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I wouldn’t feel the need to use a pen name. Wouldn’t feel the need to keep my writing to myself. I would talk about it openly among family and friends rather than vaguely.

The bulk of my family is heavily religious with some of them being the judgemental kind. Many are against the LGBT community. Many are against sexual activity in general. Many are misogynistic.

To give an example, I want to go into a story.

I write under two different pen names, this one where I feel free, feel as if I can write and publish and do whatever I want, when I want, how I want. Some people give me poor reviews, but I don’t read them, I don’t care. People are welcome to dislike my work because I’m doing something I enjoy doing and a stranger’s poor opinion isn’t going to take away this little pocket of freedom I claim.

The other pen name is known to my family, friends, and world. I place my face in my profile picture, I talk about my family. Instead of only putting words out for people to see, there’s me out there too and I’ve always been the kind to want to shy away from attention.

The first novel I published was under that pen name. A fantasy novel with a romantic subplot as most of them have, but with the focus on the fantasy world I’d built. I kept the story PG-13, similar to superhero movies that have been coming out the past ten years; younger people could read and enjoy with references only older people might understand.

Therefore, I did not have a single sex scene in this book.

So imagine my surprise when not once, but twice, I had someone in my family come up to me to tell me all about how weird it was to read a sex scene by their own family member, to the point of them doing the cringe/squeamish dance.

My reaction: “What sex scene?”

They were referring to two instances in the book: 1) I had the two leads wake up in the same bed, with one immediately leaving, no cuddling, no touching, and 2) a single paragraph somewhere else in the novel where I talk about them enjoying their time together. That was their sex scenes.

Can you imagine their reactions were I to hand them any of the books YOU may have read?

This is just one example, of course. There are other smaller examples, many that even have to do with my ‘clean’ pen name, that have made me over time remove family members from social media, etc. It makes me feel more capable of doing my own thing. I can go to work without family hovering over my shoulder, judging my daily successes or failures.

In fact, I’ve found it easier to have them think I’m not really writing at all, rather then tell them about what I’m doing.