Friday, July 20, 2012

Combining my Peeps

If you are a man or woman who has a family and more than one full or part-time job, I think you'll understand the type of multiple personality lives we live.  Writers especially live that type of life, and it is often realized by actually having different names for each persona.  

My writing career has also been one of multiple personalities.  Soon after college, I began writing Science Fiction short stories. I loved the "what if" scenarios and it was a time when I truly believed discovering new worlds (whether in the oceans of earth or in the planets of the universe), was imminent.  At the same time, I was exploring romantic relationships and also wrote romance short stories. This was in the days when women's magazines used to actually pay for romance short stories. They rarely do that now. Back then, my SF friends thought romance was stupid. My romance friends thought SF was stupid.  So, the two groups didn't often come together.

As my Academic career took off, my fiction took a back seat to nonfiction works.  In colleges and university, your status is enhanced by writing journal articles and doing research in your field, and writing textbooks. So, I did. And I published them fairly successfully. I was told several times that being a genre writer was not something most people valued in Academia and that I would be wise not to mention it if I wanted tenure.  Though in Information Technology there was some appreciation for my Science Fiction short stories, but that was rare. Consequently, until about five years ago, I didn't tell anyone that I wrote genre fiction.  Not that I was ashamed of it, but I just didn't think my friends in Academia would be interested. I'm not sure if times have changed, or I just misjudged them all those years. Once the word got out, many were interested in my writing--including the romances.

I am once again facing that same personality dilemma now that I am writing both adult novels and YA novels.  At first, I thought the two groups of readers and writers were unlikely to mix.  Most writers I'd met over the past decade were firmly in one camp or the other, and there were all kinds of "rules" about keeping those identities separate. Why, I wondered? Is it because adult romances have sex in them and YA does not? Come to find out, some YA novels do have sex in them and many adult novels do not. Hmmm. Was it because the themes of adult novels were too "adult" for teens?  Let me tell you some of the YA novels I've read were very hard for ME to read. Nope, I don't think that' the themes are watered down at all for teens.  I finally determined, there really weren't rules, just opinions.

My adult novels are sexy, but it is always within the confines of a committed adult relationship where that next step makes sense.  And, it is a romance, so it always ends with marriage.  And, honestly, as much as I like sex, it is not the main part of the story.  My YA novels do NOT have sex in them.  Yes, I know some teens have sex, I just don't think its wise that they do and I don't want to suggest with my books that it should be the norm.  There's too many other things teens need to accomplish during those formative years--finding an identity, successfully separating from family without losing closeness, figuring out how to balance the call of their hormones with the rest of their responsible lives, and, most of all, putting all that amazing energy to good works.  That is plenty without adding sex to the equation.

But there are also some similarities in all my writing.  My suspense novels have a futuristic twist which harkens back to my SF writing. My SF novel has suspense and romantic elements, which harkens back to my romance writing. My contemporary romances look at finding identity, overcoming wounds from past relationships, navigating the space where one person ends and the other begins and what is shared. These are often the themes of YA novels.  So far my YA novels are fantasy, urban fantasy, or some might call them paranormals. They all have themes of finding identity and navigating relationships.  After all, that really is what most of life is about.

So YA peeps, Adult Romance peeps, SF peeps, Fantasy peeps, and maybe even an occasional Academic peep, I hope they will all stop by.  The truth is, even though I have these different interests, I've always been just Maggie--but Maggie with secrets that kept one group separated from the other. I have to admit, it's nice being one person again and not worrying about who knows what.:)

How do you deal with your different peeps? Even if you're not a writer, you likely have different personas for different parts of your life--business persona? family persona? PTA mom persona? sexy wife persona? church persona?  Do you combine them all, or do you keep them separate?


Vonnie Alto said...

Like you, I come from a strong academic background. However, since I'm also pursuing genre fiction, I emphasize the romance peep over anything else. It always comes first in my bio. I also emphasize romance writing in my blog/website which I have yet to debut. Like you, most of my colleagues are interested in my other writings so it's easy to meld the two fields together. I look at it as a strength. It's what sets me apart from a lot of other romance writers because I have more to offer to my readers.

Maggie Jaimeson & Maggie Faire said...

Great comments, Vonnie. Thank you again for stopping by.