Writing Your Passions

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Or — Writing What You Know
(Or why I can’t write erotica.)

 My last post contained a comment that set off a heated discussion back channel. Apparently, following word count guidelines is blasphemous. You don’t write for the market, you write for yourself.

 I tend to agree that it’s hard to write for the market. Mainly because it’s really hard to forecast what the market will be. But as far as following guidelines? It seems to me that it’s in your best interest to do as much as you can to help your story get sold. There are certainly exceptions that prove the rule, still, why do something that may get you tossed off the pile just because there were too many words.

 The erotica market is hot right now. I have several friends that have done exceedingly well as indies and I’m proud they’ve been able to do it. The work is astounding, and that’s not even the writing. A couple of years ago, someone I know took a bunch of erotica writers and betas to a BDSM club. In a Hummer limo. I beta. I usually skip parts that squick me out, and for some reason, they still want me to read. I didn’t understand some of the names for things, so there I was, in a Hummer limo, with a bunch of well-known erotica authors, discussing the market and public relations.

 Not very erotic, but very entertaining. Add to the fact that my father was a self-admitted porno pusher in the seventies, (yep, guess who hired his daughter’s debate team to stick UPC codes on Penthouse magazines because they were wrong and the allotment needed to go out immediately?) I should know something about erotica.

 Nope. Nothing I can write. I’ve tried. I’ve been given prompts. I’ve written short stories. Every single one of them ended on a humorous note and not a single character got any. My buds decided I needed to gather my shorts into a collection and call it ‘Coitus Don’tinterruptus’.  I think the one where the characters’ bathtub falls through the floor might be my favorite.

 You can know something, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you can or want to write it. If you can, and it’s what the market wants, then it’s a happy coincidence of timing. Or at least, that’s how I see it through the looking glass, on the wrong side of any market.

Bio:

I’ve worked in a hazardous waste lab, where under the sign for the Right To Know Act, was added: ‘If you can figure it out’. I’ve been a metals tech, a bakery clerk, a professional gardener, taught human anatomy and ran two university greenhouses. Along the way I picked up my Master’s Degree in Biology, specializing in the population genetics of an endangered plant. I am also a top breeder, handler, and trainer of English springer spaniels under the prefix Muddy Paws. Every time I think I understand dogs, another one comes along and proves all my beliefs are totally wrong. Then I was gypped and ended up with a tubby, egotistical, magical basset as a muse. It’s a good thing my husband, the Tall Dude, has a real job, and makes great unpaid kennel help. I’m also a member of the SCBWI, since they seem happy to take my money. http://www.scbwi.org/members-public/mindy-mymudes

 Find me on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mindy-…) and George at Basset Bones. (http://bassetbones.wordpress.com)

 

Mindy Picgeorgeknows333x500-1

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12 comments to Writing Your Passions

  • Hepseba ALHH

    Thank you for bringing up some interesting (as well as some silly) points! For me it’s a matter of “pick-your-battles.” I’m really not ready to battle to get published, so I’m not going to yell at myself because I write too long. *However*, I what I do want to make sure of right now is that, as it *is* going to be too long, I had better make sure that all those words are actually serving the story. Long story is one thing. Long writing just to have words is completely something else. However, if I were going to battle to get myself published, I would definitely be taking a hard look at anything obvious that could get in the way of that goal. Maybe I wouldn’t be able to make myself cut things down as far as I should, but I’d certainly then try to make sure I had some give elsewhere to try to compensate. But, yeah, right now it’s not my battle.
    Happy falling bathtubs! – Hepseba

  • I absolutely think that people should write what they want and not write to the markets. BUT, once the book is written, if they want to sell said book, they should consider editing down to work count ranges. Why? Because writing what you love is great. But if you want to see that beloved book published by a traditional press, you’ll need to think about what sells and what doesn’t. Passion is great. I have based my entire career on the premise that I would rather love what I do than be rich. But I have also been smart about marketing myself and my books. You can’t eat passion (well, you can, but now we’re talking erotica again . . .), you can’t give passion to your bank to cover your mortgage, and you can’t pay college tuition with passion. Just sayin’.

  • mudepoz

    Re: word count. With my scan of the Internet, that’s exactly what’s written on nearly every blog. Make sure every word counts.
    Re: marketing, that’s a whole ‘nother (I am fighting AC, it insists on mother), story. Faith rewrote the title, passion as in erotica. Erotica is just something I can’t do. If I wanted to make scads of money though, that’s the area I’d try to write in.

    Not going to happen. It isn’t in me. I can joke with the best of them, but if you’re cruddy at writing it, you’ll be caught out by someone. There’s a lot of really bad stuff out there. People might go for the freebie, but they aren’t going to return and pay for the rest of the series. If you have something really unique (like a plot), those books do amazingly well.

    I’ll beta. And write about an egotistical dog for kids.

  • I can write erotica, but it’s not necessarily my thing. Steamy romance is as far as I get (and I hear there’s a big desire for sci-fi romance nowadays, which I can do). I actually have some erotica sex scenes that I wrote from my works that will never see the light of day. They were just to get them out of my head so I could get back to work.

    I don’t really write to word count. I know I talk about my 2k/10k/100k strategy (which I haven’t been able to do of late…weeble-weeble! :( ), but I just write until the work is done. If it ends up at 90k that’s fine. Although, there are times when I go back in and see things I forgot to add and it raises it a bit. Or I’ll find things that are extraneous and get rid of them (excision for concision and all that).

  • Thank you for putting this into words. I would love to write erotica or romance right now because it seems to be a hot market. I’ve even had people ask me to write romance but I just cant do it. My stories tend to have some romance in them, just nothing that would sustain a whole book. I’ve come to realize my passion is in the mysteries, action and fantastical elements so writing erotica or even just a pure romance will probably never happen.

  • This rang a bell with me. In one of my stories I have two bedroom scenes: one is a row and the other is a pillow fight! Some of us just aren’t cut out to write erotica.

  • mudepoz

    *Snicker* Answering this via smartphone isn’t easy.
    David, I agree, that there is a time to write for the market. Word count seems to be the one that causes the most hue and cry. At least it tripped a switch for someone last week. I’ve only had the joy of working in a very a specific area, writing articles of magazines. Those articles are written to be cut. My Tween just happened to fall into what’s considered normal. The publisher charges based on length of book, which is interesting.

    As to writing what you know? Fantasy is hard to know, per se. But fantasy with an understanding of the underlying world is awesome. Your books are a good example. Deb Harkness’ books are a wonderful example (no, I’m not sucking up to historians today, I’m finishing researching the 1917 flu epidemic). Faith’s world is filled with the tastes and smells of the south. Which is why I’m going to haunt her in New Orleans.

    I can technically write erotica. I suppose people would read it, but it would lack in passion. My passion is humor, and no matter what I write, it’s there. In fact, my advisor made me remove the stuff I discovered about my endangered species. One thing was that it was distributed by aliens. Is it my fault every site it was found on was located near some amazing American Indian burial mounds, like the snake mound in Peebles, Ohio?

    Then again, maybe my humor has to grow on you, like mold.
    Daniel, I envy your ability to write adult scenes. I would love to write adult books someday. I just haven’t figured out how yet. Besides, I always said I was actually an 11 year old boy.

  • mudepoz

    Kevin and fairyhedgehog. I was told that writing for the market was blasphemy because of my word count comment. I don’t think it’s blasphemy to write for the market, while still holding onto what you love. I guess it’s a compromise. The market just seems so complex. Lately I’m hearing paranormal is a hard sell. First it was too many vamps, then too many weres, now it’s the whole genre. Westerns like the Zane Gray stories don’t seem to be out there like they were. Put a cowboy in the saddle without a shirt, though, and you can sell it.

    My own writing is really limited, it’s mainly the research for the PR aspect that has wigged me out.

  • ” . . . so there I was, in a Hummer limo, with a bunch of well-known erotica authors, discussing the market and public relations.”

    Okay, I know you focused on other stuff, but this is what I took away from your post! This, and the overwhelming desire to read an erotica story where the bathtub fell through the floor.

  • mudepoz

    I have pictures :)

  • Mud, I totally agree with writing to your passion, and to heck with the market. But what David said is right. After the passion has cooled, cut that bad boy into shape and sell him!

  • mudepoz

    I thought we weren’t going to talk about that sort of thing :) ( I also disagreed, back channel, that you should write within the the word count generally)