Thursday, August 21, 2014

I was fired over erotic romance

I've wavered on whether or not I wanted to write this post at all, but the more I've thought about it today, and the more I've talked with those close to me, the more I knew I absolutely had to write this. This may come back to bite me in the ass some day, but that's a risk I'm willing to take to say what needs to be said.

As I've said before and will undoubtedly say again, erotic romance authors often face situations that writers in any other genre will likely never be subjected to. Family and friends make their disapproval known. Bosses do. Neighbors do. Everyone has an opinion on what we write, and some are quick to judge us for it.

Never mind the fact that those very same people are the ones cramming their Kindles and Nooks full of our books, catapulting erotic romances to record sales numbers in the US in recent years. And never mind the fact that there's a hell of a lot more to our stories than sex. Or that the research that goes into our stories is as exhaustive as that done by a writer in any other genre. Or that our stories touch on serious subjects that others shy away from – sexual abuse, drug addiction, human trafficking, PTSD, and how those very things shape our relationships and views of the world.

Because sex is such an obvious part of what we write, we're judged. Often unfairly. Often harshly. We lose friends. Jobs. Positions on the PTA. People read our books in the dark of night, but in the light of day, they whisper about how immoral or obscene we are.

My first novel with erotic elements isn't even out yet, but yesterday, I was fired for writing it. Not because I wrote it at work (I didn't, though I did work on FALL and Stricken during my downtime, neither of which are erotic in the slightest.). Not because I took time off to attend author events (I had the time, and how I use it is my own damn business.). Not because I neglected my job duties (I didn't. In fact, I managed to oversee one of the most active areas in the state by myself without interruption... even when FALL came out and my husband was in ICU at the same time). But because the story has sex in it and I dared email it to myself at work a total of four times over the course of a year and a half (and emailed myself one other erotic story once), with the latest email being four months ago.

Does that sound right to you? Me either. But there it is. I was fired because I dared email myself a novel with erotic sex scenes in it.

Never mind that the story deals with the real life costs of drug trafficking and abuse.

Never mind that the very real murder of an eighteen year old single mother inspired this story.

Never mind that I spent seven years obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees in Criminal Justice, Forensic Psychology, and Law in order to write the best damn crime stories I can write.

Never mind that I was damn good at my job and managed to do it with little to no oversight.

Never mind that my caseload was two to three times higher than the majority of people on my team and I kept up with it by myself.

Never mind that I did my job even when my husband was in ICU fighting for his life and even when I've been battling a serious injury for the last three months.

Never mind that I managed to do my job while my coworkers struggled to do theirs.

Never mind that I have never received any sort of warning (verbal, written, or otherwise) or write-up, on any job in my adult life, including this one.

Never mind that my coworkers spend their days surfing the internet, doing their schoolwork, sending chain emails, or twiddling their thumbs.

Never mind that I never shared the story with anyone at work. No clients saw it. No coworkers saw it.

Never mind that the books sitting on half of my coworkers' desks or in their phones, Kindles, and Nooks are erotic romances, which they read at work during their own lunch and break periods.

Never mind that they had to search through my email and my manuscript in order to find the sex scenes that bothered them so much.

None of that matters because I dared to misuse company equipment by sending myself, using my work email, a novel that I wrote.

Maybe I should be embarrassed that I got fired, but I'm not.

I'm annoyed that, in this day and age, a woman writing about sex is still considered such a taboo thing for some that it's worthy of a termination that requires said woman to be escorted from the building like a criminal.

I'm irritated that erotic romance writers are still harassed, judged, and otherwise considered somehow morally corrupt by some because they dare to write about sex even when the laws of the land no longer mesh with this same idea and the people judging it are the same ones reading it in droves.

I'm sad that all of the hard work I've done and all of the vulnerable Arkansans I've helped since I took this particular position meant absolutely dick when it came right down to it.

But I'm not embarrassed, and I refuse to be.

I'm proud of myself for being willing to tackle a genre that so many shy away from for fear of this very thing happening. I'm proud of myself for doing such a damn good job in my position that this is the only reason they had for firing me. I'm proud of myself for writing a damn good story that has made people laugh, cry, squirm, and view drug addicts as something more than a waste of space or another blight on society. I'm proud of myself for writing a story that has taught people about the seriousness of drug trafficking and the horrific situation in Mexico. I'm proud of myself for writing a story that's begged to be written since the day I sat beside my best friend and her infant nephew while her family buried his eighteen-year-old mother.

I'm not going to apologize for that.

Whether my bosses agree or not, I wrote a story that needed to be written, and I did a damn good job doing it. It's gritty. It's heartbreaking. It's sexual. It's hopeful. It's real. And I can't wait to, once again, share the story with the rest of the world. So I'm not sorry I wrote it. I'm not embarrassed. And I'm not going to be. What I did was no worse than what any of my coworkers have done, and I refuse to be told that it is or that I should be punished for daring to tell this story or sending it to myself at work.

I fully intend to appeal this decision, because I'm not the problem here, and neither is any other romance writer. What you write is beautiful. It's needed. And it is perfectly acceptable. So keep writing your asses off, and don't you dare let anyone tell you any differently.

xoxo,
Ayden
Your Friendly, Recently Fired Erotic Romantic Suspense and Bestselling Paranormal Romance Author

2 comments:

  1. I'm so proud of you!! I'm glad you're not just taking this from them. You deserve so much better!! I'm curious who your old bosses think is going to fill in and pick up all the work that you did there. It's definitely their loss!! Stand up for what you believe in and good luck in your fight!! They shouldn't be able to get away with this. I'm so proud of you!! :)

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  2. If you need me to make phone calls, write letters, drive down there and beat the stupid out of anyone, well, you know how to get ahold of me. You know that I, and probably 95% of your readers (at least), have your back and love you! I've known you for a couple years before you published, and I know what an amazing person you are on the inside and out, which is why I'm so outraged. Use that well earned, hard earned, law knowledge to sue their asses! Make sure you name names of the supervisors involved that let your coworkers laze away while you were busting YOUR ass to help the people of your community. YOU have done nothing wrong, other than be more creative, show more work ethic, and be a better person than all of them combined, which is why they had to find some extremely lame way to fire you. Was there budget cuts, so they needed to empty a position or two? Or someone has a niece, nephew or child that has the minimum criteria to fill your job that needed a job? No matter what their justification, they'll be kicking themselves in the head (much too serious to kick themselves in the ass!) once they realize how much work you really have been doing!! You know how to get ahold of me if you need a shoulder to cry on or someone to rant to about the whole injusticeness of the situation. (Yeah, I'm making up new words, but I believe this is fire enough to deserve it ;-)

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