Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Literary Inheritance

Though I'm far too young for a mid-life crisis, I do sometimes wonder about the literary inheritance I'll leave behind when my end of days comes. Like... will anyone care?

I'm not writing great literature; I don't have such delusions about myself and my writing. As we all know, good smut writing is hard to do, so I also know I'm not churning out crap.

But in a world where everyone is a writer and the process of publishing is so easy, will I stand out enough to be remembered? Does it even matter?

Why do I write? Maybe I should start there.

I write because I love to tell stories. I like to make a little money while doing it -- and let's be real, it's a little bit of money. As a few of us have said on this blog, we don't go into writing to be rich. (I'd be much more well off if I followed through with teaching, which I'm certified to do. But I wouldn't be as happy as I am now.)

I don't write for fame. I don't write for fortune. And I don't think I write to be remembered.

I love it when people tell me they enjoyed my books, but does it matter if they remember my books a year from now, five years, ten years, thirty years...?

Sometimes I wonder about those writers whose books have stood the test of time. Charles Dickens and Victor Hugo both come to mind. There's a post somewhere on Tumblr (so the veracity of this information is questionable) that said Dickens got paid per word, which is why his books are so wordy, and Hugo got paid per line, which is why there's lots of short dialogue that barely spans the page.

If it's true, it sounds like Dickens and Hugo were writing to market. They were in it for the money.

At some level, they were in it for the story, too. And I'm sure somewhere in the back of their minds they had dreams of being remembered decades or centuries later, as most writers do even if they won't admit it. But I bet they were ultimately in it for the money and the joy of writing.

Not only does that bring Dickens and Hugo down to our level -- because they did it for the same motivation -- it also makes them seem much more human. They aren't really these grand, untouchable literary figures. They're two guys who wrote books to pay the bills.

And, really, what's the point of being remembered decades or centuries later? After all, I won't be around to bask in the love of students who are forced against their will to read my books for English class. I won't even know if I was remembered a day past being put in the ground and, really, it wouldn't even matter.

So I write for me. I write stories that are stuck in my head and demanding to be let out on the page. Sometimes I write for the money. But I don't write for fame or immortality.

Besides, I'm not sure if I want to be remembered for all time for a line like:

"It’s like I’m metamorphosing from a horny slut caterpillar into a beautiful and majestic cock-hungry butterfly that has a boyfriend with a tasty dick." (Source)

Cameron D. James is a writer of gay smut. His most recent publication is the (surprisingly smut-free) gay YA romance, Gay Love And Other Fairy Tales, under his YA pen name, Dylan James.


  1. Cameron, you've brought up some excellent points, ones I've pondered myself. Around book number 4 (out of 20 to date) I began telling people "Nobody gets into writing to make money!" Convincing myself of that made lackluster sales easier to swallow. I'm blessed with a small but loyal fan base who purchase every new title, and I'm still having fun with it.

    I like your assessment about having stories in your head that cry out to be put on paper. That's really the reason I still do this, for that kind of satisfaction. If someone reads it and likes it, so much the better.

  2. That's some line!

    I sometimes think about what will happen to my poetry after I am gone. Most of it is unpublished, in notebooks scrawled by hand. Will anyone care enough to preserve it? To publish it? (Why should they, I guess, if I haven't done so.)

    I do have a clause in my will leaving the rights to my books to my brother. Even though he HATES the fact that I write erotica and once told me "I don't like to get turned on when I read..." !

    As for money... yeah, right. But a note from a reader saying they loved one of my stories is priceless.


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