I’m sure most writers have stories of having to overcome detractors, of having to hold true to their belief in themselves and their craft, despite what others have to say about the matter. I’m not one of them. I’ve always had the support of those closest to me, including when I decided to venture into the world of erotic fiction.
My biggest detractor was myself. This isn’t that unusual for writers — there are many who will feel that they’re never quite good enough.
I spent most of my high school years writing sci-fi in my spare time, only to print out the stories and put them on a shelf, not having shown them to anyone. It was something I enjoyed doing, even if I was the only one that knew the stories. I had told my English teacher every year that I wrote sci-fi as a hobby and I got lots of enthusiastic responses... until they found out that I’m a fan of Star Trek and my short stories were similar to the show. (One teacher looked down his nose and said, “Oh, you’re one of those people.” Another teacher made a disgusted look, scoffed, and said, “How can you like that stuff?”) They weren’t all bad teachers, though. I had one teacher who wholeheartedly supported my love of writing sci-fi and my love of Star Trek. (I later found out that this teacher’s son was a sci-fi novelist and his wife was an internationally bestselling romance novelist. So that would be why he supported my interest in genre fiction and Star Trek.)
After high school, I toiled away at writing more sci-fi. However, I had no plans to make it a career. I tried submitting a few stories and novels here and there, but never put any real energy into it. In my mind, not only was I not good enough to be a career writer, I felt that even if I were to have a career as a writer, the career itself would not be well-paying enough to live off of. So I relegated writing to a hobby.
I tried to put my life in a different direction — I went to university and got a couple degrees, one of which was my Bachelor of Education. My “back up plan” if I couldn’t write was to be a math teacher. (But in my mind, it was “the plan” not “the back up plan” since writing was never seriously a plan.) I never took a job as a teacher, for various reasons, and did a number of different jobs. I went back to university again to get a masters (because I wanted to work in the non-profit field and for a lot of higher-up jobs, you need a masters) and ended up putting my sci-fi writing on indefinite hold. I had no more time for it and it was really nothing more than a passing hobby.
Then enter the man who would change my life forever, the man who would become my husband.
Not only did he support my writing — after all, he is a writer, too — but he was driven to have us both have careers as writers. He pushed me to better my writing, pushed me to submit to agents and editors, and pushed me to be more passionate about it.
However, by that time, I had more or less burned out on writing sci-fi and taking masters courses at the same time. For a refreshing break, I tried erotic writing. Since then, I’ve never looked back.
My first novel got snapped up by a small publisher, as well as my second. From there, I discovered the self-publishing path and have charted my own journey through the publishing landscape. While I’m not super successful, as I still have a day job, I can at least now see that being a writer can be an actual profession. I now have three pen names and approximately fifty erotic titles currently released.
I do plan to return to sci-fi at some point in the future. For now, though, I need to see where this erotic writing path will lead.
And it’s led to some interesting places.
Over the past few months, I’ve mentioned how I’m in the process of helping set up an erotica and erotic romance publishing company. Well, it launched a week ago and is open to submissions. Many people have asked why I bothered starting up a publishing company when erotica and erotic romance thrive on self-publishing — these are my new detractors — and my answer has always been that self-publishing is not everyone’s ideal. Some authors want a publisher — the detractors may not understand that, but many others do. I love the process of publishing as much as I love the process of writing, so if I can help an author get their book on Amazon and Kobo and all the other places, then I would love to do so.
In the past five years, I’ve gone from giving up on sci-fi, and thus giving up on writing completely, to becoming a multiple bestselling author and soon-to-be publisher. To do that, I had to overcome my biggest detractor — myself.
Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is Seduced by My Best Friend’s Dad (co-written with Sandra Claire). He is also the publisher and co-founder of Deep Desires Press, a publisher of erotica and high-heat-level erotic romance. He lives in Canada, is always crushing on Starbucks baristas, and has two rescue cats. To learn more about Cameron, visit http://www.camerondjames.com.