The stories we tell are like our clothing, our personality, curated for exhibition. We go shopping in the racks of our own histories, selecting pieces that create the style we want. Having a story added without your permission is like getting a tattoo you didn’t ask for: you can hide it, or you can try to own the narrative. Pretend you wanted it all along, laugh at yourself for allowing it, hope it doesn’t sabotage the rest of your look, the stuff you picked out on purpose. So I changed the story to try and make it fit: which parts I told, what the moral was.
This link appeared on my FB newsfeed and as I was about to leave a comment, I realized that what I was about to write had a lot more to do with why I write than a mere commentary on someone else’s post.
This piece struck home for me because it’s happened to me many times. I guess they’re what you call my #MeToo moments. Whether I was too young then or immature, flattered that an older man thought me pretty or sexy and not understanding what was going on, I allowed things to go too far for me to stop. And maybe in some instances, I did stop it, and I say that only because I don’t remember what happened next.
A few days ago, a writer friend and I were talking about the stories we’d written that were still hidden away. Maybe they’re unfinished or maybe we don’t consider them good enough to be sent out into the open and packaged as one of the books to fill our backlist. That’s when I said something about the stories I used to write, dark romance, dark stories, most of them led by a heroine who killed people she felt wronged her. An avenging angel. I told my friend that when I gave the stories to someone who had loved my Celtic fan fiction romance stories, she promptly unfriended me and said, I can’t believe you actually write such vile dark stories… or think such things. I can’t be friends with someone like that.
I stopped writing my dark stories then although now and then, under MorrighansMuse, I wrote them and attached them to fanfic worlds. They were dark and dealt with issues like sexual abuse, rape, and vengeance—stories I wrote in an attempt to figure out all the things that happened to me yet, ironically, stories that would never see the light of day under my name.
Compared to what I write as Liz, it’s hard to believe I wrote such dark stuff but that’s why my secret pen name came to be. I love writing my angsty romance stories that explore human condition against a backdrop of romance, but I also need to write the ones that bring back the darkness, the ones that were “written” without my permission by the men (and women) I trusted when I was too young to know better. I need to be able to stand in front of that darkness and be strong and not let it win like it has time and time again in my real life, by telling me I’m not worthy again and again. And again.
My #MeToo stories will never be unwritten. They’ll always be there. But maybe that’s why we write the stories we write, to write over the ones written without our consent, leaving their stain again and again on our souls whenever we believe them. It’s time to write the stories we believe.