Writing Nonfiction About Coming Out – An Erotic Memoir

Currently, I’m writing an epic fantasy web serial, illustrating a webcomic, editing a science fiction novel, and posting episodes of an epic fantasy novel. I paused to finish and post the first part of my An Erotic Memoir. I couldn’t help it.

I write a lot of fiction. I also write nonfiction, from blogging to personal essays. I bloomed as a writer in college with research papers on Greek history, art history, feminist philosophy, and medieval culture. I still have my senior thesis on “Sex in the Middle Ages.” Ah, fond memories of the stuffy male classicists who lost their minds when I challenged their uncritical reception of heteronormativity. Good times.

Me and Mickey at a party in Tampa, 1991.

The essence of my life is communication, and much of that is through the written word. It’s amazing how much “communicating” I get done when I don’t have a girlfriend.

I was in the middle of another long day of editing Protocol One this weekend when I ran across an essay I started a while back. I told myself to check back later. But the damn thing wouldn’t go away. So I put editing aside. The best way to overcome temptation, after all, is to give in to it (that’s from Oscar Wilde).

I know my story site is called “webfiction,” which is why I do my personal blogging here, but nonfiction will appear there anyway. I think of that site as structured or formal writing. Here I just type.

How to Write a Memoir

First of all, am I too young to be reflecting on my life? I don’t understand age. I hear “I can’t believe you’re 56!” and I’m not sure whether that’s a compliment (“you look/act so young”) or an insult (“dear god, you’re old”). I feel old sometimes and terribly young at other times. In any case, I so hard recall the pain and joy from when I came out that it felt like the right time to reflect.

Second, how should one organize a memoir? If you’ve read many, you’ll discover some authors choose to see things chronologically. Some organize by theme. The best make connections to your life and life in general. I recall reading a biography of Sigmund Freud (Passions of the Mind by Irving Stone) in high school. It was novelistic and focused on developing his theory with plenty of scholarly details. It worked for someone like Freud. I’m nobody to you, but I may have something to share that will help you see your life more clearly or with kinder eyes. Or maybe I’ll be your cautionary tale.

I think of my life in eras and in sex. I’ve lived in such different ways and in different places at different times. Also, as an author of erotica, I’ve been asked why I choose to write sexually explicit stories. It’s not about the titillation. It’s about power, freedom, and honesty. If you read this first episode of my memoir, you’ll understand better.

What We Leave Behind

This first episode (An Erotic Memoir – Looking Back at Coming Out) is specifically about leaving my first marriage and coming out into the lesbian world in Florida in the 90s. When talking with friends, I often refer to the 90s as my “golden era.” I was finishing undergraduate and working, I was single, and I had a beach nearby. It was pretty perfect. The episode focuses on the first woman I ever loved.

Most writing is done in the edits. Editing is where you find the focus of your work and trim the fat. Oh so much fat. There remains much about those years that I didn’t mention: the cruelty of my husband that shocked me into maturity; my first mentor who was my boss and a lesbian who taught me life’s priorities; my studies and eventual decision against graduate school; my birth family who floundered but supported me; the many lesbians who had no love for me because they saw me as “sleeping with the enemy”; and the many lesbians who did love me.

For economic and family reasons, I moved back to Iowa, but Florida remains a poignant memory of fundamental growth. And sex. Lots of sex.

A Note About Astrology

I’m an astrologer. I’ve posted my natal chart and talked about transits, progressions, different house systems, and harmonics at various times and places.

When I stumbled across astrology in the 70s, I scoffed. I scoffed because I knew only what the critics said. Of course, many of them believed in an invisible, omniscient, omnipotent parent, but it took me a while to notice the hypocrisy. If your experience of astrology is daily sun sign updates, you don’t know astrology. That’s like thinking you understand Christianity from simply hearing there’s a thing called “the triune god.” I don’t argue the truth of astrology. It’s a faith like any other.

The reason I’m noting astrology in this post is because I said “the essence of my life is communicating.” It made me think of my natal chart. Communication/writing and sex are all over my chart.

teresa-natal-chart-astrodienst

Mercury is the planet of communication and it conjuncts my Nadir, the center of the self, in relational Libra. I was born with the New Moon in Libra in my 4th house, so my inner world is huge and rather romantic (not in the torrid romance way but the larger-than-life adventure way) and I feel compelled to share it (too much, some have said). Dreamy Neptune sits in visceral Scorpio squaring an aggressive 1st house Mars giving me grist for the erotic mill. The heavy hitters relentlessly driving me, Pluto and Uranus, are in industrious Virgo in my 3rd house of communication opposing challenging Chiron in my 9th of publication. Saturn, that bastard teacher, is in iconoclastic Aquarius in my 8th house of sex opposing Venus in Virgo, who just can’t stop analyzing every damn thing. My recent flood of creative activity started as transiting Saturn and Pluto entered my 7th house, opposing my Ascendant. With regard to transits, I can chart changes in my life particularly with Uranus crossing points in my chart and general eras with Pluto in the houses.

If you’re curious or interested in learning more, I suggest you start at astro.com, where you can make your own natal chart and get free short reports from some of the celebrities of astrology. But after that, read. Steven Forrest, Dane Rudhyar, Jeff Green.