.
And they’re also regular young men, play ball, work out, don’t have much to say on camera but obviously have lives that (hopefully!) the rest of us will never see off of it, and I wanted very much for Chase and Tommy to capture that for us. And Dex (he’s the guy in the middle) and Kane (the dark haired guy with the soul patch and the impish smile)–well, they’re another story, one I’ve yet to write–but they’re important too.
But back to Chase. His story is not happy. I want to make it clear that I’m pretty sure the guys I’m watching for research (stop laughing!) are happy. But Chase, MY guy–his story is not happy, because his story really isn’t about the porn and the trope and the omygod he’s a gay guy pretending to be straight pretending to be gay. His story is really about the red door behind him. It’s about why Donnie was worried about him. It’s about why Tommy was his salvation. It’s about why he’s got a razor blade to his wrist in the first chapter and a girlfriend who doesn’t know his porn name and a mind that’s unravelling with every come-shot. THAT’S Chase. And he’s going to be out on Friday, the 24th of February
and I’m worried.
I mean, I’ve spent a couple of years trying to prove that I’m competent in my craft, but every time I try to tackle something that’s so much bigger than myself, I have doubts. It’s funny–someone said to me today, “Well, if YOU can worry, I guess it’s okay that *I* can worry!” and I’m thinking, “Who doesn’t worry? Writing is so personal–how can you put it out for critics to spit on and not worry?” I think I wrote back to her and said that critics’ spit was the bacterial breeding ground of insecurities, but it goes bigger than that. I don’t just want to tell an entertaining story–I want these people to mean something to the reader as they have meant something to me. I worry. Especially when their story is so much bigger than I am.
So, here’s Chase. He started out as a picture of a pretty boy with a pair of socks and evolved from there. Everybody want to join me for this one?
Holy Goddess, Merciful God, LET IT NOT SUCK! Cannyagimmehallelujiathankyaverymuchamen!