I've got a couple of major insecurities. The first one is I'm hideous in pictures--the most unphotogenic person I know . When my first novel, TAKEN BY STORM, was being published, we lived in Switzerland. I freaked when my editor said they needed an author's photo. No "Glamor Shots" at the corner mall like they have here in the States. I went on Razorbill's website and all there authors were young and beautiful--glam to the extreme. What was I going to do? My daughter is a great photographer, so we went down to the lake and she took tons and tons of pictures. Most of them turned out like this:
Click image for a larger view.
I did manage to keep my eyes open and mouth closed in a couple of them. Then I discovered the wonders of iPhoto's retouch tools. All the sudden, I'm glam, too. But it so isn't real.
I gave my other deep, dark shame to the heroine in my debut novel, TAKEN BY STORM. Remember how awkward you felt when you were twelve to fourteen and started to develop? I'm still waiting for that to happen. Bring on the awkwardness. The bosom fairy lost my address and never caught up with me.
In high school it was so embarrassing. I never advanced beyond a training bra. There is an incident in TAKEN BY STORM where Leesie gets groped on the bus. That came right out of my experience. (Except there was no tall, dark, and wounded new kid to stand up for me.) I just cringed into myself and never said anything about it to anyone. I couldn't admit that it had happened enough to talk about it.
And, this is crazy, and stupid and I should not have felt like this but I did, the most humiliating thing about being violated like that was that I had nothing to grab. I felt exposed. My secret ripped away. (Not that it wasn't obvious to everyone who looked at me.)
I couldn't even let Leesie report the fictional jerk I created to grope her. She does discuss it with Michael and her online soul-mate, Kim. More than I allowed myself. But I couldn't get Leesie into that principal's office--couldn't let her mom find out.
And that is so wrong. We girls (and guys, too) need to stand up for ourselves. Any unwanted contact is harassment. Serious stuff. That kind of abuse makes wounds that need salve to heal. I know my daughter--and all my readers out there who I think of as daughters--are stronger than I was. She'd report it. You'd report it. And get help dealing with the emotional trauma that accompanies any abuse. And these days, you face so much worse than what I did. Protect yourselves. Be smart. Avoid being alone on dates. Don't let anyone pressure you into doing anything you don't want to do.
Love and romance is a wonderful thing, but not if we are destroyed by it. Or destroy someone else. Intimacy isn't a free for all. It's serious, powerful stuff. Handle with care.
All my love,