Right now I’m cobbling together a living from a handful of small jobs. I am trying to find a single large job that will replace the income. It’s not six of one, half a dozen of the other – switching between jobs, manager styles, project needs, writing voice, tracking systems, reporting systems, and all that other stuff takes time. If I have one job and not six jobs, I will have twice as much time in my day. I know this from experience – I finished two manuscripts when I only had one job, and for the last month, I’ve made painfully slow progress on several stories, one of which is begging me to finish already.
An opportunity to do some tech writing came up, and honestly, it would pay so much better than my professional blogging, so I’d love to land the gig. The contact person asked me to dig up all of my product reviews from the last few years. Five minutes with Google, right? Twenty minutes later, I was still digging for the best one, the crown jewel of my reviewing career. The magazine that published it was out of business, but they’d had it on their website, and it had been so widely quoted and linked that surely there was a cache. Right? Wrong.
There are pictures of me weighing twenty pounds more than I do now. Things I have said off the cuff are in forum signature files all over the internet and they come up when you Google my (other) name. There are video clips of me doing unfortunate things with thumb drives at trade shows. And yet this ONE THING I really want, the thing that makes me look witty and incisive and well-informed? Gone like a fart in the wind.
Warning: The link contains language that is NSFW (not safe for work, if you’re new to acronyms). I don’t know why you’d be visiting an erotic romance author’s website if the f-bomb troubled you, but better safe than sorry.
At any rate. Kate Harding is a wonderful writer. She writes essays and blogs on feminism, fat acceptance, and more. I came to her site originally when I was asking Google for help with a friend’s situation – his wife had been a big woman before they got engaged, lost a lot of weight right before he proposed, and was back up to her normal weight before the wedding, and I was trying to tell him “Dude, this is the shape she is and all the weight loss tricks and products aren’t going to change that in the long run.” Kate says that with biting wit and incisive observation.
But what got me going most recently was this link, which was actually in response to someone else.
Women, generally speaking, waste so much time with self-deprecation. We don’t wait for the world to dismiss us. We come up with all the reasons why we’re not good enough to be successful. That’s some seriously internalized bull doots, right there. But wait, there’s more.
Erotic e-publishing is something nearly everyone does under a pen name. Some of us are doing it to protect professional reputations in other fields. But here’s the thing – out of all the various types of publishing, erotic e-publishing is the only genre where other writers sniff and say “Oh, you’re not really published.” Oh? I’m not? I’ve got a contract with Harlequin that says I am. “The standards are lower with erotic e-pubbing, anyone can break in.” There are a lot more e-pubs out there, because the demand for these stories is so high. New publishers that can’t pay well due to the lack of volume do exist – but at least they exist. New publishers don’t try to open in other genres nearly as often.
It’s for women, written by women, published by women, and acknowledges the sexuality of women, and therefore no one takes it seriously as art or commerce, despite racking up some of the most respectable and fastest growing sales numbers in the industry. And the people who write it do half the dismissing.
No. Today, I am Kathleen Freaking Dienne.
I was lurking in a discussion about what makes a reader throw a book at the wall. The conversation was specifically about what BDSM novels get wrong.
Before I continue, I want to say that I fell down the stairs a few days ago. More accurately, I fell on the stairs. It was warm enough that I’d kicked off my slippers, but cold enough that I still had my socks on. Unlike my toddler, I do not have nice little rubber bits on my socks to keep me from sliding on bare wood. I did that classic fall thing where your feet fly straight out and you land hard on your hind end. I was on the third step from the bottom at the time, so after the first impact I went bumpety bump down to the floor. It hurt so much that I went into Lamaze breathing, something I’d forgotten to do during actual childbirth. Unlike childbirth, I couldn’t scream because I didn’t want to alarm the kid to whom I gave birth, because these days he knows that screaming = something bad happening.
I am fine, except for a spectacular bruise on my left ass cheek. It is six inches long, and three inches high. It is currently purple and blue with a red and white welt in the center. I am a little sore, not from the fall but from leaning to starboard whenever I’m sitting down and typing.
It has occurred to me, more than once in the last few days, that the people who write spanking scenes involving a dominant person putting all his/her weight into dozens of blows from a cane or a wooden paddle have never once in their life been spanked with either. I might be wrong. But I don’t think so. Roald Dahl describe being caned at his boarding school in the late 20s/early 30s, and he was pretty clear that the number of strokes would be in the single digits and mess you up for days.
At any rate, I was uniquely qualified to nod in agreement with the readers protesting the sheer amount of violence and disregard for the subs in BDSM fiction. One of the other common themes running through the thread was how the female submissives invariably go on and on about how their desires were dirty, or that they longed to be normal, or whatever. The readers were saying that most actual subs, and in fact most of the people who enjoy BDSM, aren’t nearly so tortured over the whole thing.
One reader snapped out, as if she were speaking to one of the heroines, “Oh, FFS, get over yourself. It’s what you like. Own it.”
It was like a cold bucket of water to the face. I sent her a note to thank her.
It’s like this: I’m working on a story where I really need to speak to an expert in order to get some details that will make the story work, but I’ve been unusually embarrassed about writing erotic novellas this week. The hero is an enlisted man in the Army. One of my oldest friends has been in the Army for the last twelve years. Easy, no? But I’d been making it hard.
FFS, get over yourself. It’s what you write. Own it.
If you are someone who thinks visually, and you are in the middle of writing a story about distinctive people doing highly erotic and yet in-character things, do not go to YouPorn for any reason. Even if it’s the first time you’ve ever been to YouPorn. ESPECIALLY if it’s the first time you’ve ever been to YouPorn.
As a side note, somewhat related: Ye gods and little fishes, but mankind is astounding in its infinite variety. Should I ever come to feel that I’m writing the same tired sex scene over and over, I know exactly where to go to see things I’ve never even considered in several decades of a) a very active imagination and b) collecting erotic stories.
As another related side note: The next time I whine about being concerned that someone might find my real name and jeopardize my day job, I’m going to try to remember that grandmotherly lady with the glass dildo. She doesn’t just have her name out there. She’s posting her face, among other things. Parts. Whatever. She wasn’t associated with a porn production company either. She doesn’t even seem to have a website. She just made a video and posted it. Grandma Dildo is the one doing all the work to normalize sexual expression, not me. Good for you, lady.
Today’s entry in the neverending sweepstakes of shame: Even when I’m talking to other erotica authors, I find myself apologizing.
I’m serious. I need help. To acquaintances, I don’t talk about my writing at all. To friends, I minimize it as porn. To close friends, I both minimize it as porn AND downplay the erotic elements. And to potential colleagues, I apologize for it being too vanilla and not edgy enough.
I write what I myself would enjoy reading, for crying out loud. My entire life has been spent learning that I am not a special snowflake. For every thing I enjoy, there are thousands of other people with the same exact preferences. Millions, even.
I like reading M/F, M/F/F, and F/F. I like reading mild kink and threesomes. But I do not like double penetration, Sam I Am, I do not like it in the can. I do not like the whips and chains, and I do not like the golden rain.
For crying out loud, my entire goal is to write mainstream erotica. I should be thrilled that my preferences are so much in the middle of the stream that I can’t even see the shorelines. Today’s exercise is going to be working on telling other writers what I write, and doing it without caveats or apologies.