Indie Author Weekly

160: The responsibility, risk, privilege, and choices involved in writing polyamorous romantic comedies

August 15, 2023 Sagan Morrow Episode 161
Indie Author Weekly
160: The responsibility, risk, privilege, and choices involved in writing polyamorous romantic comedies
Show Notes Transcript

“What made you decide to write polyamorous romcoms?” Today we’re answering THIS question!

In this episode, we address the luxury and privilege of talking about “controversial” topics such as polyamory and burlesque, the responsibility vs risks of being open about this, the concept of sharing your values without explicitly stating them, the reasoning behind my very deliberate decision to use the setting of contemporary romantic comedy to feature polyamory, and more.

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Welcome to the indie author weekly podcast where I take you on behind the scenes journey of my adventures as an indie author. Today we're answering this question What made you decide to write polyamorous romcoms? I'm your host Sagan Morrow and anytime polyamorous rom com other plus I've also written several business books for solopreneurs. Let's get into this episode. So this whole topic of what made you decide to write polyamorous romantic comedy novels. This whole topic came to mind earlier this summer, when I was hanging out with some friends from my burlesque dance class. Some of them were saying that they don't feel comfortable sharing about their dancing hobby on social media. They don't talk about it in workplaces. They don't want their employers or their colleagues or anyone like that to see it. And this is such an important factor to come into play. And this is really the exact reason why I chose my niche of writing about polyamory. There is a luxury and a privilege in being able to talk about topics that may be viewed as controversial, such as burlesque dancing, such as polyamory as a solo business owner with a very supportive family. I have the luxury of being very open and upfront and vocal and visible about these topics. Now it was scary when I first came out as polyamorous because I did it while I was still a freelancer while freelance that was when freelancing was really the main core of my business. And I was I was nervous I was worried because I, I wasn't sure if my freelance clients would be upset about it. I have one particular client who was you know, the main majority of my work came from them and I was a little bit worried that they would see me talking about it with our Facebook friends, and that they might fire me because of it. Now, it turned out that it was a non issue, if we actually never discussed it, and it was it was totally fine. But it was a little bit of a concern. Now as my business has grown, you know, as I continue to as it has evolved, as I've sort of changed my niche and I've I've switched from doing primarily freelance work to now doing a lot of coaching for other solopreneurs and that kind of thing. It is there's almost a freedom to talking about these types of things openly. Because it means I don't have to hide any part of myself. So even though it was scary to talk about it in the beginning, nowadays, I find that it is very liberating to be able to be so open about these types of things. And again, even though it was scary for me when I first started talking about polyamory, there was still a huge amount of privilege that I had because of the nature of my business because I didn't have employers because my my family is so supportive, because I knew that even if my biggest freelance client did have a problem with it, I could still find work and I still had other work. So it wasn't it wasn't going to be this huge, you know, detrimental to my whole business or anything like that. There is a freedom I find in talking about these things openly. And you know, back when I came out as polyamorous, which was in 2018. I even included it in my welcome email and I updated my social media bios, so that people knew immediately when they joined my email list. When they found me on social media, they knew immediately that I am polyamorous and therefore if they have a problem with it, they don't need to feel like I've blindsided them or anything. Like that. I'm upfront about it. If anyone has a problem with it, they can immediately leave and that's fine, no hard feelings, but if it's an issue for them, they know about it right away and they know that I am not the person for them.
I recently reworked my welcome email sequence in my solopreneur diary entries newsletter, and I actually specify in it all kinds of potentially, you know, quote unquote, controversial values and beliefs. So not only do I now have in there the fact that I am polyamorous, but I've also included it's an entire email, you know, part of my welcome email sequence for the Filipino diary entries. I have one of the emails as part of those sequence is here is my values. These are some of my values. And I have in there things like I believe in gun control, and I support mass mandates and I believe in a woman's right to choose all of these different types of things. The idea behind sharing all this stuff is is exactly the same as including it including polyamory and my social media bios, simply so that people can see right away. If they have a problem with these types of values and beliefs, then they know that I'm not the right person for them. And we can you know, we can disagree on some things. Absolutely. Right. We can have different ideas on certain topics, but some topics more than others, right? And you can also have your own opinions about things. But if you have a problem with my beliefs, my beliefs and my value system, then I'm not going to be a good fit for you if you have an issue with the things that I value I believe in.
Now I'm going to go on a slight tangent here, a little bit of a sidebar, because I do not necessarily believe that you need to talk about every belief and value in such direct terms. All right, you can convey a lot of your beliefs and your values and the undertones to the things that you say and the way that you'd say them. So case in point I have had my email list for about a decade, and although I consistently send newsletters every single Saturday and I have been doing so this entire time. I didn't actually directly speak about politics to my email list until Trump was elected. And so when that happened in that email, I spoke about how devastating it was that Hillary Clinton was not elected. And even with an email list of about 3000 people, I only had one person respond negatively negatively to that and unsubscribe as a result.
Otherwise, that the unsubscribes that I got were just the normal types of unsubscribes the normal amount of unsubscribes that I would typically get from any of my emails. The reason why only one person responded negatively and unsubscribe specifically because of it is because the vast majority of people were not surprised at all to hear that I would support Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. That did not shock them. They knew my values based on the types of stories that I share in my weekly newsletter and the way that I talked about things, the way that I approached different topics. Since 2020, the world has been in flux and many people have become more quote unquote polarizing in their content. And something that I saw a lot of online business owners talk about especially in 2020 was how they were really happy about how many of their followers were unsubscribing when they spoke up about their politics. They were saying things like if you don't approve of my politics, then you can leave and if so awesome. You're getting so many followers and unsubscribes and celebrating all these people leaving now that I've spoken up about my values.
And okay, here's the thing about this. Yes, on the one hand, it is a good attitude to take, but you don't really want people following you if they have a problem with your values. But when all these online business owners were talking about that, and essentially bragging about how many people were unfollowing them and subscribing because they were speaking about their values. I was thinking, Wait a second, why would your followers not know what your values are? This should not be news to them. They should not be surprised about this. If they are unsubscribing and unfollowing. You now that you're starting to speak up about these types of things. That's a huge disconnect. There is something going on here where you have been hiding a huge amount of something that is apparently important to you. If your followers do not know certain values of yours that are really important to you, you are doing your community a disservice.
Now, this again was a complete sidebar. It is much more relevant. If you have a business. If you are not a business. If you do not have a business, then it's going to be vastly different for you. Okay, there is a difference between business owners talking about their values, versus people using social media for personal use.
And even as a business owner, of course, you get to be the one to choose what you share. You get to decide that you get to decide what types of values you want to share with your followers. You get to decide how transparent you want to be. It really is a very, very personal decision. But if you find that you are a business owner and you start talking about a particular value of yours that's really important to you. And suddenly a bunch of people are exiting your space, they are unsubscribing they're unfollowing. Well, that might indicate that there has been a huge gap in your communications. Your followers, your community should not be shocked to find out what your values and beliefs are. Okay, so again, this was a total sidebar. If you aren't curious to see the types of things I included in that book an email I mentioned before in my solopreneur diary entries newsletter, you can visit Sagan morrow.com/newsletter. If you're curious about self promotion, that kind of thing, then I would actually recommend that you sign up for that particular newsletter. I will drop that link in the show notes as well. So getting back to the actual core topic of our episode, this question of why do you write polyamorous romantic comedies? Okay, so, we want to get back into you know, this whole concept of there can be a freedom to talking about things openly. And of course, there can also be some fear wrapped around in these types of things. And again, there is a luxury and a privilege in being able to talk about different topics that may be seen as controversial. So there's a lot of things that definitely go into determining whether you want to talk about one thing versus another. Now another part of the reason for why I like to write polyamorous romantic comedy novels is I feel there is a responsibility and a duty for me to do this. So that I can pave the way for other people. So that over time, this will no longer be controversial. And this is also why I talk about things like the burlesque dance that I do, so that in the future, it might be years to come. It might be decades to come. But what I want is for people like my friends to not feel like they need to hide it if they want to be able to talk about it with our colleagues. And their employer. Were talking about it on social media, I want them to have the opportunity to do that. Now maybe they would not want to talk about that with their employer or their colleagues or on social media. And that's great too. But I want to help normalize these types of things. And I view it as my responsibility as someone with the luxury and the privilege and the opportunity to do this. I see it as my duty to normalize it so that they get that opportunity down the line so that it doesn't feel stressful for people like them, so they don't have to worry about the idea of what if I get fired over this because I dance burlesque. What if people don't like this, what if I miss out on work opportunities, all of those types of things. I view this as a responsibility when we have this degree of privilege and we have the opportunity to share about these types of things and the risks are way lower for us than it gives us this chance to talk about things I want to pave the way I want to make this so much easier for so many more people, even if that is years to come. I want to do this work now. So that three years from now, 30 years from now and onwards. It is easy and normal for people to talk about. Oh yeah, I do burlesque dancing. Oh yeah, I'm polyamorous whatever it might be.
I want this to not be something that is controversial anymore.
The last point I think that I want to mention here is that I really love being able to share about polyamory through the fun, lighthearted lens of romantic comedies. The stakes are way lower for my characters in romantic comedy settings, compared to how polyamory is typically portrayed in fiction. As a general rule, polyamory is often featured with more of a dramatic or edgy or set in society is very different than ours, right? That type of thing. Maybe futuristic, or fantasy or historical, the stakes are often a lot higher in those types of settings. And there is a distance between the reader and the polyamory because it's set in situations that the reader themselves is not is not in, right, if it's futuristic, if it's fantasy, if it's historical, all those genres are great and I love that polyamory is often in those settings. But my choice to write about polyamory in a contemporary romantic comedy setting was very deliberate. I want readers to be able to see themselves closely in the characters. I want them to be able to see how extremely realistic the concept of polyamory can be for their own relationships or for the people around them. This is not because I think that polyamory is better than monogamy, right? Any of these things can be great. All relationship styles are wonderful. But I want readers to be able to see polyamory as a viable option in case they haven't ever seen it as something viable for themselves. Or in case we need to see what it can look like so that they can support their own loved ones who might choose polyamory for themselves. All of those types of things. The only real issue with polyamory in futuristic settings, or fantasy or historical or whatever it might happen to be is that the reader can then look at it and they can go, oh, well, polyamory works in that setting. In a fantasy land, polyamory is legitimate. And in futuristic societies, polyamory is legitimate, whereas I'm bringing it back to contemporary settings. polyamory is legitimate. Now, it is a valid choice in this reality that we live in. And by having that romantic comedy aspect to it, it's fun. It's light hearted, the stakes are again, much lower for my characters than if it was some other kind of genre where you know, there's crime, murder, those types of things, right. We want to keep it light and fun with my novels. So that people can really see Oh, polyamory can be fun. polyamory doesn't need to be this like extremely complex, difficult, challenging experience. It can be a lot of fun and joyful and you know, relatively quote unquote easy to do this.
So those are some of the big reasons for why I like writing polyamorous romantic comedies that is really while I do this, many people do not have the luxury and the privilege of vote of being open about these types of things. So again, I see it as my responsibility to help normalize it, and also to help readers see the viability of it for themselves or others in their life if they haven't had the opportunity to see it portrayed this way before. At the end of the day, this is a very personal decision. Whatever you happen to choose to share about yourself is extremely personal and you are the only one who gets to make that choice for yourself. I would also say safety first, you know career first, I am happy to do this work so that you don't need to take the risk, especially when the stakes are higher for you than it is for me. If your family is not supportive. If you are in a career where you were dependent on other people for your job and those types of things. The stakes are going to be higher for you. And you might decide that it's not worth it to be open about it and that is okay. That is why I am doing this. I am doing this for you down the line. I'm doing it for other people like you. This gets to be your decision. It's a very personal decision. And again, safety first right if this if this is a safety issue for you, or if your career is in jeopardy, it's okay it is more than okay. Please put those types of things first, and those of us who can take on more risk, we will do that we will do that work for you. Okay, I am happy I am. I'm very, very happy to take on this responsibility so that you don't need to worry about these types of things.
Now, I do talk more about these topics in a couple of past episodes here on the MDR weekly podcast. You can tune into Episode 50 and episode 51 on the podcast for more details about these topics for why I write about polyamory and how my polyamorous passion series first came into being. I will pop those links in the show notes as well.
So there we have it. Those are some thoughts about the reasoning for why I talk about these different types of things. And again, just going back to that sidebar that I had brought up earlier, there is a difference if you are a business owner talking about certain things versus if you are talking about things personally. But even if you are a business owner of course the stakes are can still be higher for you the risks can still be higher. So you do not need again, you do not need to talk about any of these different types of things. And also if you are a business owner and you start talking about certain issues or beliefs, and it results in a whole bunch of people exiting, then that does indicate a disconnect with the way that you're talking about things because again, you do not need to talk about things in no uncertain terms. You do not need to talk about things directly for people to get a vibe of what your values and beliefs are. And I think that this applies to everyone. If you are an individual if you are if you're using social media, that type of thing personally, or if you are a business owner. You don't necessarily need to talk about things that are you know again, quote unquote, controversial. In those exact terms, you can look at other ways to express your values and belief systems. So if the stakes are higher for you, but you still want to talk about these different types of things, then I would encourage you to think about the way that you express certain things or the way that you talk about different concepts on social media, the types of things that you are sharing, what are some of the ways that you can express your values without actively putting yourself out there and potentially risking yourself if you are not prepared to take that risk? So really explore this concept of you know, if I do not want to say that I support polyamory, what are some of the ways I can talk? About Love in general, right, if this topic is totally important to me, and I want people start thinking about things in different ways. How can I talk about this topic maybe on the adjacent side of it, so speak into it in more of a roundabout way or speaking to other things on the periphery about it so that I can start to show people more of my values and belief systems without needing to explicitly express exactly what I think and I believe, so that's something to consider. If you want help with doing that, we can absolutely explore that in a coaching session. You can visit Sagan morrow.com/coaching, to see sort of what that type of thing might look like for yourself. We can kind of look at the different types of messaging that you might want to use or the different ways that you can express yourself and express your values without needing to say, this is specifically what I believe, okay, because again, that is something that I was doing for years. And here's with my email list with my social media platforms. It didn't shock people when they heard about my politics and my values, even though I had never explicitly stated what my politics and values were prior to that. And so this can be true for you as well. You can absolutely take that route. If that feels more comfortable for you, then please do that instead. All right, that is a wrap for today's episode. If you have additional questions about this topic, if there are other topics similar to this or completely different that you would like me to address here on indie author on indie author weekly, I would love to hear about it. You can submit your topic ideas at Sagan morrow.com/question. The link is in the show notes. Access the show notes for this episode, including all links and additional resources at Sagan morrow.com/podcast. And also please do share your thoughts on this episode on Twitter or Instagram. My handle is at Saganlives, please take two minutes to rate and review in the other weekly on Apple podcasts. Thank you so much for tuning in and I will see you next week for another episode of Indie Author Weekly.