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.
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