Sex, Writing, and my Mother-in-law

When people think of Valentine’s day, they may think of love and romance, or candy and jewelry, or, of course, sex. Personally, I like the last one. 😉 So, in the words of Salt-N-Pepa, let’s talk about sex.

As I have said before, I didn’t set out to write romance. I really wanted to, but as soon as I mentioned writing a novel to my mom, she immediately jumped in with something to the effect of, “I hope you aren’t going to write romance, because I won’t be able to read anything you write if it has sex.” It didn’t matter that I have been married almost nine years, or that Pookie and I lived together for two years prior to that. She still wants to believe that her little girl knows nothing at all about sex.

So, being the good little obedient daughter, I tried writing everything but romance. Still, even with short stories, it always turned into a romance. What can I say, I am a romantic at heart. And even my priest will acknowledge that sex is an integral part of a committed (marital) relationship. We were told so by another pastor in our premarital counseling, “marriage basically gives you permission to have sex as much as you want.”

Needless to say, my novel quickly turned from light-hearted chick lit with no focus on romance to a full-fledged romance, with the perfect set-up for passionate sex in more than one place.

Why just the set-up you ask? Because as soon as I would start to write about clothing flying in every-which direction, the words of my dear mom would sneak back into my head. And I hit a wall. I kept thinking about my mom reading what I was writing. Even though the words were there in my head, I couldn’t get them down on paper (or screen).

And then it got worse. I pictured my mother-in-law reading it. And my grandmother. It was like I was giving them a glimpse of something they didn’t need and certainly didn’t want to know about me. (OK, to be honest, while my mom may like to keep anything sex related locked down like it has national security implications, my grandmother—her mom—is the female equivalent of the stereotypical dirty old man. When she heard I was writing romance, she was excited, and said she hoped it had a lot of sex, the steamier the better. Somehow, that made it worse.)

So, I sat there, with my perfect lead-in, starting at that damned blinking cursor as it taunted me. Your (flash) mom (flash) is (flash) going (flash) to (flash) read (flash) this (flash). Finally, I got fed up. I needed to get on with the story. So, I typed: [insert sex scene here]. Then I highlighted it in pink, and went on with my story.

Actually, first I sent it to Kaye and told her I was thinking of just leaving it like that. Sparky responded by saying it was fine, because “pink is sexy.” Have I mentioned how supportive our husband’s are? Even when they really shouldn’t be. (Pookie agreed with him.)

So, I have a first-draft of a novel that really isn’t done, because there are four places in the novel where it says:

[Insert Sex Scene Here]

Somehow, I doubt anyone is going to be interested in my book unless I can get over it and write the scenes I am picturing in my head, no matter how sexy Pookie and Sparky find pink to be.

Now it is Valentine’s day—a holiday basically devoted to sex. (Unless we are eight, no one actually believes that husbands are willing to pay $75 for a bouquet of flowers that would normally cost $25 only because we are so charming, right? As far as I know,we all see right through that and acknowledge that they also (really) want sex.)

In honor of the holiday, it is time to make my grandma proud. And Pookie blush. I am not sure how, but I am determined to make both happen today. Any suggestions?

Have any of your family members ever been freaked out at the idea of you writing about sex? Did it make it more difficult for you to write love scenes? How did you get past it (or are you still trying to figure it out like me)?

About Susi Borath

Susi Borath finds time to write between freelance marketing jobs, minor league baseball games, creating new cookie recipes, and juggling more laundry than any two people should be able to produce. You can find more about her at or follow @susiborath on Twitter.
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9 Responses to Sex, Writing, and my Mother-in-law

  1. Kaye Peters says:

    I have to agree with Sparky, pink is very sexy. When I first started reading romance my mom would comment how she already read what I was reading. I would freak out because the nature of some of the sex scenes and to think that my mom read it. I just felt icky.
    However, when I write it I’m ok with the prospect that my mom will read it. Actually, thinking of it, she probably won’t, she maybe uncomfortable. But for me to write it, well, I actually look forward to it. Unfortunately, sometimes I get carried away and before I know it I give the guy four hands, each doing something different. Such as one is taking down her hair, while the other one is unbuttoning her shirt, while another one is unbuttoning his shirt and lastly the other one is lowering her to the bed. Yeah, four hands. Well, come to think of it, wouldn’t that be grand? Hm, maybe I’m writing wishful thinking? Maybe I sub-genre in fantasy. Going to have to think about that.

    • Ana Quinn says:

      Actually, I tried writing some today, and I am having the same over-ambitious problem. He can only have 2 hands (and one mouth and…). You would think that after 9 years of marriage I would be able to give a decent description. Guess I am just dreaming again! 🙂

  2. 2blu2btru says:

    My mother and I trade Harlequins back and forth, yet we’ve never really had “the talk”. Once I was an adult, she would say, “just make sure you’re protected” or something or other. She was very relieved I planned to stay a virgin until I was married (I’m still waiting to be married). I think she’d be very proud if I ever wrote a romance worthy of Harlequin (and she’d actually read what I’d written, for once :D). The only problem is I wouldn’t be writing what I know at this point.

    • Ana Quinn says:

      My mom was the opposite, surprisingly. She had “the talk” the first time when I was young (under 10). She was very up-front and open to talking about anything when I was growing up. It just seems to be now that I am married that she just doesn’t want to know (not that I blame her). I think she looks at anything I write to be a description of my actual life, rather than a fictional story.

  3. Catana says:

    Good for your grandma. I haven’t written any sex scenes yet because, strictly speaking, my stories aren’t really romances. But I have a feeling that a few of them might be waiting in the wings. I also haven’t thought any further than what my sons and their wives will think of my books. My grandkids might read them when they’re older? Oh my gosh. But nobody’s spirit is going to be hanging over my shoulder. I’ll write what the story requires. I’m not sure pink would work for me, though.

  4. Kaye Peters says:

    The way I look at it is that love and sex are a part of life. Almost every story, whether its murder/suspense, romance, fantasy, whatever, if its based on real life there is going to be some type of romance in it. People are emotional beings; in my opinion to accurately tell a story about someone’s life there should be an aspect of love in it. It could be about a lack of love or involving love in a relationship. That’s just life.
    Not every story has to have sex in it because there are other parts of relationships that need to be shared. I hate reading well developed books that grab my attention from the get-go, but then they ruin it by trying to throw in a love scene were it doesn’t fit. Almost like they have to fill a quota.

  5. Catana says:

    “I hate reading well developed books that grab my attention from the get-go, but then they ruin it by trying to throw in a love scene were it doesn’t fit. Almost like they have to fill a quota.”

    I know exactly what you mean. I recently read a wonderfully written novel that showed in a gradual, fairly subtle way that the two protagonists were becoming attracted to each other. Then in the very last chapter, the author threw in a very graphic sex scene, and it completely blew me out of the book’s atmosphere and mood. Thank goodness it was the last chapter or I might not even have finished reading the book.

  6. Pingback: A Novel Connection: Books, Parenting, and Puberty | Have Coffee… Will Write

  7. Pingback: Why YA? (and the return of the little pink box) | Susi Borath

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