Time rushes by like a river after a massive downpour. I can’t believe “Breakfall” is coming out tomorrow, and I can’t believe I’m letting it happen.
This is not just a fluffy bit of fiction.
It’s personal. It shows too much.
Even though I changed genders and setting and plot elements, it’s still based on a formative event in my life. That event hurt, people, it hurt like a bitch. It took me down a few pegs and taught me the wisdom of the saying that “there’s always somebody better and stronger out there.”
That’s not what bothers me so much, though. I’ve never made any bones over the fact that I had once been sexually assaulted, that I lost the battle, that I won the war. I’d wear my scars like a badge of honor, because I won. The perp went to jail, and I went to learn other, more effective martial arts.
Had it not been for this guy kicking my door in while I was asleep, I’d have never explored all these other paths. I’d have never become a sweet, middle-aged woman, a bit broad in the beam, who’d make a really bad target for an ATM robbery. I’d have never learned to use Okinawan agricultural implements as weapons. Or use two swords at once. I’d have never learned how to shoot.
I’d have never written a book like this. Never in a million years.
Maybe I should send him a thank you note?
I had one of those pre-release panic attacks last night. It rocked me so hard, I skipped black belt class and snuggled with my husband instead. My husband, who had been my fiancée back then. The one who quit his job in the city and came back to the college so that he could have my back while I played bait, capturing a serial offender.
My husband has my back still, and I’m forever grateful.
“I feel like such a fraud,” I mumbled into his button-down work shirt, taking comfort in his familiar scent. “I don’t know why this book matters so damn much, but now people will know.”
“Which part makes you feel like a fraud?” he asked. Then he proceeded to dissect my anxiety with lawyerly precision.
No, the book doesn’t expose me to the perp, who is now free, any more than other books.
No, I never made that part of my history a secret.
No, I never made writing gay romance a secret.
Yes, I feel self-conscious about the martial arts aspects of it all.
Because that’s my passion.
That’s what I care about.
And I can do everything my characters do, but NOT WELL ENOUGH. And every single martial artist who’d met me in person will read my words, and know that I’m not nearly as good as Asbjorn or Sean. They will know that my sword cuts suck.
“But it’s fiction,” he said gently. “If you, as a straight woman, can write gay sex, you are certainly more qualified to write a fight scene.”
It’s just that, I care so terribly much about not misrepresenting something I love so dearly. Something that saved my life, that restored my sanity, that helped me rebuild my sense of self.
Except I still want to be as good as Sean and Asbjorn and Ken Swift and Nell. Despite the issues of gender and age and weight class, I strive to improve, step by painful step. I’m a natural-born klutz. I’m a linear learner. I don’t always feel where my body is in space, and it takes me longer to get it right than it takes the others.
Despite all that, for the sake of your entertainment, I hope my pen was mightier than my sword when I wrote “Breakfall.”