Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Reading and Writing and All That Stuff

I haven’t started a new book in a good long while. I’m still reading my old standby — the latest Star Trek book. This one is a Deep Space Nine novel titled The Long Mirage by David R George III. I’ve said it before and I”ll say it again — George is one of the few authors who truly gets Deep Space Nine and his writing is a pleasure to read.

However, this is an erotica authors blog, not a Star Trek fan blog, so I won’t go further into detail about the joy of this book and this author’s skill.

I’ve been in heavy editing mode with my publisher and thus haven’t had much time to read books outside of those I’m working on. (Reading aside — I haven’t even had time to sit down to type a smutty story in far too long.)

Even when editing is at its thickest, I do strive to manage to read a chapter or two of a book — any book — before bed. So, I’ve been slowly making my way through that Star Trek novel.

It’s commonly advised that authors should make time to read. I agree with that whole-heartedly. An author needn’t always read the genre they’re writing in — though it is advisable to do it now and then to keep on top of the genre — as long as they’re reading something.

A writer who doesn’t read (and believe me, I know some) is a writer who isn’t exposed to the skills and strengths (and weaknesses) of others. Seeing the strength of another writer, seeing how they unfold their plots and develop their characters and explore their worlds, pushes an author to strive to do better. That “do better” might be intending to write as well as the book in their hands or it might mean outshining the dreck contained in the pages of that purchased book. Either way, it’s a beneficial experience.

An author who reads only their own writing and doesn’t explore outside that box is thus stuck inside that box. Yes, that author might make slow and steady gains, but they might be in the wrong direction or they might be far slower than those gains should happen.

In my free time (excuse me while I laugh), I try to teach myself the violin. I could’ve bought a self-teaching book (in fact, I did) and struggle through the lessons on my own. However, I’d go much slower than someone who even minimally invests in professional lessons. If I did it entirely by self-learning, I would still be holding the bow wrong, which leads to hand cramps and an inability to play properly (because I can’t maneuver the bow like someone who holds it properly).

On the other hand, though, to learn violin, I don’t need to exclusively take lessons. In fact, I took lessons for about a year to help get a fairly-decent grasp on the basics. From there, I proceeded with self-directed learning (with long stretches of doing nothing, if I’m going to be completely honest here). I’d print off some music or flip through my student book and I’d struggle with something.

But, just like an author that needs to read books to stay engaged with how others do it, I occasionally take violin webinars or look up lessons on YouTube. Looking to the professionals now and then allows me to learn techniques to shake off bad habits and strengthen my basic skills. I’m still moving slow and it’ll take many years before I can perform in the local open mic night, but it’s because of those brief and semi-regular exposures to professional lessons that I am able to improve as an amateur violinist.

Being an author doesn’t necessarily mean reading for two hours every day — rather, it means intentionally keeping up with some sort of a reading schedule, regularly exposing oneself to writing other than their own, recharging their creative batteries, and then sitting down at the computer to reach for new heights.

Read what you want, no matter what you write. I read a lot of Star Trek, but I don’t write science fiction.

(I’ll try to read a sexier book next time this topic comes up.)

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay erotica and M/M erotic romance; his latest release is The President And The Rentboy. He is publisher at and co-founder of Deep Desires Press and a member of the Indie Erotica Collective. 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.


  1. No need to apologize about your Star Trek fetish! We all read what we like.

    I can't imagine NOT reading. How could an author do that?

    And you're not much of an overachiever, are you??? Violin???!!!

    Love it!

    1. It's veeeerrrrrry squeaky. The cats don't like it. :)

  2. Yah! Kisses from a fellow DS9 geek. :)

    I don't see how you can write without reading. Aside from keeping up with what's current, you need to recharge your batteries and make sure you level lose your love of books . . . or readers will notice it.

  3. In general, we learn by watching. The author's equivalent to learning by watching is reading all kinds of stuff. Otherwise we don't have sense of what's good and what's not so good. By reading the best writers, we become familiar with what the good stuff looks like.

    1. Yes! At the same time, we have to realize that just because we can't achieve the same level of writing as some of the greats doesn't mean that we aren't good writers ourselves! The greats worked hard to get to their greatness -- and we've got to work just as hard (and use their books as inspiration)!

  4. I've been reading the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, after many, many recommendations from the kiddies I tutor. Since they're written for kids, I blew through the 1st 5 quickly. Then I read the second 5 books almost as quickly. Now I'm all caught up, and busy with the 2nd in his 3rd series, and will have to wait for him to write the next one. This one is young adult, because he's assuming his readers have aged, so it includes bisexuality, homosexuality, and other such adult issues, There isn't any sex at all, just the mention of what the very randy Apollo used to be like when he was a god for centuries, before Zeus got pissed at him and threw him down to earth as a pimply teenager. And there are characters who have relationships, some hetero, some homosexual.

    I have always loved Greek mythology, so I'm a fool for books like these.

    Oh, and I'll try to post more regularly now that it's summer and I'm only working 1 job. Been catching up with doctor apts and things that I don't have time for during the school year. Plus our second son's wife is pregnant with my first grandbaby, due the end of the month. So we're super excited about that. Planning our 33rd anniversary celebration also. Not sure if we'll go camping for a weekend, just the 2 of us, or back to the Sybarris (the "love hotel chain with indoor pools and Jacuzzis...used to have waterbeds back in the day, as well as hanging basket swings attached to a hook over the bed. But no more.) We've been going there for so many years that I have a lifetime membership (it's called a "club" and you have to pay for a yearly membership the first time you go each year.) Our kids used to laugh when the babysitters or their friends were freaked out that their parents were going to a fancy place to have sex, especially when we'd do the 4-hour afternoon visit. My youngsters would look down their noses at them and ask, "How do you think we all got here?" And, "Better they scream and yell there, where we don't have to hear them!" ;-D

    1. Hi, Fiona!

      Great to have you back. Congratulations on the grandchild and the anniversary.

      We used to have a motel like that in our neck of the woods. It was called "The Creative Pines Motel". Had all sorts of theme rooms. Sounds a bit more low end than yours, though. Certainly there wasn't any membership fee!

    2. Was that when you lived in my neck of the woods, Lisabet? If so, somehow that place escaped my notice. I do know of an "adventure suites" place that used to be in North Conway, NH, but that appears to have subsided into a "family friendly" place quite a while ago.

    3. Yup. It was in Chicopee... (Not exactly our neck of the woods. In fact, socially it's a different planet from the Pioneer Valley!)

    4. Some young adult books are effing awesome. I read through the Gone series and I was completely blown away with every book. It, too, touched on issues of sexuality and included a couple LGBT relationships.

      I think some people look down on YA as being for kids, as if that somehow makes it less worthy of a genre. YA, like romance and erotica, is highly specialized and takes a very high skill level to write.

      And I keep hearing about Rick Riordan's books -- I might have to pick them up soon!

  5. Through the years we have tried other places, but we always go back to the Sybarris because the facility is so scrupulously clean everywhere. We have a Jacuzzi at home, so we usually splurge and get the pool suite, with an indoor pool, a Jacuzzi on the side, and a steam room where my husband can sit and enjoy himself, sweating (they give me a headache) while I enjoy myself with the jets on either the pool or the Jazuzzi. I used to spend some time in the bathroom when they had a bidet (LOVE those jets!) but the last time we were there, the room had been remodeled and the bidet was gone. Sigh.

    We once went to a place in Wisconsin called the Don Q Inn, which obviously used to be really someplace back in the day. It has theme rooms, like the astronaut one, where it's painted like you're in outer space, and the bed is up on stilts, so you're closer to the sky, or the Arabian Nights room. I don't remember which one we had, but the place is kind of shabby now, and the hot water didn't work on the shower. Luckily it did on the Jacuzzi.

    I like those kinds of places. There's something inherently wicked and inspirational about going to a place specifically designed to enhance your fucking fun. Even after all of these years of great sex.