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When Fiction and Real Life Collide

Lately I have been working on a new book. It's about a woman who keeps a journal at the behest of her lover, a dominant man who wants to explore her submissive side with her. As she moves deeper into the passionate relationship, she learns more about herself -- and him -- and in the meantime, they have some of the best sex imaginable.

Hot, right? Sexy, too. But here's the problem: The journal is my own, and the woman is me.

That might not seem like a problem. After all, writing about my sex life is not something I have ever shied away from. Several years ago I even wrote an erotic memoir. But this time, I find myself feeling a bit more guarded about my personal life. So the question now becomes: How much of it do I share? How much of this non-fiction book do I turn into a fictional story? How much of myself do I leave in the words?

Anyone who has ever written a short story, essay, book, or anything else that made it into the hands of readers has dealt with this. Even if the story is complete fiction, there is always an element of yourself in the words, isn't there? A turn of phrase you like to use, the name of a high school sweetheart, the fantasies that are in your head until they pour out onto the paper. We call it fiction because it hasn't actually happened, but there is some truth in everything, if you only look hard enough to find it.

But it's different when you start with the truth and attempt to fictionalize it. The real world is already there, and now you are trying to create something that hides the most delicate and vulnerable spots yet plays up the rest. It can be easy to write about the sexual act -- I mean, we're all adults here, so let's be honest. We've had sex, we've had great sex, emotional sex, hot and raunchy sex! You're reading erotica, or maybe you're writing it, and that means you've got sex on the mind.

Putting the sex out there is not the problem. Putting the emotion out there is where things become tricky.

So as I work on this new manuscript, I am faced with the daily question of how much to leave there, how much to take out, how much to change and how much to keep. Have you ever written something about your sex life and then chose to put it out there for public reading? How did you handle the delicate parts, the ones that showed off more than your libido? I would love to hear your comments!

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