I have always surrounded myself with artistic types – painters, actors, producers, poets and the like – but have never considered myself an artist until a friend of mine recently said something like “us artistic types” when referring to me. Me? An artist? Well, yes, I guess I am. Instead of creating with a paintbrush I create worlds with my words. Instead of acting scenes out, I write the scenes that others act out. I create whole worlds in my mind, populated with living and breathing characters. My job as an artist is to translate those worlds into the written word for everyone to enjoy.
I’ve always lived a little bit more in my head than others around me. I used to believe that there was something wrong with me until I realized that these were just stories that needed to be told. These worlds are real to me because they’re so detailed and so intricate. I can smell the scent of the garden blooming when I think about scenes from the parallel world novel I’m outlining. I can taste the special cakes a character in another world bakes for her family and friends. I can see the detail lovingly created by another character with her sewing.
All of these senses and scenes play out in my mind and I want to share them with everyone. They’re so vivid, so detailed that I have to remember that these worlds are not a realty. Yet.
I’ve been researching the business aspect of my writing career and have come to discover it really is a business. I know the reality of the industry is not even close to my little fantasy which goes something like this:
I write the best book ever and it sells for a lot of money. I quit my day job and spend my life writing full-time winning contracts and awards while large piles of praise and money stack up.
The reality is more akin to hard work for very little money and very little praise. I’m not sure my mother would even buy my book because it’s erotica (I sure hope she’d buy it just to be supportive and all). Here’s an example of things I’m going to have to spend money on for my career/business:
- Romance Writers of America Membership, including local membership and specialty memberships (all of which cost money)
- Post Office Box rental
- Website Hosting
- Domain name registration
- WordPress pro
Hey, the list could go on but these are just the basics I came up with. I’m not even listing the workshops I want to take and the supplies I’m using. So, before I even earn a single dime I’m having to output cash for this little business endeavor. In the end, when I see my words in print it’s going to be so worth it!
When I organize things I seem to create a HUGE mess during the whole process. Case in point, my office. I really needed a wall free for posting notes, installing my bulletin board and putting up a new white board. First, I had to take apart a bookshelf:
(My friend Angela will recognize her Bad Hair Day painting in this picture)
And, I had to build onto the other bookshelves:
As you can see in the above photo, I’ve already begun making a mess of things. But, it was all worth it in the end because this is what it looks like now:
I feel like I’ve accomplished a lot this evening while my husband is at work. Now I can relax and continue reading my current favorite author, Sophie Oak.
And, for Angela’s request, here is the desk area with Bad Hair Day in a “safer” position.
I belong to several groups both on Facebook and on Goodreads that are places where women (and some men) come to share their love of hot books, hot men, and every kinky bit in between. I find myself perusing the many pictures members post, most of which are rated XXX. And, because I’m a writer, I begin to write stories based on these pictures.
My husband comes in many nights while I’m “researching” to ask me why I’m looking at porn. When I tell him “honey, it’s not porn, it’s research,” I usually get some form of an incredulous look and a silly smile as he shakes his head and walks out. Really, it actually is research for an erotic romance writer to look at dirty pictures; at least for this writer. I also will research topics out of the mainstream if I have no personal experience with them. How else am I to convey to my readers the reality of a BDSM relationship for example? While I may have some personal experience with D/s relationships, I am by no means an expert and I don’t want to steer my readers into a dangerous direction with my writing. One of my more favorite BDSM authors, Cherise Sinclair, has a disclaimer at the beginning of all her novels stressing the importance of safe, sane and consensual. That, to me, is responsible writing.
So, I sign off this Friday evening and return to surfing porn..er, I mean, researching.
I find inspiration in so many places. One of the main places seems to be my very vivid dreams. People who know me know I have epic, technicolor blockbuster dreams with a huge cast of characters that span multiple nights. I’ve always dreamt this way. I’ve written many of them down and expand on them as my “head characters” act out for me each night. I think that artists are all a little bit insane. This is one of my proofs that I surely am.
Recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Country Music. I’m a bit obsessed. Something about the stories in these songs get my creative juices flowing. Seriously, I’ve written out like half a dozen story lines in the last 2 weeks because I’ve been so inspired by this music. I’ve never been much of a fan of Country Music so this is another proof of my artistic insanity. I’ve ended up crying several times while listening to the lines of these songs. What, you don’t have a job and you’re a Veteran and would pretty much push a broom to put food on your family’s table? Waaaaah *sniff* someone get me a Kleenex.
And then there’s my commute via BART. There is such a huge cross section of humanity on those trains on a daily basis that one would have to be blind to miss the stories just screaming to be told. I picture each of these individuals standing, sitting, moving about with little bubbles over their heads with a story line playing out. Take Thursday’s commute for instance. There was a man playing an according moving about the train while his wife (complete with baby strapped to her chest) busked for change. Oh the story these two told me as I watched them.
Trying to get into the habit of writing every day seems overwhelming some times, but then I remember that I’ve pretty much kept a journal since I was 11 years old. That’s over 30+ years of writing every single day. If that’s not a habit then I don’t know what is.
I have “officially” been reading Erotica for 4 years now. It all started with my friends Laurel and Kat (whom I will refer to as The Girls) and my 40th birthday. They bought me about 100 ebooks for my huge birthday that year and presented them to me on a thumb drive.
Now, I’ve been reading romance novels for years and years. The very first truly hard-core romance I remember reading was Kathleen E. Woodiwiss ‘The Wolf and The Dove.’ I found this little paperback novel on the shelf in my grandmother’s guest house one lazy summer afternoon. I was all of 12 years old and I remember how incredibly flustered I got when he chained her to the bed. Woohee, my little 12-year-old body almost exploded in orgasmic delight over that scene.
I can remember going to the library on Thursdays in the summer time. That was the day my mom cleaned Dr. Kaplan’s house and I could walk down to the library. The Brentwood library had a collection of paperback romance novels on a metal shelving unit near the back. I wanted to read nothing but historical romances because that’s where all the good sex was. I tore through Rosemary Rogers, Bertrice Small‘s ‘Skye O’Malley‘ series, and pretty much everything by my beloved Kathleen E. Woodiwiss. My mother in her sweet little heart bought me Judy Blume‘s ‘Forever‘ to show me what young love looked like. Little did she know that wouldn’t do it for my already sophisticated taste.
Fast forward years to my 40th birthday and that little thumb drive provided by The Girls. I had no idea what I was getting in to. I open that sucker up and the very first novel I came to was a little gem by Violet Summer’s called ‘Daniel’s Surrender.’ http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/3970111-daniel-s-surrender Holy hell, there was sex. A lot of sex. A lot of hot, steamy, kinky, multiple people sex. Where had this been all my life? Why had I not realized there were books out there like this? But, besides all the hot, kinky sex there was an amazing story. This book wasn’t a porn book. This was a well written, completely realized work of amazing reading. This was what I wanted to write. This was where my heart and mind had been leading me all along. The world of Erotica opened up before me and I had my life’s purpose. Now what?
Earlier this month I started this whole writing process out by deciding to come up with one new idea a day for 30 days. I got about a week in and fell flat. It’s not that the ideas aren’t there (believe me, they’re there) it’s that my “life” really gets in the way. How do other author’s hold down a full-time job, have a family and still write? One word comes to mind: DEDICATION. Between dedication and organization I think working authors are able to get their work finished and off for publication. As a new author I am lacking both. So, my grand scheme of 30 days of ideas gave me great ideas for half a dozen books as well as a list of others to write in several series’ and genres. And, nothing is stopping me from continuing with 30 days of ideas. No one said they had to be 30 continuous days.