Is it that I lack the physical ability to do a sit up, or I simply won’t make the effort? Every day there are plenty of things I think I can’t do, but the truth is, I could, but I won’t. I don’t think I’m alone in this sleight of mind.
That might account for why, when other adults tell us they can’t do something, we wonder if it’s really a case of won’t. It might explain why, when any of us say “I can’t,” we hear back, “You just won’t try.” Or, “You could if you put your mind to it.”
When Do We Believe Ourselves and Each Other?
Not having any significant physical or neurological challenges, it took me far too long in life to realize that being believed about can’t versus won’t is a daily struggle for everyone with invisible neural and physical differences. They tell the world they can’t do something. The world decides if it believes them.
This reality is complicated by shifting goalposts in day-to-day life. One day a person with chronic fatigue can reach the top shelf and another they can’t. One day a person with anxiety disorder can listen to an argument between friends and another they can’t. All the while knowing that the people around them may see this unpredictability as won’t.
It’s a central conflict for Paris Ellison, in My Lady Lipstick. Living with anxiety disorder, and having survived debilitating panic attacks, she has taken self-protective measures to avoid triggers. It’s also a conflict for Diana Beckinsale, the titular Lady, who lives a life full of audacious certainty that she can do things most people wouldn’t even think of. But what about all the things she believes she can’t do? Like feeling desire and loving another woman?
Do they both know which limitations are immutable and which could be navigated, especially with love and support? How do they live with the reality of their can’t so there’s room for I can and we can, together?
Like in any great love story, trust is the key, but how does trust flourish when everything they know about each other is predicated on a pile of lies?
All of these questions are the beginning of their story.
Anita Topaz, Queen of the Bodice Rippers, is deliberately a woman of mystery. But pressure is mounting for Anita to reveal herself to her clamoring public. It’s scrutiny that writer Paris Ellison can’t allow, especially since the glamorous “Anita” is a work of pure fiction.
Lady Diana Beckinsale excels at disappearing into a good role. Especially if that role gets her close to certain objects she desires. When Diana proposes the perfect solution to Paris’s predicament, Paris is less than enthusiastic. She can’t let someone as unsettling and observant as Diana get too close.
But Diana is persistent. After all, if she and the handsome, secretive Paris both get what they want out of an unorthodox arrangement, then it’s a win-win for them both.