Erotic writers are the literary equivalent of punk rockers. We’re not about respect. We’re considered the troubled deevs on the outside, more or less scorned by the industry. I mentioned to someone on another list I have been on for several years, that one of my stories had been chosen for the latest Mammoth anthology of erotica. This is a very stiff (so to speak) competition, not the least because it pays a pretty good check. Considering mine was one of 44 out of about 2000 entries, I was quite proud and when I announced it, this someone said “That’s great –now when are you going to write something serious?”
I bristle when our stuff gets brushed off as junk by people who pride themselves on not having read it. Having said this, I will confess that so far I haven’t gone out of my way to read gay or lesbian erotica though like anyone I have been exposed to it in the movies. I generally don’t do crits on it, because I’m not qualified to critique work I haven’t read on my own initiative or tried to write.
So what’s holding me back?
There is the obvious of course, I’m not gay. I’m an enthusiastic heterosexual. Searching my soul I don’t see anything like homophobia there, though you can never be sure, and as a good liberal I’m all for gay rights. The reason being I don’t see sexual orientation as a moral decision. An old friend of mine turned out later in life to be a transsexual. When Scott/Wendy told me his/her story, it was basically a journey of misery. This wasn’t something he had wanted for himself, more of a curse he was trying to make peace with. Why would anyone want to be gay or lesbian or even transsexual, considering the persecution they will go through, if they had a choice? I can’t remember any moment in my childhood where Dad sat me down and said “Son, we need to make a plan who you're going to fuck when you grow up – girls or boys? I think its better if you should choose girls so I can have grandkids.” I don’t recall having this conversation with myself either. I do very clearly recall when I was about seven years old, running into a gas station, squeezing my dick through my jeans because I had to pee so bad and running into the men’s toilet the mechanics used and seeing a huge color pinup on the wall over the toilet of a naked woman with big tits. I remember being so awed into stillness by the sight, by the alien fascination of a human body so different from mine, I forgot all about needing to pee.
Lisabet mentioned in her post the difficulties of getting a M/M or F/F story published, partly because of the strict conventions involved. Especially in that form of fiction, where the readers are very politically touchy about how they are depicted. One of the reasons the literary world makes a distinction between “literary” fiction and “popular” fiction, is because of the necessary conventions to each and every genre, and popular genre fiction is hog tied like a Japanese porn star with conventions. It doesn't always need to be good, but it always needs to get sold, and the genre fans know what they want, just like they know if they want pickles on their Whoppers.
In my case, as an apprentice writer, I have a great deal of freedom, which I cherish. Without any fans or even much of a track record, people don’t expect that much from me and I’m not in a hurry to be taken seriously yet. It’s better to be hungry and obscure while it lasts. I think when a writer starts to be successful, to that extent he has something to lose. People and editors expect a sequel to the last novel instead of the one you want to write. The fans begin to own you. They want the same characters back behaving the same way, and they abandon you if you get too far off the tracks. In the case of John Lennon, sometimes they come back looking for you with a gun. Some of us maybe aren’t meant to ever get on the tracks.
There are many contradictions between writers as individuals and the worlds we indulge in. One of the odd things I’ve noticed about erotica writers, including some who specialize in gay M/M stories, is that most of them are heterosexual women, in happy committed relationships with men. I find this unexpected. All I can figure is that men on men is a very erotic thing for women, and those are the women who should write it. So far I have never written a serious gay or lesbian story. I think if I wanted to I could fake it, but I would only be faking it, like Bruce Springsteen singing “The Dancing Queen” or something. People know when you’re faking it most of the time. I would write a M/M story only if there were a truth there for me to explore, because in my case, that is the purpose writing serves. Writing is where I go to converse with my personal demons, and the demons are my muse. I feel a little sorry for a writer who is not seriously screwed up inside to some extent, because it will always be hard for them to come up with interesting stuff.
On several occasions a good friend and I have been discussing BDSM stories and the internal issues of dominance and submission. I explained that after a life of passionate spiritual dedication and utter spiritual failure, I had felt betrayed by God, ultimately disappointed by God. She had remarked that I seemed like a submissive who had been victimized by a very bad dom. This is quite serious, and I agree with her. God is the meanest sonuvabitching dom of them all. How do you go on submitting to a dom who has lost your trust? Religion has everything to do with dominance and submission. As Lisbet described in last weeks post, the ecstatic experience for the submissive is the surrender to trust. People think it’s about pain, and there’s all these jokes about powerful men getting spanked by ladies in black leather for being “a bad boy”. But I think in the real world, it’s the way Lisabet describes it, it’s a spiritual act of surrender and breaking down internal barriers, with a dom as a guide and a means. And for the dom, I suppose it’s the experience of absolute power over an individual and how to wield that power in an unselfish and loving way that brings them deeper within. I know that for the religious ascetic that’s what’s going on. There are forms of Tibetan Buddhism that require guru worship as a necessary part of the path. “Putting your trust in Jesus.” Saying to God “Your will not mine be done.” Believing in God's love in the midst of crushing loss.
See, I can’t do that anymore. That’s the part that’s broken.
One of these days I’m going to write a BDSM story to explore that sore spot and see in what ways it hurts, because for me – that’s what I do.
Not all the time of course. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of fun writing and a lot of what I write isn’t meant to be serious at all. But when I’m in the groove it damn sure is. The Groove for me is that broken area of my life having to do with faith and spirituality and disappointment. That’s the dark place where my Nixie lives, along with some of the other stories I really pour my guts in. I’ve mentioned before, that a writer has to be their own number one fan. This is embarrassing to confess. It’s not a polite thing to discuss with other people. But the shameful secret is - I like my stuff. On a good day, I love it. I like going there with my characters, and there’s not a one of my characters I don’t love. I torture Nixie in my stories. I torment her, and pour my angst into her to the eyeballs because I love her the most of all. I treat her so bad, if I met her on a dark street I think she’d kill me slow and horrible and she’d have every reason to. But what Nixie knows, and you don’t, oh Friends of the Inner Sanctum, is that when I’m alone I read passages of her story and I weep. Physically. Literally. I weep for her story – because it’s my story.
I write because these are my demons, and I weep over my demons, and in return they weep for me. Who knows. Maybe it’s like that for God too when He thinks about us.
"So ist das lieben." Nixie says.
"Shigata ga nai." Lady Dainagon says.
That’s just how it goes.