Friday, October 22, 2010

THE MAGIC OF WRITING

Please help me welcome multi-published erotic romance author Juniper Bell to the blog.

Thanks for having me on the Shy Writers blog today, Rebecca. I definitely meet the definition, even though some might say a truly shy person would not have become an erotica writer.

Definitely, the people who knew me as a kid would be surprised at my new career. I was the girl who got glasses at the age of nine and hid behind them all through school. In the carpool, I’d sit in the back seat and read, even though my parents scolded me for my rudeness. When I went to my friends’ houses, I’d make a beeline for their bookshelves. I loved libraries.

As a matter of fact, my entire sex ed instruction came from the library. I don’t know what happened to health class. I don’t remember it. But I do remember searching out every bit of information I could find in certain forbidden books at the library. (My parents were apparently too shy to discuss such things.)

People saw me as a bookworm, as the supersmart girl with glasses. They would have been surprised by how many of those books were romances. Not all—but enough so that when I decided to write, that’s where I gravitated.

In my opinion, the hardest part of being shy is the self-consciousness. I hated being the focus of attention. I was always terrified of saying the wrong thing, of making a fool of myself. As long as I stayed in the background, I felt safe from scorn.

But all that changed when I picked up a pen. Writing was addictive. I’m sure all you other writers know the feeling I’m talking about. The power and freedom that comes when you’re the ruler of the world you’re creating. When no one is there to judge or criticize. When you can be bold, be wild, be whatever you want.

Here’s the trick that has enabled me to put out into the world the most private, most intimate of stories. The idea is this: I don’t write the book, the book writes me. The story uses me, my abilities, my experiences, my imagination, in order to find its way to readers. I give it everything I have—but it doesn’t belong to me. It’s not me. It’s a collaboration between me, the reader, and some mysterious magic I don’t understand or control.

Thinking of writing this way has relieved me of that burden of self-consciousness. It makes it easier to do the promotional and marketing aspects of writing. Easier to handle reviews and rejections. It’s not about me. It’s about the story, and the mystery of creation. If someone doesn’t like what I write, I’m sad, but I don’t take it personally.

Some actors say they’re shy. They like acting because it provides a safe zone in which they become someone else. That’s what writing is to me. A safe zone in which I don’t have to watch my behavior. I can become anything and anyone I want while I’m writing. It’s intoxicating. It’s liberating. It’s essential to my sanity.

So for all you shy writers out there, I say, if I can do it, you can. Just remember, the magic of writing is bigger than all of us.

Juniper Bell lives with her sweetie in a cabin in Alaska with no running water and a spectacular view of glaciers. She wound up in the frozen north after leaving her career as a stressed-out Los Angeles TV writer. Luckily, her love for writing survived the move. She soon discovered a surefire way of heating up those long winter nights. Her first erotic romance, “The Extremist,” was published in August of 2009, and since then she’s published three more books, “Doll” and “Training the Receptionist” with Samhain Publishing and “My Three Lords” with Ellora’s Cave. Visit her website, her blog , friend her on FaceBook or follow her on Twitter.

9 comments:

  1. Fabulous post! And so, so true! No one believes me when I say I'm shy either. I've always said actors and writers had a lot in common. We all create (or co-create) worlds, characters, or a persona in which to hide.

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  2. That's a wonderful way of looking at writing.Your stories are beautifully written and encompassing. I would have never pegged you for a shy person:) I'm okay until I have to praise myself, then it's complete panic attack. You'd better get used to being in the public eye. Your career is taking off. Great blog.

    Boone

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  3. Hi Juniper!
    I would never originally have guessed you to be a shy person. I know now that you to fight with that side of your personality. I know you're a classy writer who wants to get things right--for you and your fans. So can see you in your post and I love the way you describe your writing life. I think I could use a little of that because I have the opposite problem.

    I'm the rarer extroverted writer. I can easily meet, talk to, chatter with and make friends with people in person. When it comes to the writing, though, I can't hide behind a joke or a change of subject--my soul is out there in front of the world with no way to take it back. And then's when I get paranoid.

    So--I'm going to take a page from your "book" and learn to separate the story from the person. What a perfect, perfect idea! Great blog. Great writer. Great treat to read!

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  4. Wow, Juniper. Great blog. I need to remember that when I work on my platform. It's not about me. It's about the book. So true and yet I think I tend to forget that when it comes to promotion. That is an awesome way to think of it and get through putting yourself "out there." Thanks!

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  5. Hi Jenny,
    I'm going to put a sign on my desk=='It's not about me, it's all about the story.' Perhaps that will help me, thanks for the idea.

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  6. Your story could be mine, Juniper! Nerdy, painfully shy girl with glasses and her nose in a book! It's so true about writing being a way to rule the world without actually having to speak in public!

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  7. Like Liz, I would never have thought you were shy. Do you have shy-moment strategies in line for when you write the big breakout novel? But of course, you already did a radio interview, and you handled that very gracefully!

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  8. Thanks to everyone for stopping by to comment!

    PG and Kelly - I'm so glad I'm not the only shy erotic romance writer. We get to rule our own worlds, muah-hah-ha!

    Boone, Liz, Vee - Like most shy people, I've learned to adapt and "fake it 'til I make it," in the immortal words of Demi Moore. LOL. I'm not as shy as I used to be, but it's still there. We learn how to work with it in order to function. Liz, do you have any idea what I would give to be an extrovert? Extroverts have so much more fun! LOL

    Tamera and DeNise - The "not about me" idea has helped me a lot, but others may see it differently. For me, it puts the focus on the story rather than on me. Whatever works, right? :)

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  9. Great post, Juniper! I just tweeted you (I'm @JessHaynescom) a bit that really stuck out to me, but I thought I'd stop by for the more verbose response for which I itch ;)

    I am the absolute opposite of shy, I've never really felt self-conscious or shy or nervous in my writing career or in my past extracurricular activities in acting. Nonetheless, I can identify with that mystical experience of the book writing you.

    You bring up some great advice in the comments, too: it is good to fake it till you make it. No one knows, but you, that you're clammy on the inside if your cool on the outside.

    You've introduced me to a neat blog, as well. I can't say I'm the target audience, but that shan't keep me from poking around once in a while...

    - Jess

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