Was it murder--or something serious?
Philip Marlow in Murder, My Sweet

Friday, September 12, 2014

In My Experience...

When it comes to matters of style and craft, there is no more irrelevant comment than..."As a gay man..." or "As a married woman..." or "As a yoga instructor of ten years...." or "As someone who has suffered mental illness..."

This is not to say that one's personal experiences and history are not of interest. They might even perhaps be of consequence when it comes to fictional content. Although that's unlikely if the writer has done her research and has sufficient imagination. Or has her own personal experience to draw upon. The ending of my first marriage was probably unlike yours. My college experience was probably not yours. My bouts with various illnesses may not resemble yours. My writing career is probably quite different from yours.

We all want to believe that our human experience is the definitive one, but...not so much.

So even when it comes to content in fiction, the reader who objects to something based on their own personal experience is generally skating on thin ice.

And when they try to apply their personal experience to matters of craft they are, quite simply, talking through their hat.

It might be a top hat or a beret or a cloche knitted by their granny. The point is their hat is not my hat. Their bag is not my bag.

I am so weary, weary unto flipping DEATH of our increasing narcissism as a society and an industry. I don't want to get specific here because I am always bumping into the difficulty of What Would Diana Do. I'm quite serious. Running several different writer personas has resulted in my only being myself in one corner of my writing universe (and it's the corner where most of my mainstream friends are astonished, even appalled to find me leaning on a lamppost, cigarette hanging from my lips as I coolly appraise all passersby).


Anyway. The result of this decades long balancing act has been...well, difficult. And I think I've reached the breaking point. I can't be everywhere at once, and that has resulted in my giving up half my writing career. And I have come to resent that. Also, I grew weary of subtle attempts at blackmail and coercion (oh, I kid you not!) and simply the fear that others might not understand. I guess I no longer care if others understand or not. And maybe that comes from having managed to achieve a ridiculous amount of success by being myself -- even when that "self" is unrecognizable to a lot of the people who believe they know me best.

It could all go away when the truth comes out. Although I know many, many people already know the truth and are simply, courteously and kindly waiting for me to choose my moment.

And now I really do sound like my bout of mental illness is not YOUR bout of mental illness. :-)

This has all come to a head with my decision to return to mainstream -- and the lesser decision to attend Bouchercon. It is the freakiest thing in the world to try and attend a conference like Bouchercon and somehow conceal what I've been doing for the past how many years? To conceal my experience and success...heck, just my output (60+ bestselling books in how many years?!)

And so I am thinking a great deal about how to handle this. I dread the idea of hurting people. And there will
be people who are hurt. The people who will be shocked, I could care less about. But the readers -- even writer friends -- who I've felt it necessary to conceal the truth from? I am sick about this. It's what has kept me silent for the years since sabbatical.

And it's not like I'm ever going to discuss my whys or wherefores. There isn't going to be some dramatic announcement in that sector of the universe. I'm never going to delve into my personal experience as far as sexuality or gender or any of that. The very idea makes me feel faint. It's no one's business. I am appalled to find myself living in an age where so many people believe these things ARE other people's business.

I expect the re-release of Murder in Pastel will take care of much of it. I'm doing it quite consciously and deliberately, but there will still be those who think they've stumbled onto some inadvertent revelation. And I'll just have to politely put up with it.

Anyway. That was quite a digression! More later.


  1. Oh, and for the record, I've only had the one marriage. ;-P

  2. One marriage, huh. What I want to know is were all the bodies are buried. ;-)

    I don't think you need to agonize too much over your real identity coming out. Some people may be hurt, but I suspect most will be quick to forgive and forget. As you said, lots of people already know anyway, so I think lessening the stress of maintaining separate personas sounds like a sane and healthy approach to managing your writing career at this point. And I’d like to add, IMVHO neither of those personas is your true social self because you’re censuring aspects of who you are for both.

    Could your success turn to ashes? Anything is possible. But our fears rarely materialize as catastrophically as we’re convinced they will, and I can’t see that happening. Your reputation in the community, plus your extensive back-list, audiobooks, foreign rights, etc. is too solid.

    I really hope resuming some part of your Killian writing will be satisfying and rewarding for you.

    Good luck at Bouchercon!

    1. Well my "true" personality would be a reclusive writer type who can go days on end without speaking or interacting with anyone beyond the voices in my head. ;-) Although Mr. Thrilling, patient though he is, draws a line at that.

  3. 'Censoring' aspects of who you are *and* 'where' the bodies are buried. Sheesh.

    I picked up the audio version of High Rhymes the other day when I was going through my Kindle purchases looking for matching Audible bargains, but I didn't see any new Killian titles. Did you change you mind about MIP?

    1. MIP won't be under Diana. That belongs with the JL backlist. JL will continue to be the focus of my output -- that's where my best work is (and the work I most enjoy) -- but I don't want to be unable to write other things. That's really what this is about.

    2. Oh, I see. I literally do go days without talking to anyone but the cat and the SO. The cat actually listens. Sometimes. It's male too. :)

      Argh!!! Change 'your' mind.