29 May 2014

Writing What Scares You

I used to think I was a fearless writer.

Many writers worry about relatives or friends reading their sex scenes. I have no shame.

Many writers worry about finishing a story. I always get to the end.

Many writers worry about how people will judge them from their stories. I never did.

Until now.

I just completed a book that's the fourth full-length novel in the Phoenix Institute superhero romance series. It's entitled Phoenix Inheritance and it's due out next March.

I've never been so afraid of hitting send to my editor.

Why? Because it's essentially a book about motherhood and I'm terrified of being judged for how the heroine thinks, feels and react to her son, who is autistic.

That's because this heroine, Renee, is closer to me than any other heroine I've written. I'm a mother. I have an autistic son.

I'm already aware that some people judge me harshly for my choices about the best way to raise him. We're already so judgy in this country about parental choices and that judgement increases exponentially if you have a kid with special needs. But I know in real life that my son is happy and improving each year, so I can shrug off any judgements about what "they" think I should do and just follow what helps my son.

But now I've written a fictional heroine with a similar problem to send out into the world and I've never been more scared, not just for those not familiar with autistic kids but for those who deal with them every day. Did I explain it well enough? Is her fictional son realistic on the page? And does Renee seem far too occupied with her frustration and fear and thus seem bitchy? Will people hate her?

And, of course, I mean will people hate me?

Then I ask myself: if I'm so scared, why did I write this book?

Hah. Good question. Mostly, I wrote it for my son because any small understanding about autism gained by the public from reading a book makes things better for him in the future. I wrote it because I wanted people to know that "autistic" doesn't mean broken and that those with autism can have bright, happy futures. I wanted to write it to show how families can stick together and help each other.

And I wrote it because this was one of the few times I had to write a particular story.

Is Phoenix Inheritance all about autism? No, I hope it's a great lover's reunion story, mixed in with some intense action and some really sweet moments between a father, mother and their son.

They say writing a book should scare you. I've never understood that.

I do now.

Corrina Lawson is a writer, mom, geek and sometime superhero. She's the author of a new steampunk detective novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract, the Phoenix Institute superhero romance series and the alternate history Seneca series. In her non-fiction identity, she's the Content Director at GeekMom.com and blogs for CriminalElement.com.
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