What I’m afraid of

It doesn’t make sense. Not literal sense, and not figurative sense.

Fiction is just that; fiction. As in not real.



I write fiction. Hence, I traffic in printed lies.

I know this, I accept this, and I have no problem with this. I actually prefer fiction to the opposite; sticking to facts is bothersome work. So much easier to make things up.

So that’s what I do. I walk the Earth, stumble across ideas that trigger responses deep within me, and then try to tell stories, pretty much lying my ass off the entire time.

And that’s the deal. I make up stories. Nothing I write is real, nor would any reasonable person mistake it for such.

So why are there areas I’m afraid to let my fingers type near?

My first novel contained brief bursts of violence, mostly near the finale. My second was violence-saturated, its plot only lightly interspersed with moments of pacifism. I’m not a violent person; I harbor no desire to commit brutality. If there’s one thing a Mennonite upbringing sadistically pounded into me, it’s that violence is never the answer. I’ve got a non-violent streak a mile wide.

Yet I have no problem with employing violence as a part of storytelling. Indeed (if I confront the issue honestly), during the writing of my last novel I looked forward each day to creating new ink-charged carnage. I actually tried to top myself each time, wondering how much more gruesome I could get.

And I never reached the bottom of the well. I could easily go deeper. I exist perched atop a yawning abyss of pure bloody mayhem, always at the ready to reach in and draw forth red wet chaos.

Because it’s not real.

But then, neither is fictional sex. My characters kill each other, yet no one really dies. It stands to reason they could have as much sex as they want with no consequences.

Yet when it comes to sex of the fictional variety, I falter. My characters find ways to avoid it. The plot spirals in new directions to ensure no one gets laid.

Is it because I’m a prude? I don’t think so. I don’t think I’m repressed, either.

Is it because my parents might read it? Why should it be? I’m completely fine with my mother reading about undead cannibalism, yet I squirm and squeam over the thought of her reading a love scene? I pen panoramas of gore rampant with amputations, bullet wounds, and internal fluids, but ask me to write of the intersection of two sets of genitalia and I get flustered. Even writing this post, I feel a little dirty.

I think it’s a two-pronged answer. One prong contains all the sexual fears of my childhood: my impure thoughts discovered, my masturbating walked in on. We’re trained from an early age to keep sexual urges to ourselves. Sometimes it’s religious pressure, sometimes it’s societal, but the effect on a young child’s soul is the same. Sex is fine and necessary; thinking about sex is wrong. Thusly, this boy would rather his parents think him a violent criminal than a gentle lover.

The second prong? Sex, as an act, is ridiculous. I’m not saying it’s wrong. But it’s silly. Two bodies slamming into each other is great for the participants but easily hilarious for the audience if not done with care.

So I’ve got the fear of sexual discovery in one hand, and the fear of sexual representation in the other.

And I’ve only got two hands.