Facebook, WordPress, Twitter, ResearchGate, and now add Goodreads to the list. These are the social media platforms I am on where I publicly admit that I am a writer. Or at least trying to be one (again). Or something. While I am not sure exactly what it is I am trying to do by getting my Goodreads profile up and running (Friend me! Become a fan or whatever), I do know that it signals a merging of an older part of myself with what I am doing today.
I published my first book almost twelve years ago with the hope that it would be a book that people, well, read. I suppose a few have indeed read it (or at least bought it), but I know not many have given the meager royalties I have earned from it. Yet, I am fortunate, for each year a check for about fifty bucks comes in the mail and I treat myself to a new shirt or I buy a round of drinks when some friends and I meet for happy hour. Each year I have to fill out a particular part of my tax return that acknowledges that I have earned royalties – the word itself becoming humorous when the dollar amount is entered.
Back then, I wrote about sexuality and youth identity. Now, I write about my experiences in the world and in me. These disparate topics do not make good bedfellows on a social media page. My profile ends up looking like I have no idea who I am or where I am going. This is, to some extent, true. But in a lot of ways, it just shows how things can change in a decade. And how complex people really are. I am sure my favorite authors have as many varied interests as I do. They too can be hockey fans, feminists, karaoke queens, travelers, sexuality educators, striving cooks, and best friends all in one being. Yet somehow, when we “get to know them” online, their identity is much more refined, as if it was purposefully stripped down to make it easy on readers to understand the person behind the words we love so much.
But if I wanted to be included among those considered authors in Goodreads, I had to prove that I had written something worthy of publication. So I bring back my past in hopes of inspiring my future. But that’s not even it. A few of my most recent publications have been about youth sexuality, so this part of me is not completely gone, and I don’t want it to be. In fact, I go out of my way to be involved in this work. I write things, remain involved in collaborations, and conduct a little bit of research in my off time so I can hold onto this part of me – the part that can still claim to be a sexuality educator. A sexuality educator in a country where uttering a few incorrect words could result in losing my job. A sexuality educator who cannot ask the very questions of her students that she thinks about daily: What do you know about sex? What does a healthy romantic relationship look like to you? How many children do you really want? If you had your choice, would you choose who you were going to marry? What would that person be like? How would you get to know them?
It’s a good thing that us authors are more than the sum of our words. And that inspiration comes from so many places and experiences. I’d hate to feel that my writing was limited to one form, genre, or topic. Perhaps one day I will fall in love with an idea that keeps my writing focused again. Today I am grateful for the many outlets I have to express myself, even if they can seem overwhelming at times.