I’ve been doing this for a while now, and when I tell people what I write, one of the questions they frequently ask is “What does your husband think of that?” There are usually two subtexts under this question. One is “OMG you write TRASHY SMUT and your husband must not know because if he did HE’D PUT A STOP TO IT!” The other is, “Wow. Your husband must be One Happy Man.”
Cue the eye roll.
My flippant answer to either subtext is “I didn’t ask him.” If I’d decided to write literary fiction, in which a tiger and a man discuss the meaning of life while adrift in a boat on the ocean, no one would ask me that question. If I’d decided to write essays or short stories targeted for The New Yorker, no one would ask that question. But throw a little (okay, quite a bit) of sex and an extra player or two into the mix and people get…twitchy.
It’s kind of amusing.
The truth is that my husband’s been urging me to write romance for almost the entire duration of our marriage (coming up on 19 years) because he loves me and he knew I wanted to do this before I admitted it to myself. He admires the covers (and makes soothing noises about the less attractive ones). He helps me brainstorm on date nights. He consoles me through rejections. My writing time takes priority in our house. It doesn’t make any difference to him that I might be writing a scene involving a firefighter, a widow, and an EMT, all naked and naughty. I’m writing. I’m a writer. It’s what I do, who I am. He doesn’t judge the content of my subconscious.
As for the One Happy Man…yeah, it’s totally handcuffs and riding crops and “one night of passion that changes everything” around here because I’m totally taking the most intimate moments of our married life, fictionalizing them, and selling them on the internet for money.
Sarcasm aside, we did discuss the consequences, especially when it appeared I could make a career of this. I’m not in my life alone. We have a child. People are mostly supportive and kind, but occasionally stupid and cruel. These are not good reasons to reject a desire and a talent, however modest.
The third subtext to the question “What does your husband think about this?” is a genuine, gentle curiosity, untainted by OMGSMUTSMUTSMUT or a rather lurid inquisitiveness. In those cases, I tell the truth.
He thinks it’s awesome.