I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time. I wrote a book in high school and sent the first few chapters to some publishers and of course heard nothing back. I moved on.
In university I dabbled a lot in poetry and my academic work. And loving life. Serious writing was put on hold.
After school, I eventually settled down and started a serious writing project. That’s when it hit me: whatever I wrote would be empty. Anyone can write flashy action and jokes and neat characters, and it will sell, but that doesn’t mean that the stories themselves have value. The vast majority of books, television and movies produced every day are just like that. Cool, funny, sexy, but they’re not filled with messages that teach us how to become better people and make the world a better place.
People don’t want to hear it. This is a harsh truth, and I’ve been as guilty as anyone in the past of not wanting to face truths, but that just means we really need to hear them. People want to be spoon fed their insecurities and assured that no matter how ignorant, selfish, mean, lazy or fat we are, we can still have hope that one day we’ll get the pretty girl or the billionaire guy, that we’ll land the perfect job, have the perfect family, or whatever.
Being faced with heroes and heroines who are perfect, who overcome their weaknesses, who strive for nobleness in life just makes the lot of us feel guilty. Because we know we’re not doing that. We’re going about life without a plan, without much thought, drifting from one moment to the next largely lost and blind. Seeing too many awesome people transcending that kind of life makes us feel bad about how we’re living our own, so out of defence, we reject them. We’ve turned our backs on Supermen types and fill most stories with ‘average Joe’ and the common man/woman. Because we relate to them. Because we Want to relate to them. Because seeing Superman makes us too aware of how much we’re not like him and we want to run away from that reality.
Instead, we latch onto stories with weaker characters that legitimize our own lives. “If that character is a loser yet he gets the girl and he is happy and he beats the bully, I’m ok too.”, “If she was able to lie and cheat and in the end she got away with it, I can too. Even though she did all that, she’s not a bad person, really, so that means I’m not too, even if I lie and cheat to get what I want too.”
Even if people somehow wanted to write deeper stories that positively affected consumers, most of us simply don’t know what to write. We haven’t lived and learned to a point where we really understand the great values of life and have then implemented them into our own. If we don’t understand how to make the best of our choices and decisions, how can we possibly instruct others?
How I Challenged This
Understanding my own ignorance of people and life, I set about trying to correct that. And, writing got put on hold. I invested in myself and in my career and in my relationships. I accomplished great things, made and learned from mistakes, pushed my boundaries, and studied the right books. (Various philosophy, Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie)
I finally reached the point where I became confident, really confident, in my values and wisdom. I felt like I had something to offer. I could write and put something worthwhile into it.
The bad news? I now sucked as a writer. Ouch! After so many years out of practice, I have no craft skill. My vocabulary seems to have vanished in the night and I can only use the same five damn adjectives over and over again. It’s like writing erotica for dummies. I read stuff I wrote as a kid and wonder if someone slipped their own work into my files because how on Earth was I so much better back then?
I sat down and wrote my first story six months ago and thought: I hate my work!
There’s a soul-shaking experience. I was banging my head on the wall, having bad dreams, down on myself because I felt suddenly retarded.
But I couldn’t let this stop me. I recognized once that I lacked something in order to produce what I wanted. Now, I recognized the same thing happening again. I lacked crafting skill. So, I had to find a way to get it. I pulled out a ton of old books, all my favourite authors and started reading everything. (Piers Anthony, Wilbur Smith, lots of fantasy novels, Anne Rice, and more). I also started just throwing words on paper (er, computer) and trying to get some practice. It’s like learning anything else, when you start out, you simply have to put in the effort and hours of basic training.
I’ve found great wisdom on the craft of writing from Morgan Hawke and her amazing blog. I’ve also drawn inspiration from Selena Kitt’s writing. She’s so good at writing emotion; I really want to become more like her in that respect. Robert McKee’s Story is a brilliant, brilliant book.
The volume of work I’ve produced in the past few months isn’t as much as I would have liked. So, I know that I have to work on improving my self discipline and being more dedicated to the process. Success doesn’t just happen to most of us. Forget the lucky people whose work goes viral. It’s a fluke. Most people in life, in any industry, need to grind out the effort in order to achieve the results. You don’t become Stephen King without writing a hundred drafts of early novels and aborting a thousand bad ideas. You don’t become a major league baseball player without going through a hundred thousand at-bats and years in the gym. You don’t level up your video game character overnight, you have to put in the hours, do the quests and kill the monsters until you become badass. While the ‘Ten Thousand Hours Until Expert” isn’t a given rule, I think it’s a fair indicator of the workload behind what we do to become successful.
I still hate my work. But I have hope and I’m not giving up any time soon.
I recently wrote Bible Black: Sex and Magic. It’s my first full-length novel. The day I published it, I went to bed and had the worst nightmare. I dreamed about a woman in incredible pain who had a daughter she loved so very much, and hugged her and was proud of her, and at the end of the dream, the mother was completely insane from grief and the daughter was actually a stillborn baby. It had never lived at all. A dream within a dream.
It didn’t take much as I lay there in bed the next morning, very disturbed, to realize that the baby was my book. I worried the project would similarly be stillborn. No-one would buy it because new writers can’t reach anyone, and because I had little confidence in my ability thus far.
It hasn’t been long, but Bible Black: Sex and Magic has already become my biggest seller. Not because of my own fan club, or because it’s shared and reviewed, but because apparently I tapped into an existing fan base eager for more story set in this universe. Lucky! I can only hope that the wonderful readers who have purchased the novel are happy with it, and do write favourable feedback or reviews online. It’s the only way an author can reach new people and build a fan base. It’s also the only way I can understand how people feel about my writing.
I understand almost everyone is shy about writing a public review about erotica. I get it, sex is taboo. People will know you’ve read a naughty book and that you liked it. You’re worried about how they’ll treat you afterwards. Even though we both know that other person is probably full of shit and loves sex and maybe even erotica as much as you and I do. Of course they like it! Everyone loves sex. Name anyone who doesn’t feel good when they rub their genitals up against those of another. It’s the way we’re all designed. This shyness and guilt over sex is entirely a learned cultural characteristic. Unfortunately, it’s standing in the way of those of us trying to write about it.
It’s also standing in the way of readers getting the work they want. There are some seriously taboo topics out there, like dinosaur and mind control erotica, even addressing something as fundamental as anal sex. Authors are out there trying to fight the good fight on your behalf, writing what you want, what turns you on, despite the fear of being labeled far worse for writing it than anyone ever will be for reading it. Why are we doing this? To make you happy. When I wrote the Saurian Complex saga, Dinosaurs and Halloween, the Jessica stories, Selena and Kit: Forbidden Door, it’s because I know that’s what some people want, and I want them to have stuff they enjoy. The same way I hope writers are out there making books I want to read.
The authors are brave enough to write the stories, please know that you readers can choose to be brave enough to at least rate the stories in return, if not write a review. And the more people who do this, the less erotica is taboo and less people will judge us for what we love.
Criticizing My Own Work
Are my stories – so far – works of breath-taking literary genius? No. Are they as full of the messages I want to write about in order to help people grow? Not yet. Will they make you hot when you read them? Yes. My best friend reads my stories and gets all hot and bothered by them. She even touches herself afterwards.
When I look at other writers, I naturally compare myself to what they can do. At first, this was fucking discouraging. I lost hope in myself because I saw what others were doing and realized that my level was so inferior I couldn’t become successful. Then I stopped. Thinking this way is wrong. It’s the same way people reject Superman. I refused to do that. If I wanted to become the best, I had to believe that it was possible in myself. And I do.
Now, I compare myself to my potential. There’s no sense comparing yourself as a rookie to someone who is a pro. That’s useless. Instead, see the pro as the potential of what is possible, and know that with the same effort invested, we too can reach that level. I need to keep writing, keep studying, keep practicing, until my actual level grows closer to my potential level. Then I can write awesome stories.
The Value Of Readers
My growth as an author is going to be really difficult if I have to do it entirely alone. But with the help of readers, authors can get useful feedback on what works and what doesn’t in order for their writing to improve.
When readers share positive reviews and talk to others about what they’ve read, it helps other readers to find an author’s work. The more people who read, and hopefully buy, my work, the fewer hours I need to spend at another job for food and rent money, and the more I can dedicate to writing. That means improving my craft faster, and producing more and better stories for readers.
As creator and consumer, the more we invest in each other, the better the results for both of us. And, honestly, I’m in this as much for your benefit as mine. I want writing to become my profession and to sell enough books to live from, but I’m not trying to become the next JK Rowling and make billions. It’s more important to me that readers enjoy and eventually learn from my work.
Deep down, I love humanity, I believe in everyone, and I want the best for all my readers. Right now that starts with a little sexy excitement and some fun little stories. I hope, with your support, this grows into something more. When you’re not busy with the greats out there, I hope you’ll give my work a chance and stick around for what comes next. And tell a friend.
I appreciate you, I really do.